The traditional variety papaya is sweeter than the Disco variety though its looks are not pleasing, when ripe
In my school days we used to eat fruits because it was something you ate, just like chappatis with vegetable or rice with dal. Over the years, in the last few years, people relish a particular kind of fruits because it contains certain kind of minerals or do it because it is fashionable. Like paying Rs 1000 for a dozen of alphonsoes!
We no more seem to be enjoying what we do especially when it comes to what we put in our mouth. Worried about calories and all that. As we have become more conscious of looks and presentation we do shun certain kind of fruit because they don’t pleasing to us unaware of its contents and its properties. Did you know the ripe papaya, popularly known as Disco Papaya or Taiwan Red Lady though its scientific name is Taiwan 786, which you generally pick up from your fruit vendor is rich in sugar. This hybrid variety has a pleasing look—rich orange all over. Sadly, the local variety, which when ripe is unpleasant to look at with blotches of green and orange all over! It’s unseemly exterior keeps you away from it while you settle for the “Disco” variety. Once you peel the flesh it look no way different from others. While the hybrid variety is almost seedless the traditional variety is full of seeds.
I have two papaya trees which gives me the traditional variety fruit. I mostly eat the green ones, which contains pappain, an enzyme that helps digest proteins. This enzyme is especially concentrated in the fruit when it is unripe. When you cut a raw papaya you will come across droplets of water resembling sweat on the exposed fruit. That is papain!
This Sunday I had a ripe papaya and it was really sweet unlike the bland sweetness of the hybrid variety which I have been eating all these years. My two papaya trees are fruit laden and am sure they will last me a month—one a day. Now I know why Columbus called papaya the “fruit of the angels”.
Papayas offer not only the luscious taste and sunlit colour of the tropics, but are rich sources of antioxidant nutrients such as carotenes, vitamin C and flavonoids; the B vitamins, folate and pantothenic acid; and the minerals, potassium and magnesium; and fiber. Together, these nutrients promote the health of the cardiovascular system and provides protection against colon cancer.
I plan to let some papayas to ripe on the tree itself so that I can use its seeds latter. If any reader wants to grow papayas you know whom to approach.