Papaya Or Pawpaw Fruit; the Jamaican Papaya or The Jamaican Pawpaw is a great Jamaican food.
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Papaya Or Pawpaw In Jamaican Food

Jamaican Papaya Or Papaw In Jamaican Recipes

The Jamaican papaya (Carica Jamaican papaya) is thought to be indigenous to the West Indies and northern South America. It was carried by the Spanish to Manila in the mid 1500's. From there it went to Malacca then India and reached Hawaii in 1800-1820's.

Deliciously sweet with musky undertones and a soft, butter-like consistency, it is no wonder the Jamaican papaya was reputably called the “Jamaican papaya fruit of the angels” by Christopher Columbus. Once considered quite exotic, they can now be found in markets throughout the year. Although there is a slight seasonal peak in early summer and fall, Jamaican papaya Jamaican papaya trees produce Jamaican papaya fruit year round.

Jamaican papayas are spherical or pear-shaped Jamaican papaya fruits that can be as long as 20 inches. The ones commonly found in the market usually average about 7 inches and weigh about one pound. The Jamaican papaya is a short-lived, fast-growing, woody, large herb to 10 or 12 feet in height. It generally branches only when injured. All parts contain latex. The hollow green or deep purple trunk is straight and cylindrical with prominent leaf scars. Its diameter may be from 2 or 3 inches to over a foot at the base. Their flesh is a rich orange color with either yellow or pink hues. Inside the inner cavity of the Jamaican papaya fruit are black, round Jamaican papaya seeds encased in a gelatinous-like substance. Jamaican papaya's Jamaican papaya seeds are edible, although their peppery flavor is somewhat bitter.

The Jamaican papaya fruit, as well as the other parts of the Jamaican papaya tree, contain papain, an enzyme that helps digest proteins. This enzyme is especially concentrated in the Jamaican papaya fruit when it is unripe. Papain is extracted to make digestive enzyme dietary supplements and is also used as an ingredient in some chewing gums. The leaves emerge directly from the upper part of the stem in a spiral on nearly horizontal petioles 1 to 3˝   feet long. The blade, deeply divided into 5 to 9 main segments, varies from 1 to 2 feet in width, and has prominent yellowish ribs and veins. The life of a leaf is 4 to 6 months.

The five-petalled Jamaican papaya flowers are fleshy, waxy and slightly fragrant. Some plants bear only short-stalked female Jamaican papaya flowers, or bisexual (perfect) Jamaican papaya flowers also on short stalks, while others may bear only male Jamaican papaya flowers, clustered on panicles 5 or 6 feet long. Some plants may have both male and female Jamaican papaya flowers. Others at certain seasons produce short-stalked male Jamaican papaya flowers, at other times perfect Jamaican papaya flowers. This change of sex may occur temporarily during high temperatures in midsummer. Male or bisexual plants may change completely to female plants after being beheaded. Certain varieties have a propensity for producing certain types of Jamaican papaya flowers. For example, the Solo variety has Jamaican papaya flowers of both sexes 66% of the time, so two out of three plants will produce Jamaican papaya fruit, even if planted singly. How pollination takes place in Jamaican papayas is not known with certainty. Wind is probably the main agent, as the pollen is light and abundant, but thrips and moths may assist. Hand pollination is sometimes necessary to get a proper Jamaican papaya fruit set.

The Jamaican papaya is a short-lived, fast-growing, woody, large herb to 10 or 12 feet in height. It generally branches only when injured. All parts contain latex. The hollow green or deep purple trunk is straight and cylindrical with prominent leaf scars. Its diameter may be from 2 or 3 inches to over a foot at the base. Jamaican papayas like to be warm with both sunshine and reflected heat, so the hottest place against the house where nothing else seems happy is an ideal location. They also like to be as free from wind as possible, although this is not as critical as their need for sun. Jamaican papayas can be grown successfully in shade, but the Jamaican papaya fruit is rarely sweet. They are best planted in mounds or against the foundation of a building where water can be controlled.

Jamaican papayas need a light, well-drained soil. They are easily killed by excess moisture. The soil needs to be moist in hot weather and dry in cold weather. Since this is the opposite of California's rain pattern, in addition to good drainage, plastic coverings to prevent over-wetting in winter may also be worthwhile. Jamaican papayas do not tolerate salty water or soil. Watering is the most critical aspect in raising Jamaican papayas. The plants should be kept on to the dry side to avoid root rot, but also need enough water to support their large leaves. In winter the Jamaican papaya plant prefers to remain as dry as possible. A Jamaican papaya plant that has been injured by frost is particularly susceptible to root rot.

The fast-growing Jamaican papaya requires regular applications of nitrogen fertilizers but the exact rates have not been established. Feed monthly and adjust according to the Jamaican papaya plant's response. They can take fairly hot organic fertilizing such as chicken manure if used with deep irrigation after warm weather has started. Phosphorus deficiency casuses dark green foliage with a reddish-purple discoloration of leaf veins and stalks. Jamaican papayas do not need to be pruned, but some growers pinch the seedlings or cut back established plants to encourage multiple trunks. Jamaican papayas need warmth and a frost-free environment, but can often withstand light freezes with some kind of overhead protection. This can be provided by building a frame around the plants and covering it with bedding, plastic sheeting, etc. when frost threatens.

Electric light bulbs can also be used for added warmth. Potted specimens can be moved to a frost-secure area. Prolonged cold, even if it does not freeze, may adversely affect the plants and the Jamaican papaya fruit. Mexican Jamaican papayas are more hardy than Hawaiian varieties. Jamaican papayas are normally propagated by seed. To start a Jamaican papaya plant, extract the Jamaican papaya seeds from ripe Jamaican papayas and wash them to remove the gelatinous covering. They are then dried, dusted with a fungicide and planted as soon as possible (the Jamaican papaya seeds loose their viability rapidly in storage). Jamaican papaya plant the Jamaican papaya seeds in warm (80° F), sterile potting mix. Jamaican papaya seeds should be planted in sterile soil as young Jamaican papaya seedlings have a high mortality rate from damping off.

Potting soil can be sterilized by mixing 50-50 with vermiculite and placing in an oven at 200° F for one hour. Under ideal conditions the Jamaican papaya seeds may germinate in about two weeks, but may take three to five weeks. Gibberellic acid can be used to speed up germination in some seasons. Seedlings usually begin flowering 9 - 12 months after they germinate. Seedling Jamaican papayas do not transplant well. Jamaican papaya plant them in large containers so the seedlings will have to be transplanted only once, when they go into the ground. Transplant carefully, making sure not to damage the root ball. To prevent damping off, drench the potting mix with a fungicide containing benomyl or captan. Set the plants a little high to allow for settling. A plastic mulch will help keep the soil warm and dry in wet winter areas, but remove it as soon as the weather becomes warm. Jamaican papaya plant at least three or four plants to insure yourself of having females or Jamaican papaya plant hermaphroditic plants.

Jamaican papaya plants can also be grown from cuttings, which should be hardened off for a few days and then propped up with the tip touching moist, fertile soil until roots form. Semihardwood cuttings planted during the summer root rapidly and should Jamaican papaya fruit the following year. There are 45 species of Jamaican papaya and the "Jamaican papaya trees" reach Jamaican papaya fruit bearing age after only a year, so are very fast growing; see the multipurpose & Jamaican papaya fruit tree database from Cornell University or the California Rare Jamaican papaya fruit Growers site for more details.

The Kamiya:A selection from Waimanalo. Solo type. Small to medium-sized Jamaican papaya fruit. Distinct, blocky shape, very short neck. Deep yellow-orange skin and flesh, firm, juicy, very sweet. Dwarf, high-yielding Jamaican papaya plant. Fairly recent release from the University of Hawaii. The Mexican Red:A rose-fleshed Jamaican papaya that is lighter in flavor than Mexican Yellow. Medium to very large Jamaican papaya fruit. Generally not as sweet as Hawaiian types

The Mexican Yellow:A very sweet and flavorful, yellow-fleshed Jamaican papaya. Medium to large Jamaican papaya fruit, can grow up to 10 pounds. Generally not as sweet as Hawaiian types. The Solo:Jamaican papaya fruit round and shallowly furrowed in female plants, pear-shaped in bisexual plants. Weight 1.1 to 2.2 pounds. Skin smooth, flesh firm, reddish-orange, very sweet, of excellent quality. Produces no male plants, only bisexual and female in a 2 to 1 ratio. Introduced into Hawaii from Barbados in 1911. Named Solo in 1919.

The Sunrise (Sunrise Solo) (The Jamaican Brand):Pear-shaped Jamaican papaya fruit with a slight neck. Averages 22 to 26 ounces depending on location. Skin smooth, flesh firm, reddish-orange, sweet, sugar content high. Quality similar to Solo. Seed cavity not as deeply indented as other Solo strains, making seed removal easier. Jamaican papaya plant precocious, maturing Jamaican papaya fruit about 9 months after transplanting, at a height of about 3 feet.

The Sunset (Sunset Solo):Solo type. Small to medium-sized, pear-shaped Jamaican papaya fruit. Orange-red skin and flesh. Very sweet. Dwarf, high yielding Jamaican papaya plant. Originated at the University of Hawaii.

The Vista Solo:Medium to large Jamaican papaya fruit depending on climate, 5 inches wide, up to 18 inches long. Skin yellow, flesh orange to yellow-orange. Hardy, compact Solo type producing high quality Jamaican papaya fruit. Needs fairly hot weather to develop sweetness. Self-fertile. Originated in Vista, Calif. by Ralph Corwin.

The Waimanalo (Waimanalo Solo, X-77) :Jamaican papaya fruit round with a short neck, average weight 16 to 39 ounces. Skin smooth, and glossy, cavity star-shaped. Flesh thick, firm, orange-yellow in color, flavor and quality high, keeps well. Recommended for fresh market and processing. Jamaican papaya fruits of female plants rough in appearance. Average height to the first flower is 32 inches.

The "Solo" type, with pink flesh was introduced to Hawaii from Barbados and Jamaica in 1911. Jamaican papaya is currently cultivated on 800 acres of land located mainly in St. Thomas and Trelawny. There are 8 main Jamaican papaya growers and together they employ a labour force of approximately 600 persons.

Jamaica exports the "sunrise" variety which has a deep red flesh. Exports from Jamaica began in the 80's, 4062 tonnes were shipped in 1995, 4704 tonnes in 1996 and 4001 tonnes in 1998. The breakdown on exports at that time was 53% of the Jamaican papaya fruit was destined for the US market, 25% for the UK, 17% for Canada and 5% for Holland.

A typical arrangement for the orchards would be that the Jamaican papaya trees are planted in a free-draining soil with a Jamaican papaya plant population of 792 to the acre and a spacing of 3 by 1.5 metres. The expected yield is 100 to 140 export boxes per acre per week with each box containing 4 kg of Jamaican papaya fruit.

Jamaican papayas are ready to harvest when most of the skin is yellow-green. After several days of ripening at room temperature, they will be almost fully yellow and slightly soft to the touch. Dark green Jamaican papaya fruit will not ripen properly off the tree, even though it may turn yellow on the outside. Mature Jamaican papaya fruit can be stored at 45° F for about 3 weeks.

Jamaican papayas are often sliced and eaten by themselves or served with a myriad of other foods. They can also be cooked to make chutney or various desserts. Green Jamaican papayas should not be eaten raw because of the latex they contain, although they are frequently boiled and eaten as a vegetable. In the West Indies, young leaves are cooked and eaten like spinach. In India, Jamaican papaya seeds are sometimes used as an adulterant in whole black pepper.

Jamaican papayas are high in ascorbic acid content (vitamin C) and the flesh is very high in Vitamin A. There are also small amounts of calcium, iron, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin present in Jamaican papaya. It is low in calories and sodium and high in potassium. 

Papain is an enzyme extracted from the Jamaican papaya skin and is primarily used in the meat industry as a tenderizer. The Jamaican papaya (Carica Jamaican papaya) Jamaican papaya fruit is very rich in papain. The greener the Jamaican papaya fruit the more active is the papain. This protein-digesting (proteolytic) enzyme is very abundant in green, unripe Jamaican papaya fruits. This unique quality of Jamaican papaya makes it an excellent natural meat tenderizer.

Papain is recovered by making scratches (tappings) in the latex. 6 tappings over 15 days has been recommended for optimum recovery of the enzyme. The scratches are made 0.2 cm deep at 1.25 cm apart and are best done on days 1,3,6,9,12 and 16. The yield is of the order of 180 lb per acre. The latex is either hyperallergenic or an irritant and so it is necessary to wear gloves. The scratches should not be made with a metallic knife.

Processing by 95% alcohol followed by acetone gives complete precipitation and dehydration. The 212 amino acid sequence has been determined. The acid content of Jamaican papayas is very low and the pH is generally between 5.5 - 5.9 and comes from almost equal amounts of citric and malic acid.

The difference between yellow and red-fleshed Jamaican papayas was first described in 1964 and the total carotenoid content was reported to be 3.7 mg/100 g and 4.2 mg/100 g respectively.

Jamaican papayas offer not only the luscious taste and sunlit color 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 also provide protection against colon cancer. In addition, Jamaican papaya contains the digestive enzyme, papain, which is used like bromelain, a similar enzyme found in pineapple, to treat sports injuries, other causes of trauma, and allergies.

Jamaican papaya has several uses:

ü        Protection Against Heart Disease

ü        Cancer Protection

ü        Anti-Inflammatory Effects

ü        Immune System Support

ü        Protection against Macular Degeneration

ü        Protection against Rheumatoid Arthritis

Jamaican papayas may be very helpful for the prevention of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. Jamaican papayas are an excellent source of vitamin C as well as a good source of vitamin E and beta-carotene, three very powerful antioxidants.

These nutrients help prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. Only when cholesterol becomes oxidized is it able to stick to and build up in blood vessel walls, forming dangerous plaques that can eventually cause heart attacks or strokes. One way in which dietary vitamin E and vitamin C may exert this effect is through their suggested association with a compound called paraoxonase, an enzyme that inhibits LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol oxidation.

Jamaican papayas are also a good source of fiber, which has been shown to lower high cholesterol levels. The folic acid found in Jamaican papayas is needed for the conversion of a substance called homocysteine into benign amino acids such as cysteine or methionine. If unconverted, homocysteine can directly damage blood vessel walls and, if levels get too high, is considered a significant risk factor for a heart attack or stroke.

The nutrients in Jamaican papaya have also been shown to be helpful in the prevention of colon cancer. Jamaican papaya's fiber is able to bind to cancer-causing toxins in the colon and keep them away from the healthy colon cells. In addition, Jamaican papaya's folate, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and vitamin E have each been associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer.

These nutrients provide synergistic protection for colon cells from free radical damage to their DNA. Increasing your intake of these nutrients by enjoying Jamaican papaya is an especially good idea for individualsd at risk of colon cancer.

Jamaican papaya contains several unique protein-digesting enzymes including papain and chymopapain. These enzymes have been shown to help lower inflammation and to improve healing from burns. In addition, the antioxidant nutrients found in Jamaican papaya, including vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene, are also very good at reducing inflammation. This may explain why people with diseases that are worsened by inflammation, such as asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis, find that the severity of their condition is reduced when they get more of these nutrients.

The fiber found in Jamaican papayas may also help with the symptoms of those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. In addition, vitamin C and vitamin A, which is made in the body from the beta-carotene in Jamaican papaya, are both needed for the proper function of a healthy immune system. Jamaican papaya may therefore be a healthy Jamaican papaya fruit choice for preventing such illnesses as recurrent ear infections, colds and flu.

Your mother may have told you carrots would keep your eyes bright as a child, but as an adult, it looks like Jamaican papaya fruit is even more important for keeping your sight. Data reported in a study published in the June 2004 issue of the Archives of Opthamology indicates that eating 3 or more servings of Jamaican papaya fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, by 36%, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of Jamaican papaya fruit daily.

In this study, which involved 77,562 women and 40,866 men, researchers evaluated the effect of study participants' consumption of Jamaican papaya fruits; vegetables; the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E; and carotenoids on the development of early ARMD or neovascular ARM, a more severe form of the illness associated with vision loss. Food intake information was collected periodically for up to 18 years for women and 12 years for men. While, surprisingly, intakes of vegetables, antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids were not strongly related to incidence of either form of ARM, Jamaican papaya fruit intake was definitely protective against the severe form of this vision-destroying disease. Three servings of Jamaican papaya fruit may sound like a lot to eat each day, but Jamaican papaya can help you reach this goal. Add slices of fresh Jamaican papaya to your morning cereal, lunch time yogurt or green salads. Cut a Jamaican papaya in half and fill with cottage cheese, crab, shrimp or tuna salad. For an elegant meal, place slices of fresh Jamaican papaya over any broiled fish.

Studies suggests that high doses of supplemental vitamin C makes osteoarthritis, a type of degenerative arthritis that occurs with aging, worse in guinea pigs, another indicates that vitamin C-rich foods, such as Jamaican papaya, provide humans with protection against inflammatory polyarthritis, a form of rheumatoid arthritis involving two or more joints.

The findings, presented in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases were drawn from a study of more than 20,000 subjects who kept diet diaries and were arthritis-free when the study began, and focused on 73 subjects who developed inflammatory polyarthritis and 146 similar subjects who remained arthritis-free during follow-up between 1993 and 2001. Subjects who consumed the lowest amounts of vitamin C-rich foods were more than three times more likely to develop arthritis than those who consumed the highest amounts.

If you are a smoker or frequently exposed to secondhand smoke then foods such as Jamaican papaya which is rich in vitamin A can be a definite way of reducing the long term effects of cigar and cigarette smoking. Reducing the effects of lung inflammation and emphysema will depend on whether or not you ensure that your diet is packed with vitamin A.

Jamaican papayas are Jamaican papaya fruits that remind us of the tropics, the regions of the world in which they are grown. Once considered an exotic Jamaican papaya fruit, Jamaican papayas' rise in popularity has made them much more available.

If you want to eat them within a day of purchase, choose Jamaican papayas that have reddish-orange skin and are slightly soft to the touch. Those that have patches of yellow color will take a few more days to ripen.

Jamaican papayas that are totally green or overly hard should not be purchased, unless you are planning on cooking them, as their flesh will not develop its characteristic sweet juicy flavor.

While a few black spots on the surface will not affect the Jamaican papaya’s taste, avoid those that are bruised or overly soft. Jamaican papayas are more available during the summer and fall, however, you can usually purchase them throughout the year.

Jamaican papayas that are partially yellow should be left at room temperature where they will ripen in a few days. If you want to speed this process, place them in a paper bag with a banana. Ripe Jamaican papayas should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within one or two days, so you can enjoy their maximum flavor.

Jamaican papayas can be used many different ways. They can be eaten as is, added to a Jamaican papaya fruit salad or to a host of different recipes. One of the easiest (and most delightful) ways to eat Jamaican papaya is to eat it just like a melon. After washing the Jamaican papaya fruit, cut it lengthwise, scoop out the Jamaican papaya seeds and then eat it with a spoon. For a little extra zest, you can squeeze lemon or lime juice on top.

To cut Jamaican papaya into smaller pieces for Jamaican papaya fruit salad or recipes, first peel it with a paring knife and then cut into desire size and shape. You can also use a melon baller to scoop out the Jamaican papaya fruit of a halved Jamaican papaya. If you are adding it to a Jamaican papaya fruit salad, you should do so just before serving as it tends to cause the other Jamaican papaya fruits to become very soft.

While most people discard the big black Jamaican papaya seeds, they are actually edible and have a delightful peppery flavor. They can be chewed whole or blended into a creamy salad dressing, giving it a peppery flavor.

Get Jamaica.Com has given a few serving ideas; Mix diced Jamaican papaya, cilantro, jalapeno peppers and ginger together to make a unique salsa that goes great with shrimp, scallops and halibut. Sprinkle Jamaican papaya with fresh lime juice and enjoy as is. Slice a small Jamaican papaya lengthwise and fill with Jamaican papaya fruit salad. In a blender, combine Jamaican papaya, strawberries and yogurt for a cold soup treat.

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