Great, you’ve got home from the grocery store with a bag of sweet-smelling papayas. But you’ve suddenly realized you have no idea how to store papaya.
We’ve got you covered.
In this article, we’re running through everything you need to know about papaya storage, and then some, including how to eat papaya, how to get your papaya to ripen faster, and how to freeze papaya. You can also scroll to find tips on how to tell if your papaya has gone off.
For those of you in a hurry, here are the fast facts: You should store your papaya differently, depending on how ripe it is and how soon you want to eat it. To ripen your papaya quickly, place it in a sealed paper bag. To extend the life of your papaya, pop it in the freezer!
The Basics: What’s A Papaya And How Do I Eat It?
Papayas originate in the tropics of the Americas. Interestingly, papaya plants three sexes: male, female, and hermaphrodite.
You’ll almost definitely have papayas from hermaphrodite plants. Most commercial orchards exclusively use hermaphrodite plants, because they can self-pollinate.
Not only is papaya interesting, it’s also incredibly nutritious!
Papaya is rich in antioxidants and contains the papain enzyme, which can make protein easier to digest. Because of this, papaya can combat IBS, digestion, and constipation.
One last thing in case you’ve never eaten papaya before. Here’s how you eat it: cut your papaya in half lengthways, then either remove the flesh with a teaspoon or scoop, or peel the papaya’s skin and cut the flesh into chunks.
Papaya Storage Instructions
When it comes to storing papaya, things can get pretty complicated. The fruit bowl, the refrigerator, the freezer, or a paper bag? We’re talking through your options below.
How To Store Unripe Papaya
While your papaya is ripening, keep it at room temperature. Cold temperatures will slow the ripening process.
To speed the ripening process up just a touch, keep your papaya in a fruit basket, with other ethylene-producing fruit.
If you want your papaya to ripen faster, pop it in a paper bag and seal it with some tape.
Why does this work?
Because papayas produce ethylene, a gas that helps them ripen. Therefore, by trapping the gas in the bag, your papaya will ripen faster.
Want your papaya to ripen even faster? Place an apple, banana, or other ethylene-producing fruit in the bag. Just remember though, that extra piece of fruit will ripen faster too!
How To Store Ripe Papaya
Once you’ve identified that your papaya is ripe – more on that in a bit – transfer it to the refrigerator. This will help to slow the ripening process, keeping your papaya good to eat for longer!
How To Store Cut Papaya
Already cut your papaya into chunks, or eaten one half and got the other left? Simply put your cut papaya in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
It’s important that the container is airtight and sealed – it acts as a protective barrier against your papaya and any moisture, odors, or bacteria in your fridge.
How To Freeze Papaya
Now here’s the really good news: you can freeze papaya.
Therefore, if you’ve just finished ripening your papaya, and you don’t have any plans to use it, consider freezing.
However, the bad news is that your papaya has a high water content. Whilst that means papayas are super good for you, it also means that, after thawing, your papaya will be soft and mushy.
Another thing: make sure your papayas are ripe before freezing. Once frozen, even after thawing, your papayas won’t ripen anymore and will instead be lacking in flavor.
To freeze papaya, follow the steps below:
- Slice or cube your papaya into small pieces.
- Flash freeze your papaya. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Lay your papaya pieces on top, then cover with more baking paper. Pop that all in the freezer for 2 hours.
- Great, now you’ve done your flash freezing step, your papaya chunks won’t all get stuck together, making portioning easier. Transfer your papaya to a freezer bag or airtight container, pop today’s date on it, and you’re all set!
The Storage Life Of Papaya
Now you know how to store your papaya, you need to know how long it lasts.
Is My Papaya Ripe?
First thing’s first, how long your papaya will last depends on how ripe it is currently.
Green papayas are ripe, green papayas that have yellow and orange patches are ripening, and papayas that are over 50% yellow and orange are ripe.
A good rule of thumb to avoid cracking open an unripe papaya, or leaving your papaya to get old, is to feel it. Unripe papayas are firm to the touch, whereas ripe papayas will have a little give in them when you squeeze.
How Long Will My Papaya Take To Ripen?
Expect your papaya to take a week to ripen on the counter and 5 days to ripen in a fruit basket with ethylene-producing fruit.
For faster ripening, opting for a paper bag will shorten the process to 2-3 days, whilst keeping an apple in there too will get your papaya ripe within a day!
How Long Will My Ripe Papaya Last?
Your ripe papaya should last 5-7 days in the fridge. If that’s not long enough, consider the freezer!
At room temperature, your ripe papaya will only last about 2-3 days, so only leave it out if you’re sure you’ll consume it in that timeframe!
How Long Will My Cut Papaya Last?
Once you’ve cut your papaya, you’ve removed its protective layer and exposed the flesh to air and bacteria.
Therefore, even in an airtight container in the refrigerator, your papaya will only last for 3-4 days!
How Long Will My Frozen Papaya Last?
Although we’ve discussed texture changes with frozen papaya, the pro of this method is frozen papaya lasts for up to 6 months!
Help! Has My Papaya Gone Bad?
Finally, let’s cover how to check if your papaya has gone bad. There are no mysteries here, so you should check for:
- Dark spots. Finding a few black spots is fine, but any more than a smattering and that’s a sign your papaya has gone bad!
- Mold. If you see any signs of mold inside your papaya or on the surface, chuck it.
- Soft spots. Wet, sunken spots on your papaya are a sign that extra moisture has invaded. Since papaya is relatively soft, you’re better off not eating your papaya rather than cutting the bad part off, as bacteria could have got through the whole fruit.
- Smell. Sniff for anything out of the ordinary.
- Taste. If all the above looks good, you definitely won’t do yourself any harm by tasting a bit of papaya. Anything other than the usual? Throw it out.
The Round-Up On Papaya
Papaya storage may be a little complicated, but this article gives you everything you need to enjoy your papayas at their best. To recap:
- Ripen papayas at room temperature.
- To ripen a papaya within a day, place it with another ethylene-producing fruit in an airtight bag.
- You can freeze papaya, and it will last for up to 6 months!
- Check for changes in appearance, texture, smell, and taste – in that order – to ascertain if your papaya has gone bad.