If you haven’t had papaya before, and you’ve only just sliced into yours, you may be incredibly confused. Your papaya may be smelling weird, beyond weird, downright nasty. Why is that ?
Why does papaya smell so bad ? Does it always smell bad, like durian ? Is it something you get used to ? Or is it like cilantro, where some love it and some hate it ?
And more importantly, if you hate it, is there anything you can do about that smell ? Let’s take a look.
Why does papaya smell so bad ?
For the most part, papaya smells bad for some people due to papain, an enzyme that is naturally found in papayas. This enzyme breaks down protein, and if left alone long enough, it will also break down the papaya itself. Some people are very sensitive to it, and some people really don’t notice it at all.
The smell of papain may cause some severe reactions in some people, the same way pumpkins may smell like feet for others. Papayas can indeed get a little funky, but it shouldn’t affect it too much in terms of flavor.
Of course, if the taste is off, then it’s definitely clear you need a fix for that. We’ll get to that in a minute, but first let’s talk about papain for a minute, so you understand what’s going on.
Read also: Why Is Papaya Bitter ?
Papain is abundant in under or overripe papayas
Papain is an enzyme that breaks down protein into smaller, more easily digestible molecules. This is also the case for pineapples, and it’s what makes your tongue sting sometimes when eating kiwi.
So, papain. There’s a whole lot of it in underripe papayas, and in overripe papayas. Meaning you should try and only eat perfectly ripe ones. And how do you tell when they’re ripe but not too ripe ?
A ripe, good papaya will be soft like an avocado. If you squeeze it lightly, it should give a little. The flesh inside becomes spongy, like that of a ripe mango.
How to get rid of papaya smell
Alright, what if the papaya is still perfectly ripe and yet doesn’t smell right ? Worse, what if the smell is affecting the taste ? There’s a few things you can do, so don’t worry.
If neither of these works, you’re likely not going to ever get along with papaya fruit. And that’s okay. It’s not for everyone.
Add a dash of lemon or lime juice
The first idea is to squeeze some fresh lime onto freshly cut papaya. The fresh citrus works great to combat and neutralize any weird smells. Even better, it can actually make papaya taste better for those who like their foods a little on the sour side.
If lime isn’t available, or costs a small fortune, try lemon instead. It can be a real lifesaver, and you’ll definitely find lemons year-round.
Mix papaya with sweeter, stronger-tasting fruit
You can also try mixing papaya with other, stronger tasting fruit. Fruit like pineapple, mango, nectarines, peaches, banana, cherries, or passion fruit are great combinations with papaya. If you’re making a smoothie, then some coconut water will make it even more delicious !
but really, mixing papaya with another, stronger fruit will take care of the smell and the possibly weird taste. After all, if the smell is bad, then you may also be uncomfortable with the flavor.
It’s worth noting that not all papayas end up smelling or tasting bad. You may have gotten unlucky with the particular one you bought.
How can you tell if papaya is bad ?
You can tell your papaya’s bad if the texture is very soft, beyond just a little yielding and spongy. If it’s easy to squeeze, then it’s not really good anymore. It may also have very dark spots on the outside skin.
Keep in mind that ripe papaya will turn a little orange, but may not always turn completely orange, despite having the right texture and flavor.
Underripe papaya is hard, the same way an underripe avocado is hard. Meaning you should first touch the papaya to figure out its ripeness, rather than relying on sight.
And if you papaya smells terrible the moment you cut into it, it’s definitely time to throw it away. If you’re unsure and you have friends and family over, ask them for their opinion on the smell. After all, it could be a regular, normal papaya smell that some fine great and some find awful.
Read Also: What Does Cilantro Smell Like ?
Where to get the best papaya
Suppose you want to be sure you’re getting real, sweet papaya. In that case, you should be living or vacationing in Hawaii or Mexico. There are other countries where papaya is grown, but if you’re from America, that’s where your papaya is coming from.
The problem with papaya bought anywhere else is that it’s imported. This means it has to be transported, which means it has to hold up and not break during transport. Ripe papaya is very fragile, and spoils very quickly. So, papayas are picked green and shipped that way.
They ripen during transport a little, and then in your home. Still, it’s a real difference between papaya ripened on the tree and papaya ripened in a brown bag.
Beside, you have a higher chance if finding bitter papaya in the supermarket than in the local market, close to a papaya farm.