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Costa Rica is famous for many things, including its beautiful beaches, exotic wildlife and delicious tropical fruits. One fruit which is particularly popular in this Central American country is the papaya. This sweet and succulent fruit is grown throughout the country and plays a vital role in Costa Rican cuisine and culture.

Papaya plants, also known by the scientific name Carica papaya,, are native to the tropics of the Americas, and were first cultivated by indigenous peoples thousands of years ago. Today, Costa Rica is one of the world’s largest producers of papayas, with the fruit being grown on farms and plantations across the country. The warm, humid climate of the country’s coastal regions is ideal for growing papayas, which require plenty of sunlight and water to thrive.

The papaya plant is a small, fast-growing tree that can reach heights of up to 30 feet. Its leaves are large and deeply lobed, while its flowers are small and yellow or pink in color. The fruit itself is oval-shaped, with a green or yellow exterior and a sweet, orange flesh inside. The seeds of the papaya are also edible, and are often used to make a spicy condiment called aji de papaya.

Papayas are a key ingredient in many traditional Costa Rican dishes, including ceviche, ensalada rusa and casados. They are also a popular snack, and can be eaten fresh or dried, or made into jams and jellies. 

The fruit is thought to have many superfood health benefits, including aiding digestion, boosting the immune system and reducing inflammation.

Despite the popularity of the papaya plant in Costa Rica, there have been challenges to its cultivation in recent years. In particular, the country has seen outbreaks of a disease called papaya ringspot virus, which can devastate papaya crops. However, farmers and scientists are working hard to find ways to combat this disease and keep the papaya industry thriving for many years to come.

Check out these 13 Best Papaya Recipes from NDTV Food.

FEATURED RECIPES

Roasted Papaya

Carolyn Moorehead

Ingredients

2 tablespoons light-brown sugar

1/4  teaspoon ground ginger

2 medium Solo papayas (14 ounces each), halved lengthwise and seeded

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 lime, cut into 4 wedges

Directions

Preheat oven and combine sugar and ginger:

Preheat oven to 450°F. Stir together sugar and ginger in a small bowl.

Prepare papaya halves:

Arrange papaya halves, cut sides up, in a 10-by-13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle sugar mixture evenly over halves.

Bake papaya:

Bake the papaya, brushing the edges with melted sugar mixture (it will collect in well of fruit) 2 or 3 times, until mixture is bubbling and papaya edges are beginning to darken, 35 to 40 minutes.

Top with cayenne and serve with lime:

Sprinkle each serving with a pinch of cayenne. Serve with lime wedges

 

Sous Vide Papaya Flat Iron Steak

by James Huesmann

Cut a large papaya in half along the long axis of the fruit

Remove the pulp – use it for your other recipes!

Trim the flat iron steak so that it fits inside the half papaya’s skin

Place the other half papaya skin over the steak – think “meat-stuffed papaya”

Place steak with papaya layer in a plastic bag for sous vide, remove air

Set in refrigerator for 4-5 hours

Remove bag, place in sous vide container for 2 hours at 135F/57C

Remove steak, discard papaya skin, and sear steak on a parrillada or in a fry pan

Remove, slice in thin (1/4 to 1/2 inch slices), and serve

The combination of the papaya skin and the sous vide cooking method makes even the tough cuts of beef tender.

 

Roasted papaya with brown sugar

by Lisa Burnham

Split the long way just like squash
Top with brown sugar and powdered ginger
Baste during cooking
Bake as you would squash
Can be a dessert or a side

Touch of Lime

Jennifer LaCharite

Not a recipe per se but I cut mine and squeeze lime juice on it and it’s the ONLY way to eat it fresh imo. The flavours are very complimentary.

 

Peppercorn

Leah Pilcher

Anyone else make “pepper” out of their papaya seeds?

I just toss them in the air fryer on low for an hour or so and then blend them up.

I try to be careful scraping them out of the fruit so as not to get too much fruit fibers but I just give em a quick rinse and toast em up.

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