The Papaya (Carica papaya) is an edible fruit of the citrus family, originally discovered in to southern Mexico and Central America and spread to the rest of world by the Spanish Conquistadors. It can now be found growing in every tropical and subtropical country.
There are two varieties of papayas, the Hawaiian and Mexican. The Hawaiian varieties are those most commonly found in supermarkets. The pear-shaped fruit weigh approximately 0.5kg, with a yellow skin when ripe. Depending on the variety, the flesh is either bright orange or pinkish, with a cluster of small black seeds in the center.
A fully ripe papaya is juicy, with a sweetish and somewhat musky taste, comparable to that of a musk melon. Both the fruit and leaves contains papain, which assists digestion and is often used to tenderize meat. The edible seeds have a spicy flavor somewhat reminiscent of black pepper, and these seeds are often used, especially in India, as an adulterant for whole black pepper.
It is also commonly referred to as a Paw Paw (or pawpaw), or Tree Melon.
- Samson, J. A. Tropical Fruits. 2nd ed., Longman Scientific and Technical. (1986)