Papayas: DYK Papayas are more than fruit salad. did you know...

  • Papayas are believed to be native to Mexico and Central America, says Melissa Hartmann de Barros, director of communications for HLB Specialties, Pompano Beach, Fla.
  • Papaya plants grow fast, from seed to fruit-bearing plant in about 8 months.
  • India is the world's largest producer of papayas, at about 5.5 million tons annually.
  • Papaya fruit is classified as a berry
  • Papaya seeds are edible, and when toasted are spicy like a peppercorn, says Mary Ostlund of Brooks Tropicals, Homestead, Fla.
  • With striking orange flesh and contrasting dark seeds, fruit sells better with a cut sample visible.
  • Tainung papayas, also called formosa, are ready to eat when the skin is green with two stripes of yellow.
  • Is it GMO? Some consumers think all papayas are genetically modified. Hartmann de Barros says it's important to know that GM papaya production is exclusive to Hawaii.
  • A Caribbean Red papaya is ripe when it has at least 50% color and gives to a gentle squeeze, Ostlund says.
  • Careful with that squeezing, however. Papaya should be tested with a full hand, not fingertips, to prevent bruising.
  • To ripen a papaya at home, wrap in paper and leave at room temperature.
  • Hispanic consumers were 16 percentage points more likely to buy papayas than white/Caucasian shoppers, according to The Packer's Fresh Trends 2016.
  • Younger consumers, age 21-39, and households with kids are far more likely to buy papayas than their peers.
  • That could be because papaya are often recommended to pregnant women as a natural cure for indigestion.
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Pamela Riemenschneider
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Photos by Pamela Riemenschneider, HLB Specialties and Brooks Tropicals

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