The papaya is a tropical fruit that is healthy and sweet, but knowing how to tell if one is ripe can be challenging.
Step 1: Observe the papaya's color Look at the color of the papaya. Papayas are picked when they are still green and hard to minimize potential bruising during shipping. Buy a papaya when it is half green and half yellow. It will further ripen at home at room temperature and will be ready to eat when it is predominantly yellow.
TIP: Papayas will ripen more quickly when put in a paper bag with ethylene-producing fruits, such as apples or bananas.
Step 2: Note the stem end Examine the end where the stalk was. The papaya will ripen well if there is a yellow ring, but if the ring is green, it won't ripen.
Step 3: Examine the papaya's skin Examine the papaya's skin. Wrinkled skin will not affect the taste of the papaya, but sunken areas or bruises indicate rough handling during transit.
Step 4: Press the papaya Press on the papaya with your fingers. A ripe papaya should be soft and retain slight indentations, but a papaya that isn't ripe will be hard. If it is too soft and mushy, it's overripe.
Step 5: Smell the papaya Smell the papaya. A ripe papaya will smell faintly sweet. If the papaya has no scent, it isn't ripe yet. But if it has a strong, sweet odor, it's overripe.
FACT: Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. to commercially produce papayas.