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       Volume I - May 23, 2008

Papaya — Oh Mya!
by Alice Osborne

Fresh papaya fruit is available year-round in most markets, thanks to imported crops. Papaya nectar is available canned and bottled. Some markets also carry chopped fruit in juice in the cold case of the produce department near the juices. The peppery seeds are edible, yet the skin is not.

Although it can weigh in up to a whopping twenty pounds, the average papaya in the market is about six inches long and weighs from one to two pounds.

Select mostly yellow fruit with a bit of green; let them fully ripen at home. When fully ripe, the skin is bright yellow. Unripe fruit will be an overall light yellowish-green, but not completely green.

Ripe fruit should be firm yet yield to gently pressure, feel heavy for its size and have smooth skin with no blemishes.

As long as not a result of bruises or cuts, a few black or moldy spots are perfectly okay and will not affect the flavor of the flesh. As with most fruits, use your nose. The ripe papaya should have a sweet aroma. Avoid fruits that are overly soft unless you intend to puree them and use immediately.

Papayas are highly perishable but shelf life can be extended. Ripe papayas should be refrigerated to slow down the ripening process. Papayas ripen within a few days at room temperature—even faster if put in a paper bag. Once ripe, this fruit quickly turns to mush if not properly stored.

Place ripe, whole fruit in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, and it should last about a week.

To freeze, peel then slice lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Cut into pieces and pack into rigid containers or heavy duty plastic freezer bags. Cover with a 30 percent sugar solution (4 cups water to 2 cups sugar) and freeze up to ten months.

Thawed fruit will be soft, so you may wish to use it in a partially-thawed state for fresh use applications. It will be fine for cooking purposes, although not quite as firm as fresh. You can also pop the thawed fruit into the blender for a puree or add a bit of water for a juice.

Quick and easy smoothie recipe combines papayas with orange juice and frozen yogurt for a delicious drink suitable for breakfast, snack, or a light lunch. Feel free to substitute low-fat or non-fat yogurt. Use ice cream if you are feeling decadent.

2 ripe papayas
1/2 C orange juice
1/2 C vanilla frozen yogurt

Peel, seed and coarsely chop papayas. Combine papaya, orange juice, and frozen yogurt in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

(From Fast! Fresh! Fruity! by Karen Greene, New Hope Press)
Yield: 2 servings

  Download this recipe.

If you like peach or apricot pie, try this easy papaya pie for a touch of the tropics. Using a pre-made graham cracker pie crust makes this a quick and easy dessert, but do allow for cooling time before serving.

1/2 C light brown sugar
1/4 C granulated white sugar
2 C (about 1 medium papaya) fresh papaya cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tspground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1 large egg, beaten
1 9” graham cracker pie crust

Preheat oven to 350 F. Whisk together brown sugar and white sugar. Add papayas and toss to coat. Let rest for 10 minutes.

Place papayas with its juices in a heavy saucepan. Simmer 10 minutes. Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt. Continue to cook about another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fruit is softened, but not falling apart.

Remove papaya mixture from the heat and let cool until lukewarm. Stir in beaten egg with a large fork until well-combined, taking care to leave the fruit in chunks.

Pour papaya filling into graham cracker pie crust. Bake for about 45 minutes. Let papaya pie cool before serving.

(From Peggy Trowbridge Filippone)
Yield: 6 to 8 servings (1 pie)

  Download this recipe.

Papaya adds moisture and flavor to these easy spiced muffins that begin with a cake mix. The cream cheese frosting adds extra decadence, however you may simply sprinkle the muffins with powdered sugar or omit the topping completely. This same recipe may be used to make Papaya Raisin Quick Bread.

1 package French vanilla cake mix
3 eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
1/3 C vegetable oil
½ C sour cream
¼ C water
½ C applesauce
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 C mashed fresh papaya
1 C raisins, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes and drained
¼ C chopped pecans, optional

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting:
3 oz cream cheese, room temperature
½ Tbsp or whole milk
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325 F. Line muffin tins with muffin papers. In a large bowl, beat cake mix, eggs, oil, sour cream, water, applesauce, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger on low speed for 1 minute. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 additional minutes. Batter may look a little lumpy.

Fold in papaya, raisins, and pecans. Fill muffin papers 3/4 full. Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before frosting.

For the Frosting:
Beat together cream cheese, powdered sugar, cream, vanilla, and cinnamon until smooth. (Alternatively, you may simply sprinkle the muffins or bread with powdered sugar or omit topping completely.)

Note: Use the same method to make Papaya Raisin Bread. Pour batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour or until center tests done with a toothpick.

Yield: 24 muffins or 2 small loaves
(From Peggy Trowbridge Filippone)

  Download this recipe.

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