[ed: Apologies to Deb for the late posting of today’s blog…things are a little crazy here!]

There are two varieties of papaya: the most common being the Hawaiian papaya which weighs about a pound; and the less common Mexican Papaya, which can weigh up to 15 pounds. The papaya is considered to be one of the healthiest fruits to eat and to some the most nutritious fruit of all.

Frida Kahlo paid homage to the papaya in her painting Coconut Tears.

In 1992, a Washington-based consumer group that studies nutrition compared forty fruits for their overall healthfulness. Based on a point system awarded to each fruit for the RDA percentage of the nine individual vitamins plus estimations for potassium and fiber, the papaya weighed in at number one (followed by cantaloupe, strawberries, oranges, and tangerines).

Papaya is rich in an enzyme called papain, a protease useful in tenderizing meat and other proteins, and it has been used for this purpose for thousands of years in its native South America. No doubt due to this enzyme, the papaya is high in digestive properties and has a direct tonic effect on the stomach. It is used in the treatment of stomach ulcers and fevers, and has a high mucus solvent action. Papain is also marketed in tablet form to remedy digestive problems – and other things, such as allergic reactions.

I’m giving papain tablets to my son to help decrease the mucous membrane inflammation caused by his reaction to cat hair, and they really seem to help.

The black seeds are edible as well, with a sharp, spicy taste – they can be ground up and used as a substitute for black pepper.

When I was in Brazil in 1987, papayas were everywhere – and they were enormous! I remember people recommending that I eat papaya to ease stomach reactions to the unaccustomed food and water. Better than this, though, were Papaya Liquados (liquados are essentially fruit smoothies sold at stalls, and they make them with everything that grows, including avocadoes – which are also enormous in Brazil)!

Here is a delicious recipe for Papaya Salsa, which I am presenting to you today in the hopes that summer gets the hint…

This Caribbean-inspired salsa combining black beans and papaya is great with grilled fish. It is also very good by itself, as a spicy summer-salad-type course.

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked or canned black beans
2 ripe papayas, peeled, seeded and diced small
1/2 red bell pepper, diced small
1/2 green bell pepper, diced small
1/2 red onion, diced small
3/4 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup lime juice (about 4 limes)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 Tablespoons ground cumin
1 Tablespoon minced red or green chile pepper of your choice
Salt
Fresh cracked black pepper

Method:

In a large mixing bowl, combine black beans, papaya, bell peppers, red onion, pineapple  juice, lime  juice, cilantro, cumin, chile pepper, salt, and pepper. Mix together well. This salsa will keep, covered and refrigerated, 4 to 5 days.

~Deb

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