¡Qué Rico! Papaya: The (Refreshing) Fruit of the Angels

¡Qué Rico! Papaya: The (Refreshing) Fruit of the Angels

Let's discover the sweetness of summer in cold, tasty papaya-flavored drinks!

We’re this close to the sweet heat of summer, so of course I have refreshment on the mind. Sweet, sweet refreshment.

Allow me to digress for a moment. One of the great things about being Latina in the U.S. is our incredibly varied backgrounds: We’re rooted in different countries with different traditions – a smorgasbord of flavors, celebrations and festivities.

But I think we can all agree on at least one thing: papaya. Papayaaaaa! (Imagine yelling that like a warrior yells, “This is Spartaaaaa!” That’s how I feel about this delicious fruit.)

Rich in fiber, vitamin C & A, folate, magnesium, potassium and blah blah blah – look, papaya is bliss. Sure, it’s a healthy superfood, but let’s be serious: We’re here for the flavor. There’s a reason Columbus called papaya the “fruit of the angels.” Musky, sweet and delicate, it’s as smooth as butter. Ripe, it perfumes the whole house. And it tastes like heaven wrapped in angel wings.

Why Papaya?

I’m not the only one obsessed. Papaya graced our ancestors’ tables many generations ago. Thought to have originated on the Caribbean coast of Central America, this fruit has been cultivated since at least the 1400s. The Spanish conquistadors fell in love, and took it to the Caribbean islands, then to the Pacific Islands and then to Asia. Papaya went global.

So this summer, bring your Latino roots to the table with papaya. But first, a tip: Go ripe! Unless you’re specifically preparing a recipe that calls for papaya verde, unripe papaya is not your friend. It’s hard (to the point of crunchy), and doesn’t have that sweet-musk flavor going for it. Evaluate each fruit for ripeness by checking the color (ripe = streaked with red, orange or yellow, and sometimes sporting brown freckles), feel (ripe = slightly soft, but not mushy), and smell (ripe = smells slightly musky, even with the peel).

Here are a few refreshing recipes to get you started:

Guilt-free: Batido de Papaya en Agua (aka Agua Fresca De Papaya)


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2 cups papayas, seeded, peeled, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons sugar or other sweetener
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 3⁄4 cups water

Blend all ingredients in a blender until very smooth, and then run the smoothie through a cheesecloth (or other fine strainer) to remove pulp. Serve over ice.

Occasional Indulgence: Batido de Papaya en Leche

2 medium papayas, seeded, peeled, cut into large chunks
2 or 3 cups of milk
Sugar, to taste
Ice, to preference

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Thin out by adding milk, to your desired consistency. Enjoy!

Devil Mode: Papaya Milkshake

1 cup ripe papaya, pre-frozen
1 cup ice-cold milk
2 scoops of vanilla ice cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Sugar, to taste
Handful of ice

Place all ingredients into a strong blender and blend to a silky-smooth consistency. Enjoy!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy summer’s special fruit?

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