How to Buy a Ripe Papaya

Two Parts:Choosing a Ripe PapayaStoring Papaya

Papayas taste best right off the tree, but most of us don't have that opportunity. Learn how to find ripe store-bought fruit instead to give yourself a taste of the tropics. If you can only find green papayas, you can ripen them at home within a few days.

Part 1
Choosing a Ripe Papaya

  1. Image titled Buy a Ripe Papaya Step 1
    Check the color. The skin of a ripe papaya ranges from yellow to orange-red. A few green spots are fine, especially since the papaya will ripen rapidly at home.[1]
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    Press the skin. Press the papaya gently with your fingertips. If the fruit is ripe, your fingers should sink slightly into it, similar to a ripe avocado.[2] A hard papaya is not ripe. A papaya with mushy spots or shriveled areas is overripe,
    • Avoid papayas with soft flesh near the stem end.[3]
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    Check the base for mold. Look at the base of the papaya, where the stem was attached. If you see any mold or mildew, do not buy this papaya.[4]
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    Smell the base. Look for a papaya that has a faint, sweet scent near the stem.[5] Avoid papayas with no smell, which are unripe. Avoid papayas with an unpleasant or strong smell, which may be old or fermented.[6]

Part 2
Storing Papaya

  1. Image titled Buy a Ripe Papaya Step 5
    Store ripe papayas in the refrigerator. Keep ripe papayas in the refrigerator to slow further ripening. While they may last up to a week, they are tastiest when eaten within a day or two.[7]
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    Store unripe papayas at room temperature. If your papayas are a little green, finish ripening them at room temperature. They should ripen within a few days. Here are two ways to speed it up and avoid mushy spots:[8]
    • Leave them on a flat surface, with space in between fruits. Keep out of direct sun. Rotate occasionally.
    • Keep them in a paper bag in a cool, dark location. Optionally, add a banana, apple, or avocado to hasten ripening.
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    Ripen completely green papayas. A completely green papaya may not ripen off the tree. But if you have no other options, you can give it a try. Score your green papaya with a sharp knife, drawing three lines from tip to tip.[9] Make sure the knife penetrates the skin and lightly scores the flesh underneath. Leave at room temperature to ripen within a few days.
    • Alternatively, use your green papaya for recipes such as green papaya salad.
  4. Image titled Buy a Ripe Papaya Step 8
    Freeze papaya. If you have more papaya than you know what to do with, freeze the extras. Follow this method exactly to minimize mushiness and flavor loss:[10]
    • Peel a ripe papaya. Chop off and discard the stem end.
    • Cut in half and remove seeds.
    • Slice the papaya and space them out on a baking sheet. Freeze for an hour or two.
    • Transfer frozen slices to a sealed container and return to freezer.
    • Alternatively, puree the papaya, freeze the liquid in ice cube trays, and transfer to larger container.


  • There are several common varieties of papaya. Sunrise or Strawberry papayas can be eaten before they fully ripen. Solo papayas may not taste good until completely ripe. The enormous Mexican varieties (such as Maradol) may take longer to ripen, and have a significantly different flavor.[11]


  • Unripe papayas may be unsafe for pregnant women.[12]

Article Info

Categories: Food Selection and Storage