Papaya and papayón are two of the tropical fruits that we have incorporated into our most common pantry, also of national cultivation such as mango or avocado. Fleshy, juicy and full of beneficial properties, to enjoy it to the fullest it should be master the art of the knife with her when cutting it to perfection.
Although it is not a fruit that presents, a priori, so many difficulties in accessing its pulp, such as the avocado itself or a watermelon, depending on the size of the specimen and the use we want to give it, can complicate the matter. There’s a basic method to cut and peel papaya perfect for its versatility, and some preparation variants with which we can play according to our needs.
And as we usually warn, fruits and vegetables do not come with an instruction manual or a single destination; if you find it more comfortable or easy to perfect your own cutting technique, go ahead with it. The important is that we find it easy without investing a lot of time, without wasting fruit and adapting the pieces to what we are going to prepare.
How to cut and peel a papaya step by step
If we can count on national papaya in season, at its ripening point, all the better. A good papaya will be tastier and sweeter when it yields slightly to the touch, because if it is still very green it will be hard, somewhat rough and insipid. Like any fruit, if it is overripe it can be a bit chaotic to cut it, since it will release a lot of juices and we will probably create a small mess in the form of puree.
Starting from a medium-sized and elongated standard papaya, we will need a good kitchen board, the bigger the better, firm and that collects any possible juices, a chef’s or santoku knife with a large leaf, and a smaller one with vegetables and fruits, very sharp.
In addition, a not very thick ladle or soup spoon, a manual vegetable peeler and one or two bowls, or similar containers, can be useful. And it is more than advisable to put on the apron.
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The cut step by step
After washing and drying the whole papaya, we begin by practicing a longitudinal cut in half, to divide it into two symmetrical parts. Optionally, and especially if they are somewhat damaged, we can first cut the ends to make them straight, but it is not strictly necessary.
Next we will have two parts with black seeds concentrated in the central part of the “boats”, as it happens with the melon. The easiest thing is to remove them with a spoon, because they come out very easily if the papaya is at its point. We will try not to remove too much pulp in the process or waste its juices.
After cleaning the fruit inside, we have the possibility of peeling each half by placing it face down on the board, using a manual peeler or, if we have the knack, a suitable knife.
Another option is to cut the pieces first, if we want to serve them in “gajos” or slices. In this way, each one can be peeled individually with a fruit peeling knife, or it will be more comfortable to distribute them among the diners who want to taste them directly with their hands, as is usually -or used to- be done with melons.
If we prefer to chop the papaya more, we have no choice but to cut each slice without skin cubed or diced, already perfectly clean, depositing them in a bowl, salad bowl or container to store in the fridge. These slices can be longitudinal, parallel to each half, or perpendicular, depending on the size of the fruit.
Other types of cut
An alternative method, more practical for harder papayas and with more cylindrical shapes, less pointed, is peel the whole piece before cutting, with a good quality manual peeler or carefully using a good knife.
If the papaya has a more rounded profile and is smaller, more cylindrical, we can cut it into perpendicular portions, without dividing it in two beforehand. So we can get rings or disksor, when it is very small, divide it into two halves in the shape of bowl, very easy to empty of seeds. In this case it is preferable to leave it unpeeled to use it as a bowl that we can Fill with a smoothie, yogurt, other fruits, ice cream, etc.
Ideas and recipes to enjoy papaya at home
Papaya is a fresh and light delicacy in its own right, with a sweet tropical flavor and a very pleasant meaty texture, which is enhanced by a touch of lemon or lime juice, and even a little bit of salt and/or pepper. We can also take it with other fruits, in sweet or savory salads, combined with seafood and fish, yogurt or in smoothies and ice creams.
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Images | iStock – Unsplash – Marco Verch
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