See also: Article on Papaya; Kitchen Tips
The exact origination of papaya is unknown but it is believed to be native to southern Mexico and neighboring Central America. The papaya is a melon like fruit with yellow-orange flesh enclosed in a thin skin that varies in color from green to orange to rose.
CDC.gov - 5 a Day
The papaya tree can grow from seed to a 20 foot, fruit bearing tree in less than 18 months. The fruit can range in size from 1 to 20 pounds.
The white powder sold as "Meat Tenderizer" is composed mainly of an enzyme extract from the papaya, called papain, usually with added salt, sugar and anticaking agents. The enzyme papain, breaks down tough meat fibers. Papaya juice has been used for centuries in South America to tenderize meat.
Varieties - There are two types of papayas, the Hawaiian and Mexican.
The Hawaiian varieties also known as Solo papayas, are found most often in supermarkets. These fruits are pear shaped, weigh about a pound each, and have yellow skin when ripe. The flesh is bright orange or pinkish, depending on the variety.
The Mexican varieties are not as common but can be found in Latino supermarkets. Mexican papayas are much larger then the Hawaiian types and can weigh up to 20 pounds and be more than 15 inches long. Although the flavor is less intense than the Hawaiian varieties, they are still delicious and enjoyable.
CDC.gov - 5 a Day
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