Foundation Diet and Health
The best perspective for your health
The best perspective for your health
The best perspective for your health
The best perspective for your health

Unripe green papaya

Unripe green papayas (Carica papaya) contain inedible white seeds, but are popular used as a vegetable and particularly as a salad.

Papayas (Carica papaya) can be eaten raw, and the pulp has a sweet flavor. What do green papayas taste like? Green papayas have a tangy flavor and can be used like vegetables.

Culinary uses:

Green papayas are used in salads, chutneys, salsas, soups, and stews. They are also an excellent way to season curries. It is possible to prepare green papaya raw in a similar way to kohlrabi or zucchini.

Green papayas have green skin and light green to white flesh. The white seeds of the green papaya are inedible. Only the black seeds of the ripe papaya are edible; these have a spicy flavor and the heat can be compared to that of nasturtium or pepper.

How do you eat a papaya? Ripe or unripe, cut the papaya into two halves and take the seeds out. With ripe papayas, you can scoop the pulp out with a spoon. Green papayas can be peeled with a vegetable peeler and cut into bite-size pieces. Green papayas are delicious both cooked and raw. When raw, you can make a very good salad by grating the papaya finely or slicing into thin strips.

Southeast Asian cuisine has several dishes that contain green papayas. Som Tam, for example, a spicy, flavorful salad with raw papaya, fish sauce, and shrimp, is the national dish in Thailand, Isan (a northeastern region in Thailand), and Laos. The salad is traditionally eaten with sticky rice. In Laos and Isan, the dish is usually more spicy and sour than in central Thailand. In Brazil, on the other hand, papayas are often used to produce sweets or are preserved.1

This link will bring you to a recipe for a healthy, raw vegan Som Tam Salad.

How do you get papayas to ripen? Bear in mind that green papayas will not ever completely ripen after being picked. The postripening process is only possible if the papayas have reached a certain level of ripeness when picked and are already slightly yellow. Ripe papayas have an even yellow color and it should be possible to press your thumb into the flesh. Sliced papayas will only stay good for a few days in the refrigerator and do not continue to ripen.

Very new papaya leaves can be cooked and eaten but tend to have a bitter flavor. Tea made from dried papaya leaves is believed to alleviate stomach pain.

Vegan Recipe for a Papaya Smoothie:
Ingredients: ½ green apple, 1 frozen banana, ½ cup chopped green papaya, ½ cup baby spinach, and 1 lime.

Preparation: Chop all of the ingredients and then purée with the lime juice in a blender or smoothie maker. To reach the desired consistency, you can add some water. Pour the smoothie into a cocktail glass and top with coconut flakes and/or dried goji berries.

Vegan recipes containing green papaya can be found under the header: “Recipes that contain the largest amounts of this ingredient” (at the very bottom or on the side of the screen).

Purchasing — where to shop:

Ripe papayas can be bought at selected supermarket chains and wholesalers such as Coop, Migros, Denner, Volg, Spar, Aldi, Lidl, Rewe, Edeka, Hofer (Europe); Walmart, Whole Foods Markets, Kroger, and Safeway (United States); Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, and Holland & Barret (Great Britain); Metro, Extra Foods, and Goodness Me (Canada); and Coles, Woolworths, and Harris Farm (Australia). However, green papayas are much more difficult to find. Asian markets or larger stores with a good selection of tropical fruits often also have green papayas. Organic green papayas are available at some organic supermarkets that carry specialty produce or you can order them online. In their unripe state, green papayas can be shipped easily without a loss of quality.

When purchasing, you should make sure that the green papaya is very firm. If you press on the green skin with your thumb, it should not give way to the pressure. A well-known papaya variety is called Kaik Tam, and in its unripe state it’s about 20 cm long and weighs about 500 grams. Wrapped in foil it resembles a thicker cucumber.

Finding wild:

Carica papaya does not grow wild although related wild species of Carica can be found in Central and South America. Carica peltata was first believed to be a wild species, but it was later discovered to be a wild cultivar. Some known wild papayas include Carica monoica Desf. (produces seeds up to 1 cm in size), Carica pubescens Lenné and Koch (Syn.: C. candamarcensis; has the size of a fist and grows in cooler mountainous areas of the tropics), and Carica stipulata Badillo (has the spines [also known as stipules] that give it its name on the stem and is very popular for breeding because of its high resistance to viruses).2

Storing:

The optimum storage temperature for green papayas is 12–13 °C. If the fruit is sliced or halved, remove the seeds before storing in the refrigerator. They will keep for about 2 days when covered with foil or kept in a closed container. Half-ripe papayas can be identified by their skin, which is no longer completely green but rather yellowish. At this stage, papayas can ripen if stored at room temperature. It is recommended that you regularly check their state of ripening by pressing the skin slightly.3

Nutrients — nutritional information — calories:

The papaya is 88.8 % water and as such contains almost as much water as the melon (90 %). Although papayas contain low amounts of carbohydrates, protein, and fat, they are a good source of vitamins.

Papayas are rich in fiber and contain the enzyme papain, which is much more abundant in green papayas than in ripe papayas.4 Papayas also contain lycopene (antioxidant), magnesium, potassium, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, niacin, selenium, iron, phosphorus, and pectin.

Select CLICK FOR under the photo of the ingredient to see the nutrient tables. These tables provide complete nutritional information, the percentage of the recommended allowance, and comparison values with other ingredients.

Health aspects — benefits:

The enzyme papain is mainly used by the plant itself to ward off pests. It is found in high concentrations in the unripe, green skin and the white seeds of the fruit. This proteolytic enzyme breaks down protein — similar to the pepsin in gastric juice. As a result, papain also promotes the digestion of food. In the right amounts, green papayas can help with stomach problems, duodenal ulcers, diaphragmatic perforation, and heartburn. This is because they neutralize excess stomach acid. In addition, green papayas have a positive effect on gallbladder dyspepsia, chronic inflammation of the pancreas, various intestinal diseases, and infectious diarrhea.5

The pulp and latex (a milky white liquid) in green papaya are effective against intestinal parasites,2 especially against the porcine roundworm (Ascaris suum), which can infect humans as well as pigs.6

Extracts from papaya leaves help against symptoms of dengue fever, which is transmitted by mosquitoes found in the growing regions.7

The high vitamin A content in ripe papayas relieves skin diseases such as eczema, furunculosis, and acne.4

Dangers — intolerances — side effects:

Since green papayas contain high concentrations of latex, contact with the eyes should be avoided during processing. Otherwise, severe irritation may occur. In the case of a latex allergy, the latex contained in papayas can cause cross-reactivity. Some people are also allergic to the pollen, papain, or other enzymes in papayas.8

Although in many Asian countries breastfeeding women like to eat green papaya salad to stimulate milk production, there is no scientifically based evidence that the galactagogue (galactogens) contained in green papayas have a positive effect on milk production.9 Pregnant women should avoid eating green papayas. In experiments with rats, the high concentration of latex in immature or semi-ripe papayas caused uterine contractions, which is why pregnant women are advised against eating green papayas. In addition, the latex in green papayas can cause bleeding at the placental margin in pregnant women and lead to premature birth.12 Fully mature papayas do not pose a significant risk.10,11

In an animal study, ingredients from papaya seeds were shown to inhibit reproductive ability, but only temporarily: sixty days after the end of the treatment, the number of sperm cells in the semen returned to normal. Indigenous peoples are also said to have used papaya seeds for this.13

When consuming high doses of papaya leaf extract (possible with papaya capsules), the papain contained in the extract can lead to hypoglycemia. However, these extracts also have antioxidant effects and were found to improve the lipid profile and liver and pancreas function in diabetic rats.14

Use as a medicinal plant:

Wikipedia lists the following usages: papain is successfully used in ready-to-use products for digestive problems caused by pepsin deficiency and diseases of the pancreas. There are also combination products on the market that relieve inflammation, edema, and swelling after injury or surgery. The enzymes papaya contains are known to break down inflammatory metabolic products faster and optimize the flow rate of the blood. They are particularly effective in the accompanying long-term treatment of tumors and during radiotherapy. However, this is controversial.15

The papain contained in papayas is isolated using special methods and can thus improve the treatment of herniated discs (chemonucleolysis).16

Indigenous people have also historically cleaned wounds using papaya latex.17

Traditional medicine naturopathy:

The applications in traditional medicine are numerous. The green papaya is used effectively as a household remedy against diarrhea, worms, and high blood pressure. An infusion of the blossoms, parts of the bark (against toothache), latex, and leaves (against malaria) is said to have health-promoting, anti-inflammatory effects when used internally or externally.

The unripe fruit is not only known to be a contraceptive, but is also used in some regions to induce abortion. For this reason, indigenous peoples have also used high doses as abortifacients.

Description — origin:

The origin of the green papaya is not clear. First domestications are suspected to have taken place in Central rather than South America.2 The papaya is widespread in subtropical and tropical areas. Today, it is cultivated in Africa, Asia, South America, and Central America. Papaya is popular on the Caribbean Islands, in Florida, Texas, California, and Hawaii.1

Cultivation in gardens or as potted plants:

The seeds of a ripe papaya are suitable for sowing. A loose, low-nutrient substrate is recommended so that the roots can fully develop. The pH value should not exceed 7 as is the case with coconut substrate, peat, or cultivation soil. To ensure that the planting substrate is free of pests and fungi, organic substrate can be heated in the oven for a quarter of an hour at a minimum temperature of 160 °C before use (not necessary with coconut substrate or perlite). The substrate must be slightly moist and the heat-resistant container should not be tightly closed because of the water vapor produced.18

After sowing, place the pot in a warm place with indirect light. The germination process takes about two to six weeks and ideally takes place at temperatures between 24 and 30 °C. During germination, the substrate must be moist, but never wet. It is best to use a spray bottle for watering. After germination, you should keep the substrate only moderately moist. Two weeks after germination, you can place the plants in a sunny place, protected from the wind. In short, watering the papaya tree correctly is challenging. Particularly in winter, the tree cannot tolerate too much moisture. Papayas can survive the winter at a minimum of 10 °C.3

Cultivation — harvest:

The fleshy consistency of papayas earned them the nickname Melonenbaumfrüchte (melon tree fruits) in German. Botanically speaking, however, papayas are neither a tree nor a fruit. They are better described as a perennial that used to bear smaller berries and now bears giant berries.3 The papaya perennial does not form secondary wood, but is often hollow inside and filled with water at the base.2 Papaya plants grow best in subtropical or tropical climates. In ideal conditions, they can grow up to 3 meters high within a year. Papayas can produce their first fruits after one year. However, their main production is in the second to fourth year of cultivation, where the plants reach heights of up to 10 meters, depending on the variety. Lower temperatures produce smaller fruits. Papayas thrive in full sunlight and well-drained, porous soils.

Papayas have male and female flowers that cannot be distinguished from each other when young. This makes large-scale planting more difficult. One solution is to place several young plants in the same seed hole and to recognize the male plants by their flowering and pull them out again. To ensure good fertilization, about 10 percent of the male perennials are kept.2

There are also hermaphroditic varieties, that is, those with both sexes on one plant. These hermaphrodites produce somewhat smaller fruits by self-pollination, which are very suitable for economic consumption because of the high number of papayas produced. However, given the heterozygous genetic material (diploid chromosome sets), the hermaphrodite’s hermaphrodite flower can “turn over” in the course of its life. This means that an occasional “reversal of sex” can occur in hermaphroditic heterozygous flowers (Mm and MHm). Exceptions are those with two purely female alleles (mm; M= male, MH= hermaphrodite, m= female).2

The cultivation method in conventional monocultures frequently causes disease. Papayas are very susceptible to pests such as nematodes, insects, fungi, and particularly viruses.

The papaya ringspot virus (PRV or PRSV) caused mass infestation in Hawaii in 1992. The viruses are transmitted by insects. There is no antidote here; the only solution is to cut down the “tree-like” ones that have been used for only a few years.19 In the 1990s, genetic engineering researchers in New York and Hawaii developed virus-resistant varieties that have also been used in Thailand, Jamaica, Brazil, and Venezuela since 1998/99.20

Genetically modified papayas may be imported into the US, Japan, and many other countries without issues; Europe has so far been excluded. The few organic plantations that exist have significant problems with the pollen of the genetically modified perennials. This contamination can render their entire harvest unusable.21

General information:

Carica papaya L. is a plant species of the melon tree family (Caricaceae). The genus Carica contains only the species described here.

Alternative names:

Latin synonyms for the green papaya are Carica hermaphrodita, C. mammaya, C. quinqueloba, Papaya carica, Papaya communis, Papaya cucumerina, and Papaya vulgaris.21

In English, the green papaya is known simply as the green papaya. It used to be called pawpaw or papaw, which is derived from the original word apapai.

In Thai, the papaya is called Malakor.23,24

Further uses:

The food industry and food sector also use components of the papaya. Papaya, for example, tenderizes meat, clarifies beer (even if this violates the German Purity Law [Reinheitsgebot]), and helps in tanning leather and preventing shrinkage and matting of wool and silk.22 The rubber of papaya is also processed into chewing gum.21

Literature — sources:

24 sources

  1. Wikipedia Englisch Papaya.

  2. Brücher H. Tropische Nutzpflanzen. Berlin: Springer. 1977.

  3. WIFSS Western Institute for Food Safety & Security. Papayas. 2016.

  4. Roger JDP. Heilkräfte der Nahrung. Zürich: Advent-Verlag. 2006.

  5. Osato JA, Santiago LA et al. Antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of unripe papaya. Life Sciences. 1993;53(17).

  6. Satrija F, Nansen P et al. Effect of papaya latex against Ascaris suum in naturally infected pigs. Journal of Helminthology. 1994;68(4).

  7. Ahmad N, Fazal H et al. Dengue fever treatment with Carica papaya leaves extracts. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine. 2011;1(4).

  8. Blanco C, Ortega N et al. Carica papaya pollen allergy. Annals of Allergy, Asthma Immunology. 1998;81(2).

  9. Bethesda MD. Drugs and Lactation Database. Papaya. National Library of Medicine (US). 2018.

  10. Adebiyi A, Adaikan PG, Prasad RN. Papaya (Carica papaya) consumation is unsafe in pregnancy: fact or fable? Scientific evaluation of a common belief in some parts of Asia using a rat model. British Journal of Nutrition. 2002;88(2).

  11. Meera S, Ugendra K. Effect of unripe Carica papaya on uterus. Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences India. 2013;4(3).

  12. Aravind G, Debjit B et al. Traditional and medicinal uses of Carica papaya. Journal of Medicinal Plant Studies. 2013;1(1).

  13. Lohiya NK, Mishra PK et al. Reversible azoospermia by oral administration of the benzene chromatographic fraction of the chloroform extract of the seeds of Carica papaya in rabbits. Adv Contracept. 1999;15(2).

  14. Juárez-Rojop IE, Díaz-Zagoya JC et al. Hypoglycemic effect of Carica papaya leaves in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats.

  15. Wikipedia Papaya.

  16. Oppel F, George HH et al. Die Chemonukleolyse mit Chymopapain: Erfahrungen an 100 Fällen. Lendenwirbelsäulenerkrankungen mit Beteiligung am Nervensystem. Neuroorthopädie. Springer: Heidelberg. 1984.

  17. Müller-Jahncke WD, Friedrich C, Meyer U. Arzneimittelgeschichte. 2. überarbeitete Auflage. Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft mbH: Stuttgart. 2005.

  18. Kübelpflanzeninfo.de Papaya.

  19. Pini U. Das Bio-Food Handbuch. Ullmann: Hamburg, Potsdam. 2014.

  20. Gonsalves D. Transgenic Papaya in Hawaii and Beyond. The Journal of Agrobiotechnology Management & Economics. 2004;7(1-2).

  21. Spektrum.de Carica papaya.

  22. Online.uni-marburg.de Papain.

  23. thai-thaifood.de Grüne Papaya (Malakor).

  24. Krack R. Phuket. Reiseführer. Reise Know-How Verlag. 2018: S. 309