With a deliciously sweet interior and limited growing environments, papayas aren't exactly cheap to come by. Post-harvest spoilage is particularly prevalent in these frail, thin-skinned fruits, which sometimes travel from distant tropical zones before reaching consumers. Despite this concern, modern technology makes it possible to safely store papaya at home using a variety of different methods.
The Best Way to Store Papayas
Understanding the best way to store papaya is a double-tiered job. On the one hand, it involves a basic consideration of the fruit's ripeness at the time of purchase.
Fresh, raw papayas with just a bit of yellow coloring are those that, while already mature, require several more days of ripening at room temperature. Keeping these partially-ripe, yellow papaya fruits refrigerated at - 55°F (10 - 12.7°C) and with 85% humidity can prolong their self life for a period of two to three weeks before being returned to room temperature. Anything colder than that might result in the fruits not ripening at all.
Meanwhile, a temperature of about 34 - 37°F (1.1 - 2.7°C) is optimal for a thoroughly-ripe papaya that has achieved at least 75% of its full color. They can be kept for up to one week this way, though low temperatures make them susceptible to chill injury.
Storing papayas unwashed will help to prevent incidences of moldy, water-soaked fruits.
How to Store an Open Papaya
How to preserve papaya fruit that has already been cut can be tricky. Some grocery stores actually sell papaya this way, so it is important to check that the cut papaya is carefully packaged and produces no fermented odor.
Unlike with some other fruits, oxidation does not affect the color of a papaya's flesh; however, its quality will rapidly degenerate upon opening. Because papaya's skin is prone to bacterial rot, the best way of preserving it is to scoop out cubes and store them in airtight containers in the refrigerator.
Moreover, an overripe papaya can be blended into a fruity puree, frozen for safekeeping, and later used to create delicious tropical smoothies, ice creams, sauces, baked goods, and yogurts.
Other Ways to Store Papaya
This is a versatile fruit that lends itself to a number of papaya food products. Besides simply freezing or refrigerating, a more eccentric way to store papaya is to whip it into a batch of grandma-inspired fruit preserves. Made with simple ingredients, such as ripe papayas, water, sugar, lemon juice, and other seasonings, papaya marmalade can be used on toasts and baked goods. It can also be frozen in an airtight mason jars for up to a year.
The shelf life of papayas can likewise be preserved in pickled papaya recipes using a brine solution of vinegar, sugar, and salt. Other desirable ingredients include carrots, zucchinis, onions, and cucumbers.
Determining how to store papaya is about good timing and forethought. While varying degrees of refrigeration have proven extremely useful in prolonging the shelf life of fresh samples, choosing the right fruit according to its color, maturity, and intended use is the best approach when it comes to storing papaya.
- Acta Horticulturae, Effect of storage temperatures on the quality and shelf life of papaya, 2010
- Global Cold Chain Alliance, Papaya, Storage conditions
- Oregon State University, Storing food for safety and quality
- University of Hawaii, Papaya, General crop information | Papaya: Postharvest quality-maintenance guidelines
- University of Wyoming, Papaya power!