Cutting a Papaya Properly
You need to learn how to shop for a good papaya first. It is recommended that you do not buy a totally ripened yellow-orangish one. You must look for a fruit 2 or 3 days before you actually plan to eat it, and go in for one which is a partially ripe specimen, having green and yellow mélanged skin. Press it with your thumb before buying, to make sure that the fruit is firm, yet soft. Your thumb should neither completely be able to dent it, nor should it be absolutely tough and unimpressionable. It should be somewhere in-between. Of course, to make the Som tam or the Thai papaya salad, you need to buy the green, unripe version of the fruit.
When you bring the fruit home, allow it to stand in the kitchen for about two days, so that it ripens to the optimal extent, and then prepare to cut it. You can store it in a paper bag with an ethylene-releasing ripening catalyst, like an apple or banana, in order to make it ripen faster. After it has ripened to the extent you desire, you can also wrap it in a cling film and store it in the fridge, as cooler temperatures limit it from ripening any further. Remember, never store a papaya for more than seven days, even in the refrigerator.
While preparing to cut it, make sure that you are near the sink, as the entire procedure is extremely slushy, and you will need to wash your hands several times. Make it a point to also put on an apron, and try to place the cutting board on some newspapers, which you can dispose off easily later.
- Lay the fruit down and cut off its two ends.
- Then cut the fruit, first lengthwise and then breadth-wise.
- Now, take a spoon and scoop out all the black seeds and the slushy membranous parts into a small bowl. This will leave you with only the fleshy fruit, sans the messy beans.
- Then, take each quarter and move on to making three longitudinal slices of each.
- All you need to do now is to hold each sliver into your hand, with the peel of the papaya facing upwards, and slowly cut away the skin in one smooth stroke. Make sure the blade of the knife is faced away from you, and runs about 1½ mm below the skin. This is the best way for peeling a papaya.
- Sometimes, the membranous part has a hard, whitish looking layer on it. You can use the knife in the same way to scrape that layer off as well.
There are literally innumerable enzyme benefits to be reaped. Papain, as the enzyme is called, is a proteolytic which plays a very vital role in the dissolution of certain forms of proteins, and aids peptide digestion. But, there are certain side effects which you must know about before you plan to increase your papain intake, especially if you're pregnant or lactating. Papaya is a good source of minerals like calcium and iron.