Papaya: Main Image

Buying Tips

If papayas are picked completely green and firm, they will usually not ripen, but can be used in cooking. Choose fruit that is free of black spots and damage to the skin. The spreading yellow color indicates the papaya is softening and shows how far along it is in ripening; fruit with a little yellow near the end takes five to seven days to ripen.


There are about 50 varieties of papayas, many of which are inedible and not sold commercially. Some varieties weigh up to 20 pounds (9 kg) while others average 8 ounces (227g). Most common commercial varieties, such as the Hawaiian Solo, are on the small side. Papayas with reddish flesh have a taste that differs from that of the orange-fleshed types, which are sweeter. The babáco, a natural papaya hybrid from Ecuador, is often canned or made into jam, but is also good eaten fresh.

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The information presented in the Food Guide is for informational purposes only and was created by a team of US–registered dietitians and food experts. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements, making dietary changes, or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2024.