If you’ve ever purchased a green papaya, you know how frustrating it can be to wait for the big fruit to ripen. If you’re not patient enough, you might slice the green papaya open to find the fruit overly firm with a bitter bite. But there are some tricks for how to ripen papaya quickly, and I’m going to share them with you.
Follow the steps below and you’ll find that ripening a papaya at home is actually an easy process that only takes a couple of days. As you’ll see, there are a few different methods to choose from.
Papaya changes colors as it ripens, slowly turning from green to yellow. When then first swathes of yellow appear on the fruit, it has started to ripen.
Over time (sometimes weeks) the papaya continues to change colors. The flesh of the fruit softens and sweetens, and with practice you can feel when the fruit has become soft enough to eat.
When the fruit is mostly or completely yellow and the flesh is soft to the touch, the papaya is perfectly ripe and ready to eat. Slice it open now and you’ll be rewarded with the sweet and succulent fruit that you are hoping for.
Don’t wait too long! If you allow a papaya to become too ripe, the fruit will begin to spoil and patches of mold will appear on its skin. When you slice it open, you will find that the fruit has become mushy and bland.
If your fruit is ripe but you’re not ready to eat it yet – place it in the refrigerator. Refrigeration can slow the ripening process and buy you some extra time. Fully ripe papaya flesh can be preserved for several days in the refrigerator. And it can be stored indefinitely in a freezer at 0F.
Ripening a papaya at home is simple and straightforward. There are only a few items you will need, and there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll find everything you need in your kitchen or pantry.
As mentioned above, an unripe papaya will be completely green, with little or no yellow visible on its skin. When you lightly squeeze the papaya with your fingers, you will find that the flesh below is firm and does not give when you apply pressure with your fingers. This is the perfect fruit to start with.
There are two effective methods to ripen a papaya quickly. Both of these methods will result in a fully ripe papaya in about 2 days. If you have a green papaya that you absolutely need to serve tomorrow, use both methods together for the fastest results.
That’s right! It’s just that simple. Much like the method you would use to ripen and avocado, you simply place the unripe papaya inside a paper bag. Place the bag on your counter or inside your pantry and wait. Within 2 or 3 days your papaya will soften, turn yellow, and take on the sweet succulent flavor you’re craving.
The reason why this works is that moisture ripens the fruit. And papayas actually release moisture during the ripening process. In normal conditions, the papaya remains relatively dry because the moisture that is released by the ripening fruit evaporates into the surrounding air.
When you place the papaya inside a paper bag, the bag acts as an insulator and helps to retain much of the moisture that is released by the fruit. By capturing the fruit’s own moisture, you can quickly speed up the ripening process. Keep the bag out of direct sunlight to retain as much moisture as possible.
To add even more moisture inside the bag, you can include another piece of fresh fruit like an apple or a banana. Here is a short video from Kin’s Farm Market to show you how it’s done:
The papaya’s skin protects the fruit from moisture and greatly slows down the ripening process. This is a natural adaptation to ensure that the seed inside the fruit has time to mature. But you can “hack” this natural phenomenon by scoring the skin of the papaya with a sharp knife blade.
When you do this, try not to penetrate the actual flesh of the papaya. You’re only trying to score the skin of the fruit, and your cuts should be no more than about 1/16 of an inch deep – very shallow. Run the blade lengthwise across the fruit, making incisions that are about an inch apart.
Leave the flattest half or quarter of the fruit uncut and face the uncut section downwards when you put the papaya on the counter to ripen. After being scored in this way, your green papaya should be ripe and ready to eat within 2 or 3 days.
You can see the technique in this short video:
A light-colored sticky “sap” will ooze from each incision in the papaya’s skin. This liquid substance is called papain*. Dried papain is used as a medicine in many traditional cultures, and has also been studied by biological chemists for its potential to control tumors.
Although it is used as a medicine, papain does contain toxic latex compounds which can cause reactions in people whose skin is sensitive to latex. Symptoms include skin irritation and blisters.
Handle this substance with care and protection, and wash your hands and tools immediately after coming into contact with papain. Avoid papain altogether if you have any of the following conditions:
If you have a green papaya that you absolutely need to serve tomorrow, you can combine options 1 & 2 above to ripen your papaya as quickly as possible.
Score the papaya’s skin as detailed in option #2, then place it inside a paper bag as detailed in option #1. Place the bag on a flat surface out of direct sunlight, and your papaya should be ripe enough to eat within a day.
Because the ripening process is unpredictable and varies across individual fruits, it is always best to allow 2 or 3 days for ripening, if possible.
So you see, you only need a few simple tools to enjoy that perfect sweet papaya flavor as quickly as possible. I hope that you find this information to be useful, and I hope that your green papaya will be ripe and soft when you cut it open to enjoy the sweet flavor.
Waiting for these tropical treats can be a little frustrating, but you can speed that process up from 2 weeks to only 2 days by using the simple techniques above.
When you’re purchasing papaya – try to select a fruit that has already started to ripen. You’ll have better success with these methods if the fruit is already showing large swathes of yellow color on its skin. Choose wisely and follow the instructions above, and you can enjoy a perfectly ripe papaya in only 2 short days.
Use the comments section below to let me know if these tricks worked for you. And if you know another trick to ripen a papaya, please leave a comment below to share it with the rest of us!
Hello, I’m Laura Bennett. I love nature especially when it comes to flowers and different kinds of plants. I started a very small garden behind my house and I named it Humid Garden. So, I created this blog to provide aspiring and inspiring thoughts about gardening for gardeners and anyone who has the intention of keeping a garden.
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