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November 2008



Papaya Ecstasy!

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.


Papaya Seed Dressing

1 tsp salt
½ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp dry mustard
1 cup red wine vinegar
2 cups salad oil
2 T. papaya seeds
½ cup macadamia nuts (optional)
½ onion

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
2 cups pineapple juice
1 cup 2% milk (1% or skim can be used)
1 cup banana, sliced
8 ice cubes
2 T. honey
4 t. fresh lime juice

Combine all ingredients in blender. Puree until smooth. Pour into 4 glasses. Enjoy!


Puna Upside Down Cake

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
¾ cup brown sugar
1 ripe papaya, skinned, seeded, sliced

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.


3 eggs
1cup sugar
1cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt.
1/4 cup milk

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.


Papaya Marmalade

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
1-cup fresh tropical pineapple, shredded
grated rind of 1 orange
grated rind of 2 lemons
½ cup lemon juice
3 T grated ginger root
½ t. salt
1cup sugar for each cup of cooked fruit

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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