Papayas is one of Thailand's most loved fruits and is the main ingredient in the most addictive Thai green papaya salads. Let's learn how to cut papaya, green or ripe, using easy methods that are sure to get you to enjoy this exotic fruit in the most delicious ways!
- Why Papayas?
- Why You'll Love Papayas
- What is the difference between green and ripe papaya?
- Part 1. How to Cut a Green Papaya
- How to Peel the Skin of a Green Papaya
- How to Shred Green Papaya for Thai Papaya Salads
- What does Green papaya taste like?
- How to Choose a Green Papaya for Papaya Salads
- What Does Green Papaya Taste Like
- Green Papaya Recipes
- Part 2. How to Cut a Ripe Papaya
- How to Serve Ripe Papaya
- Recipes using Ripe Papayas
- How to Choose a Ripe Papaya?
- What does Ripe Papaya Taste like
- What to do with Papaya Seeds
- Helpful Kitchen Notes and Tips
- Helpful Kitchen Tools
- Variations & Substitutes
- Storing Leftovers
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How to Cut a Papaya (Green or Ripe-4 Ways!)
- Related Recipes You'll Love
- More Helpful Thai Cooking Tips
I will divide this blog post into two parts. One is for green papaya, and the other is for ripe papaya. Since this is a Thai food blog, the emphasis will be on young green papayas, commonly used in the iconic Thai papaya salad dish.
Each section will provide a step-by-step guide, perfect for visual learners!
Green papayas are commonly used in Thai cooking, especially in Thai green papaya salad dishes. If you want to try one of the most famous delicious dishes, try Thai papaya salad at least once.
Even better, you can learn how to make it at home! To make the best Thai salads, you must know how to choose, use, and shred a green papaya.
Why You'll Love Papayas
- Thai green papaya salad is a staple in Thai cuisine. Its addictive and unforgettable flavors make it a must-try dish. Learn how to make it at home for the best Thai salad experience.
- Papayas are a nutritious fruit packed with health benefits.
- It's a versatile fruit. They can be used in salads, soups, and smoothies and are a great source of Vitamin C.
What is the difference between green and ripe papaya?
The main difference between green and ripe papaya is their taste, color, and texture. Green papayas are firm, white, and slightly tart.
Meanwhile, ripe papayas are soft and have sweet, juicy, bright orange flesh.
Part 1. How to Cut a Green Papaya
When referring to green papayas, what that means is the young, green papaya that is still firm with green skin. They are unripened papaya with crispy, firm white flesh. Green papayas are more commonly used in cooking than ripe papayas in Thailand.
How to Peel the Skin of a Green Papaya
Green papayas are unripe fruits found in tropical regions like South America, Central America, Africa, and Asia. Learning how to use them at different stages will allow you to work them into tasty recipes that will please both your palate and loved ones!
Here's a simple method for cutting a green unripe papaya.
- Place the green papaya on a flat surface like a solid cutting board. Have a spoon ready to scrape the seeds.
- Using a sharp knife, carefully cut both ends of the papaya—the top and bottom parts. See the image for reference.
- With the papaya upright, Peel the skin with a knife or a peeler, revealing the firm, white flesh.
- Rinse the sticky white sap off the peeled papaya, then wipe dry with a clean towel. There are three different ways to shred the green papaya from here. Read on below.
How to Shred Green Papaya for Thai Papaya Salads
there are two ways to shred green papaya for making Thai papaya salad. One is the easiest and safest route, while the other is more for those with advanced knife skills. If this is your first few attempts to cut and shred papaya, I highly recommend using the Kiwi peeler method.
1. Using a Kiwi Peeler
A kiwi peeler is a standard peeler for peeling green papaya. They are not expensive, and they are quite versatile. You can peel carrots, cucumbers, diced mangoes, apples, or other firm fruits and vegetables.
1. Slice the skin off the papaya. Rinse with water, then pat dry with a clean paper towel.
2. Firmly scrape the peeled papaya with a Kiwi peeler until you have enough for your recipe. That's it! Done.
2. Using a knife for the hand-chopping method
This is the old-school manual style that many Thais chefs are taught to peel and shred papaya. It's quite dangerous if you are not familiar with this method. Please use extremely caution.
Wearing thick gloves is a good idea to prevent the knife from slipping and slicing your hand. Let's see how's it's done.
1. Peel the green skin off of the whole papaya like in the above steps. Rinse and wipe dry.
2. Hold the clean papaya with one hand, and with your dominant hand, hold a semi-heavy knife.
3. Very carefully and firmly chop into the firm skin of the papaya. Repeat this motion repeatedly until the skin is shredded into smaller pieces.
4. Then carefully slice the shredded strands through the entire length of the papaya until you have enough for a recipe. Viola!
Leave the papaya whole rather than cutting it in half to keep it fresh for several days.
3. Slicing a papaya for soups and curries
Peel the skin as described above to cut papaya for soups and curries.
- Peel the papaya's skin, then rise, wash, and pat dry. Cut the papaya in half. Use a spoon to remove the seeds.
- On a stable surface, with the papaya upright, slice the flesh into large but thin slices around 2-3 inches long.
- Slice enough for a recipe and save the other half in a Ziploc bag in the fridge for later use. Done!
What does Green papaya taste like?
Green papayas have a slightly bitter taste and a crunchy texture. They are often used in savory dishes, such as stir-fries, soups, and curries, as their flavor complements well with spices, herbs, and other ingredients.
How to Choose a Green Papaya for Papaya Salads
When choosing a green papaya for Thai papaya salads, look for one that is firm and unripened. It should have a bright green color and feel heavy for its size.
Avoid green papayas that have started to turn yellow or have soft spots, as they are likely overripe.
What Does Green Papaya Taste Like
Young papaya tastes slightly tart and crunchy, while ripe papaya has sweet and juicy flesh. Green papayas are often used in savory dishes, while ripe papayas are enjoyed as a refreshing fruit.
Green Papaya Recipes
Various recipes use green papayas, such as Thai papaya salad and Lao green papaya salad. The salads typically combine shredded green papaya with ingredients like lime juice, fish sauce, peanuts, and chili peppers for a flavorful and refreshing dish.
Part 2. How to Cut a Ripe Papaya
Ripe papayas, found in peak season during early summer, are a delicious treat with their bright yellow skin and sweet, deep-orange flesh. Ripe papaya is a nutritious and delightful addition to fruit salads and smoothie bowls.
Or eat them plain!
Here's the best way to cut a ripe papaya.
- Place the ripe papaya on a clean work surface. Slice both ends off with a sharp knife.
- Use a sharp knife or vegetable peeler to slice the greenish-yellow skin off. After long strips of skin are off, you'll have a bright orange-yellow flesh inside!
- Cut the papaya in half lengthwise, and you'll see what seems like thousands of black-gray seeds.
- Scoop out the black seeds from the papaya using a spoon.
- Then, scrape the fibrous part below the seeds. This part is full of soft strains and is not usable. For fun, you can leave one half as a papaya boat for serving!
- Place the papaya half on the flat side down. Cut the papaya halves into juicy, bite-sized pieces into any desired shape of choice.
Enjoy the buttery texture of your fresh papaya!
How to Serve Ripe Papaya
- To serve ripe papaya, you can cut it into slices or cubes and enjoy it as is. It can also be added to fruit salads and smoothie bowls or used as a topping for yogurt or ice cream.
- Make papaya balls using a melon scooper.
- Place the balls in the freezer and snack on them as a delicious, refreshing snack, or serve them on a papaya boat.
- Make a papaya smoothie bowl and top with your favorite toppings.
Recipes using Ripe Papayas
Ripe papayas are delicious and can be used in various recipes. They have a sweet and tropical flavor that pairs well with other fruits and ingredients.
Some popular recipes using ripe papayas include these recipes, smoothies, desserts, and salsa. Check out these fabulous recipes with ripe papayas, Papaya pineapple smoothie, Papaya smoothie for weight loss, Mexican papaya salad, and these 12 papaya dessert recipes!
How to Choose a Ripe Papaya?
- When selecting a perfect papaya at grocery stores, look for a fruit with smooth, unblemished skin. Whether you go for the Hawaiian papaya, Mexican papaya, or the smaller Indian varieties, a ripe papaya will always be a great addition to your meals.
- When choosing a ripe papaya, look for one evenly colored with orange or yellow. It should indent very slightly when pressed. Avoid papayas that have soft black spots or are overly mushy, as they may be overripe or have been bruised.
- Buying during peak papaya season from May to September is ideal for the most delicious fruit.
- Avoid still green papayas, as they are unripe and will not have the desired sweetness and texture. Save the green ones for Thai salads instead! (:
What does Ripe Papaya Taste like
Ripe papayas have juicy and sweet flesh with a creamy texture that is often compared to a mix of melon, mango, and peach. Their refreshing and tropical flavor makes them a perfect addition to smoothies and salads.
Or they can simply be enjoyed by themselves.
What to do with Papaya Seeds
Papaya seeds are edible and can be used in various ways. They have a bitter taste and slightly peppery flavor and can be added to smoothies and salad dressings or even used as a spice in cooking.
They are never used in Thai cooking.
However, they should be consumed in moderation, as they can have a strong flavor.
They can also be used for planting a papaya tree if you are a botanist! If living in the cold Zone, bring your papaya plant indoors during the cold months.
I've tried several times in my Zone with no success! (Zone 6).
Helpful Kitchen Notes and Tips
- Always wash your peeled papaya after peeling the green skin off to wipe off the sticky white sap on the flesh of the papaya.
- To keep the shredded or peeled papaya crispy, soak them in an ice bath in a medium bowl before using.
- To make a papaya boat for serving, cut the whole papaya in half and scoop out the seeds, creating a hollow center.
- For a refreshing papaya smoothie, blend ripe papaya pieces with ice cream and a splash of milk.
- In Mexican and Indian cuisines, papaya is often used in various recipes, adding a strong flavor.
- To speed up the ripening process of green papayas, place them in a paper bag at room temperature.
- Store cut papaya in an airtight container in the refrigerator for freshness.
Helpful Kitchen Tools
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- Invest in a good-quality vegetable peeler, a sharp chef's knife, and a melon baller for precise and clean cuts.
- A kiwi peeler is a must for shredding papayas.
- A solid cutting board
- A paring knife for peeling the soft skin of the ripe papaya
- Additionally, a great chef's knife is a must for cutting a papaya.
Variations & Substitutes
Experiment with smaller papayas for flavor profiles, such as Hawaiian or Mexican varieties.
- Keep leftover ripe papaya in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days.
- Green papaya lasts a week in a Ziploc bag in the fridge.
Frequently Asked Questions
Follow the steps for cutting ripe papaya into long slices and then dice them into cubes.
Enhance the flavor with a squeeze of lime juice or mix it into a refreshing fruit salad.
Enjoy papaya slices, add them to a fruit salad, or blend them into a delicious smoothie.
Wait until the papaya is fully ripe on the tree for the best flavor and texture.
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