The papaya – part 1

The papaya


Papaya are native to Central America.

Thee are two varietes of papayas, the Hawaiian papaya is the most common variety and may weigh one pound each, and less common Mexican Papaya which can weigh up to 15 punds. They are available all year. Papayas are known for their enzyme, papain, which is the basis for many meat-tenderizing products on the market.


Papaya have exacting climate requirements for vigorous growth and fruit production. They must have warmth through the year and will be damaged by light frosts. Brief exposure to 32 Fahrenheit is damaging and prolonged cold without overhead sprinkling will kill the plants. Cold, wet soil is almost is almost always lethal. Cool temperatures will also alter fruit flavor. Papayas make excellent container and greenhouse specimens where soil moisture and temperature can be moderated.


It is believed that the papaya originated in southern Mexico, Central America, or West Indies. Now widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical countries, there are about 45 species of papaya. The most common variety in the United States is the Solo papaya, which is grown in Hawaii and Florida. Mexican Papaya are much larger than the Hawaiian types and may be more than 15 inches long.


The papaya is considered to be one of the healthiest fruits to eat and to some the most nutritious fruit of all. In 1992, the Center for Science in The Public Interest (CSPI) a Washington based consumer group that studies nutrition, compared 40 fruits for their overall healthfulness. Based on a point system awarded to each fruit for the RDA percentage of the nine individual vitamins plus estimations for potassium and fiber, the papaya was number one,  followed by cantaloupe, strawberries, oranges, and tangerines. Papayas are not only nutritious they are also delicious.

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