The fruit and vegetable lexicon
Papaya - Exotic Fruits
DescriptionAlso known as Papaw or Pawpaw, the Papaya is the edible fruit of the Carica Papaya tree.
OriginsCarica Papaya is a Mexican tree. In pre-Columbian times, the peoples of the Caribbean consumed the green fruit to fight against gastrointestinal disorders. They also used it to soften meats like the octopus meat.
CharacteristicsThis fruit is an ovoid or rounded berry, 20 to 30 cm long, weighing from 1 to 5 kg. The green fruit turns yellow when ripe. The epidermis, a few millimetres thick, is smooth and fragile. The cross-section shows an orange to red pulp, surrounding a central cavity filled with spherical, inedible, grey or black seeds. Among the many existing varieties, the most widespread on the European market are eight, the Sunrise and the Golden for small-fruit varieties from 300 to 700 g. Formosa is a larger variety of fruit whose weight can be more than 1 kilo. It is generally consumed fresh, but can be used for the extraction of a highly demanded proteolytic enzyme, papain. When incised, the skin of the green papaya actually leaves a white liquid that coagulates quickly. The digestive and solvent action of the proteins that characterize papain is used therapeutically, in the leather, wool, silk, brewery and food and pharmaceutical industries. Despite the numerous transgenesis works carried out to reach almost perfect varieties, it is the wild-type varieties that produces the most tasty orange pulp fruits.
Other factsThe regular consumption of papaya still retains an ethnic character.
ProductionPapaya is always a fruit of intense commercialization. Annual world production is currently estimated at 15 million tons and is concentrated in Asia at 51 per cent, in the Americas at 39 per cent and in Africa at 10 per cent. Local consumption remains the main market for production, while world exports, amounting to some 400,000 tons, are mainly directed by Latin American countries. Mexico is the world’s largest exporter of this fruit. But it is India that comes at the head of the papaya-producing countries with a harvest of 5.9 million tons. This country is followed by Brazil with 1.5 Mt and Malaysia with 1.3 Mt.
Seasonality of the product