Posted on Tuesday, April 05, 2016
Papaya, a native to the tropics, non-seasonal producer and prolific plant of the Garden, was a perfect fruit focus for our last Garden to Table Culinary Program. Students created some traditional and non-traditional dishes using this highly nutritious and eye catching fruit.
Papayas look like a small tree but are actually a large herbaceous plant with a hollow trunk. Growing between 16 to 23 feet, you may need a ladder to harvest this deliciously sweet fruit with musky undertones and butter like consistency. Called the “fruit of the angels” by Christopher Columbus, Spanish and Portuguese explorers brought papayas to many lands including India, the Philippines and parts of Africa. Hawaii has been the major U.S. producer since the 1920s, and today the largest commercial producers include the U.S., Mexico and Puerto Rico.
Papayas nutritional benefits seem to know no bounds! They contain 224% of your daily value of Vitamin C, high amounts of folate, fiber, vitamin A, magnesium, potassium, copper and pantothenic acid. These nutrients and minerals promote the health of the cardiovascular system, digestive system and anti-inflammatory effects. They help protect against heart disease, macular degeneration and rheumatoid arthritis.
The Adult and High school LWTC Culinary Students both learned how to harvest papaya and cook with both the green (un-ripe) and orange (ripe) fruits. Students learned that the black seeds of a ripe papaya are edible and have a mustardy flavor; they created beverages and used the seeds as garnish. Some of the weird and wonderful dishes the students made included: spicy papaya guacamole, mango papaya salsa, Tropical Quinoa, Fried Papaya, Green Papaya Coleslaw and Papaya Soup! Try Papaya at home today!