Papayas (Carica papaya, USDA hardiness zones 10 to 12) are a tropical treat that's delicious served as a whole fruit or cut into wedges, slices and cubes. Whether you grow your own or buy it from the grocery store, understanding how to tell if papaya is ripe will make the fruit even more enjoyable.
Green papaya will ripen on their own when left at room temperature, but the process can take days. The best papayas are sweet and firm to the touch, with a slightly sticky texture. The skin should also be a beautiful orange or yellow color and free from bruises and bad spots.
One of the best ways to test a papaya's ripeness is by smelling it. The papaya should have a faint, sweet smell when it's ripe. If the papaya has no scent or a strong, unpleasant odor, it's unripe or overripe and should be avoided.
You can also test a papaya's
ripeness by placing it on a flat surface, such as a countertop or table. If the papaya gives a little when you press on it with your thumb, it's ready to eat. Avoid a papaya that feels too soft, as it could be overripe and may start to ferment.
If you have a papaya that needs to be eaten soon, try scoring the outside of the fruit with a sharp paring knife vertically. Be careful not to pierce through the flesh to the skin, as this will speed up the ripening process. The scoring will encourage the papaya to release ethylene more quickly, leading to an exceptionally sweet fruit.