Well, I know Papaya does not need any introduction. But still, I would like to tell you all, some facts about papaya because you know there is no harm in gaining knowledge. Rather the more you hear about something the wiser you get.
Papaya is a tropical fruit native to Mexico. There are two types of papayas-
the Mexican papaya and the Hawaiian papaya.
The Hawaiian papayas are oval with yellowish skin and about 6’’ long. They have orange flesh with dark black seeds inside. Each Hawaiian papaya weighs about 0.5 kg each.
Whereas, the Mexican papaya has yellowish-orange skin with flesh that may be orange, pink, or yellow. Each Mexican papaya weighs around 4.5 kg each. It is much larger than Hawaiian papaya.
Fun fact- Normally papaya is eaten when ripe, but it is also used in Thailand when green for “green papaya salad”.
Oh! I love papayas. Rather I should say I love all the fruits. But, what about you? Do you like papayas? What if you love papaya but can’t eat it whatever may be the reason?
Here, I am at the rescue so no need to worry. If you are searching for a papaya substitute, then you have come to the right place.
Papaya has a very unique and special flavor that is a little hard to
substitute. But yeah, it can be substituted by some other sweet and tropical fruits in terms of flavor, color, and texture. Now I am going to list down some substitutes for you. One or many of these substitutes together will work subject to what you need the papaya for. I am also considering green papaya especially for those of you who will be wanting to make a papaya salad.
The best papaya substitutes are mango, cantaloupe, pineapple, peaches or nectarines, or butternut squash. For green papaya substitutes, you can go for zucchini, cucumber, lotus root, or shredded cabbage, basically something neutral.
Papaya tastes kinda like a mix of pumpkin and melon. It has a mellow kind of sweet taste. It has got a crunchy taste, especially the green variety.
So to narrow the parameters for choosing our substitutes, it should be sweet, a little crunchy in the case of green papaya, and resembles the flavor of papaya.
As I already told you, it’s not completely replaceable but you can even use several of these together to form a more authentic substitute.
Now let’s take a look at these substitutes.
Mango has a very exotic tropical flavor. Its flavor might remind you of papaya. I would personally recommend you to use it in place of papaya while making a salad or a savory dish. I know it might not sound the coolest substitute or may not seem even close to papaya. But just give it a try for once. You will definitely like it.
I am guessing you would not have heard of cantaloupe. But I can bet that you would have eaten it before. So, Cantaloupe is a small round melon of a variety with orange flesh and ribbed skin. It is a variety of muskmelon species and belongs to the family of Cucurbitaceae. You can try it as its flavor is a little close to papaya, or you can try honeydew. Also, its color will be a little off. And if you have unfortunately found an underripe one, you can use it in your favor by replacing it in place of green papaya.
I have included pineapple on this list because of its crunchiness and sweetness. It is fresher than papaya, but it is by far the best for substituting papaya. And trust me on this, it would work wonders if you replace pineapple in place of green papaya.
Peaches and nectarines are a bit more mellow and soft than mangoes. They are sweet. If you are looking for a substitute that can match the color of papaya then peaches or nectarines are what you should be looking for. Also, they are not that strong in taste. Whether you choose peaches or nectarines, it does not matter at all as they are really similar in terms of taste or flavor. The only difference is that nectarines developed an alteration that left them hairless. In other words, nectarines are hairless peaches.
It has a sweet and nutty taste similar to that of a pumpkin. It has tan-yellow skin and orange flesh with a compartment of seeds within the blossom end. Yes, I know most people prefer eating pumpkins either cooked or baked. But you can eat it raw also and it is actually worth a shot.
Also, here’s a little bonus tip from my side, you can use canned pumpkin (which is available throughout the year) if you would like some papaya paste.
To begin with, you should know what green papaya is used for. Mainly it is
used for its neutral flavor, looks, and crunch. So, it can be substituted with
shredded cabbage, cucumbers, zucchini, Chinese cabbage, etc. as they are not sweet, are greenish, and don’t have a strong flavor.
Also, keep in mind, add zucchini and cucumber to your dish (if hot) at the end as they become limp when exposed to heat.
I hope you found this article helpful. I will look forward to your feedback. Do let me know.