Learning how to cut a papaya is easy with this step-by-step photographic guide. You should never be too intimidated to cut into a fruit you love, or have never tried. Papayas are beautiful, delicious, and packed with nutrients.
Below is a guide of how to cut a papaya, and we’ll learn all about this beautiful, delicious, good-for-you, tropical fruit, while we’re at it.
A Few General Papaya Facts
- Botanically a berry, Papayas are sometimes called papaw or pawpaw.
- It’s believed the Papaya originated in southern Mexico and eastern Central America. The Spanish were the first to introduce it to Asia in 16th century, then they spread to India and eventually to Europe. And by the 19th century, it was found growing in most tropical climates throughout the world, where they still grow today.
- Today, the fruit can be found in different cuisines all over the world, ranging from the savory to the sweet.
- Papaya is one of the top four most widely produced tropical fruits in the world. (The other three are pineapple, mango and avocado.)
left: Maradol/Mexican Papaya, and right: Hawaiian/Sunrise Papaya
- Though there well over a dozen types of papaya, there are two main categories: Maradol/Mexican Papayas and Hawaiian/Sunrise Papayas.
- Mexican Papayas are larger with an oval, somewhat irregular shape, while the Hawaiian Papaya is smaller, a bit sweeter and pear-shaped.
How to Tell if a Papaya is Ripe
An unripe papaya typically has mostly green skin and is very firm.
- A ripe, fresh papaya should be firm, but have some give when you press on it.
- Color is also a factor — the skin of the papaya should be more yellow than green when it’s ripe.
- A raw papaya, even before it’s cut into, should also be subtly aromatic when it’s ripe.
In a larger grocery store, you might see mostly unripe papayas, and these will ripen over a few to several days on the counter at room temperature. The Farmers Markets are likely to have papayas that are ready to eat when you buy them.
To speed up the ripening process, place your papaya in a paper bag, with the top tightly rolled closed.
What does papaya taste like?
The flavor of papaya fruit is reminiscent to that of melon. Though the papaya has a sweet taste, it’s not quite as sweet as melon, and the texture is softer. The flavor also reminds me a little of pumpkin and other orange squash.
*Eating Tip: Papayas are so delicious with just a drizzle of lemon or lime juice.
Can you eat papaya seeds?
The round, black seeds of the papaya are typically removed and thrown away — however, they are actually edible! With a slightly spicy-peppery flavor and a crunchy texture, they’re often used on salads and are even sometimes ground and used in curry blends. Taste them and see what you think.
Health Benefits of Papaya
There are too many health benefits of papaya to list.
For starters Papayas contain high levels of antioxidants including vitamins A, C and E. They’re also high in fiber, which can help lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. Since I’m not a nutritionist or health expert, you can read more about the health benefits here.
When are they in season?
You can find papayas year round, and peak season is early summer through the fall.
How to Store Cut Papaya
Once cut, the papaya should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It’s best to eat it within a couple of days.
So now, let’s learn how to cut a papaya!
– On a dry cutting board, use a sharp knife to cut about ½ to 1 inch off each end of the fruit, to make a base. (A Chef’s knife is best, but if it’s a smaller papaya, a paring knife is okay too.) Then stand it one one of the bases to easily slice through the Papaya, lengthwise.
– The best way to remove the seeds is with a spoon.
– Place the papaya, round side up, on a clean, dry surface to remove the skin. You can do this with a vegetable peeler.
– OR, stand the fruit on one of its bases again, and use a knife to cut just between the skin and the flesh, moving it downwards and following the curve of the fruit.– Now that the skin is removed, the next step is to cut the flesh as you like.
– You can make thick or thin slices, cubes, a small dice, etc. (A melon baller is also a fun way to cut the fruit out of the papaya skin.)– You can also use the papaya as a “bowl.” (This is often called a papaya boat.) This is best done with smaller papayas, like a Strawberry Papaya. – You can fill the papaya bowl with a pretty fruit salad.
Here’s a recipe for Papaya Salad with Avocado and Cactus Pear Dressing, and you can also use it on avocado toast like this.
How to Cut a Papaya
- 1 small Papaya (a Strawberry Papaya, for example)
- Cut about ½ to 1 inch off each end of the fruit, to make a base. Then stand it one one of the bases to easily slice through the middle of the Papaya, lengthwise.
- – Use a spoon to gently remove the seeds. (They're edible, so save them if you like their peppery crunch to add to a salad.)
- Place the papaya, round side up, on a clean, dry surface to remove the skin. You can do this with a vegetable peeler. OR, stand the fruit on one of its bases again, and use a Chef's knife to cut just between the skin and the flesh, moving the knife downwards and following the curve of the fruit.
- Now, with the skin and seeds removed, you can cut the papaya into slices, large or small dice, etc. Alternately, you can keep the half whole and use it as a "bowl" for salad or other fruits, like berries.