By Karen Yoneda
Papaya, an herb resembling a palm tree, grows from seeds to a height of 10 to 13 feet. It bears fruit within a year of planting and has been grown commercially in Hawaii since the 1920s.
Papaya is filled with nutrients: Vitamin C, antioxidants, iron, calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Folic Acid, Copper, Phosphorus, Potassium, Iron and fiber. It also contains papain, a digestive enzyme used in meat tenderizers, and many doctors use it for various indigestions or medicinal cures. It is “papaya ecstasy” but does not get the credit it deserves.
The Hawaiians called it “papaia” but papaya is indigenous to tropical America, Mexico and Central America and was called the “fruit of the angels,” during the age of Columbus. The Spaniards knew this fruit as pawpaw and introduced it to the Hawaiian Islands in the 18 th century. Evidence of this famous pear-shaped fruit was seen in the Oahu botanical gardens of the gentlemen farmer, Don Francisco de Paul Marin, a deserter from a Spanish ship who served as an advisor to King Kamehameha, as well to Queen Ka’ahumanu.
Last year on our visit to Hilo Farmer’s Market, my husband, John and I purchased two locally grown Solo papayas for $1.00. In addition to Solo, Hawaii has other varieties which include Kamiya (round), as well as two genetically modified types, Rainbow and Sunrise. And for the past year, we have been enjoying papaya seed dressing, which was a gift or “omiyage” from a family friend, Raynette Goshi.
1 tsp salt
Mix salt, sugar, mustard and vinegar in blender. Add oil gradually with blender running. Remove to a serving bowl. . In the blender, blend together papaya seeds, macadamia nuts and onion. Stir into oil and vinegar mixture. Served chilled over tossed greens or cole slaw for 6 persons. Enjoy.
For a quick breakfast or snack, I searched for an easy smoothie recipe which is courtesy of University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources and Kapiolani Culinary Arts:
4 cups papaya, peeled and chopped
Combine all ingredients in blender. Puree until smooth. Pour into 4 glasses. Enjoy!
Many people enjoy Pineapple Upside Down Cake. Why not try Puna Upside Down Cake for dessert? Since most of the papayas are grown commercially in Puna on the Big Island, this location should be given the credit... Try it and you would love it!
Courtesy of Anna and Den Kerlee, see Recipes of Aloha Cookbook page 75. (Note: we met Kerlees at UHAA PNW) in Bellevue, Washington.)
2 oz butter
Melt butter in a heavy pan (cast iron is good) or inch deep cake pan. Add brown
Sugar and cook slowly, stirring continuously for 5 to 10 minutes or until bubbly over the entire surface. Arrange the sliced papaya in a nice pattern over the entire surface.
Beat eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Add milk. Sift flour and re-measure. . Sift again with baking powder and salt. Fold in egg mixture. Pour batter over fruit, butter and brown sugar. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to one hour until cake tests done. Turn over onto a serving platter while still warm. Can be served plain or with a dollop of whipped cream.
For invigorating breakfast, complete with eggs, cereal and sausage, serve the toast with Papaya Marmalade, courtesy of the ladies of First Presbyterian Church in Honolulu:
10 cups ripe papaya
Combine all ingredients except sugar. Boil 30 minutes. Measure cooked fruit and equal parts of sugar. Cook together, stirring frequently to prevent burning. When done, pour into hot sterilized glass and seal with paraffin. Keep up to 6 months. Yield: 4 pints.
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