Puerto Vallarta – What is a Papaya, Really?

The Truth about Papayas
Papayas, bananas and mangoes abound in Puerto Vallarta and growing them is easy, given just a small plot of land. Our first home in Puerto Vallarta had minimum space to garden, yet we grew bananas and papayas in our parking strip and always had a yield. When we pass by on walks with the pup we are always pleased to see the current tenants enjoying the fruits of our labors!
What a surprise to find out that papayas are WAY ahead of humans when it comes to gender issues. It has long been acknowledged that there are three separate sexes of the papaya plant: male, female and hermaphrodite. The male produces no fruit, but provides the pollen, in such a fair and equal manner. The female papaya, pretty little thing that she is produces fruit that is actually not edible unless it has been pollinated! And so… the hermaphrodite self pollinates, due to the fact it produces fruit that contains the male stamens and the female ovaries, therefore doing all the work and getting only one third the credit. Hermaphrodite papaya trees are the only ones found in a commercial orchard for obvious reasons.
Another oddity regarding the papaya is that is it a BERRY! Who would have thought? But it does make sense when one sees the belly full of seeds that it contains. Papayas are ripe when they have turned amber-orange hue and soft to touch, almost like an avocado. Though native to southern Mexico and Central and northern South America, papaya is now grown in many tropical areas, such as Florida, the Caribbean Islands, India, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Hawaii. There are officially 22 accepted species of the fruit, though only one is grown in the vicinity of Puerto Vallarta.
Though papaya is used in soups, curries and salads, the most common manner of consumption is raw. Some people like the black seeds, claiming they are spicy and can be used as a pepper substitute when ground. Though we have never seen anyone in Puerto Vallarta doing so, we have also seen young leaves of the papaya plant steamed and eaten like a vegetable.
We always rinse our produce off before we begin to prepare, no matter what type and whether we consume of the outer layer. Cut the papaya in half and scoop the seeds out with a spoon. Quarter the halves (so you have eight total slices) and tenderly cut the rind from the meat with a sharp paring knife. Cut into chunks and squeeze a lime over the lot and mix gently. Some like a little sprinkle of spice such as Tajin®, as well.
İBuen provecho!
Que es cómo es.

Thanks to our guest blogger Adam Garcia for this article!

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