Why You Shouldn't Rely On Odor When Picking Out Papaya

If you adore tropical fruits like mango, then papaya should definitely be another fruit to add onto your grocery list. While it's typical to use our sense of smell when shopping for the freshest produce, it isn't always the most effective method — particularly when it comes to picking out papaya. That's why we're sharing some tips to follow when shopping for this juicy, coral-colored fruit.

A large, pear-shaped fruit that's full of intensely peppery (but edible) seeds, Britannica explains that carica papaya is thought to be native to South America. Enjoyed for its deliciousness, but also praised for its medicinal qualities, Healthline states that papayas contain a host of vitamins and antioxidants like carotenoids that can protect cells against damage and reduce risk of various diseases like Alzheimer's, heart disease, and even cancer.

While we tend to gravitate towards riper fruit, less ripe papaya can actually be used in several ways, unlike other unripe fruits and vegetables. Delivering a crispy crunch, green papaya can be especially great when pickled or used in recipes like papaya and jerky salad. In contrast, ripe papaya is often eaten as-is, given its sweet flavors that are comparable to peaches and melons. Rosy in color, ripe papaya also has an ultra-buttery texture. Depending on what type of papaya you're in the market for, there are a few things to remember.

Color is everything

When picking out a papaya, the most obvious indicator of ripeness is color. As papaya ripens, Real Simple reports that its skin turns from a vibrant green to a warm golden yellow. Likewise, riper fruit can also be determined by giving the fruit a gentle press. If the papaya feels slightly soft, then it's ready to devour (via Bon Appétit).

Despite the fact that a ripe papaya is said to have a sweet aroma, not everyone agrees. This is why smell isn't reliable when choosing papaya. But why is this the case? 

According to Martha Stewart, papaya contains an enzyme called papain that breaks down proteins, and releases more foul-smelling molecules, especially for those that are hypersensitive to smells. Likewise, this can also be blamed on the flurry of B-vitamins found in papaya that are linked with pungent aromas. If you're lucky enough not to have any aversions against the papaya's perfumery, definitely don't be intimated to pick one up during your next trip to the market!