“Hope—that bubbling ingredient in life which is like carbonation in a drink, giving it zest, keeping it in motion, always pushing it up.” DuPrey
We had no idea all the many health benefits from the fruit of the papaya tree. We simply picked it from our own tree and enjoyed it. All that occurred when we moved to the little village of Neves in the interior of the State of Sao Paulo–that was after being in Brazil just over two years. I don’t recall ever tasting papaya till we picked the fruit from the tree we inherited on the property we bought. That property provided for us a house and church. Instantly we came to love this fruit; but with the size of the fruit and the continuing production on this twelve foot tree, we had to do more with it than just slice up the fruit for desert. So what did we do? We purchased our first blender to make papaya smoothies.
I’ve never seen papaya of the size or colour of the ones we inherited in our yard. Though the pear shaped fruit on our tree when ripe might hit perhaps sixteen inches, yet the info I have says it can grow to twenty inches. But most papaya in markets here seldom go beyond seven inches though the street markets in Brazil would have some larger than that. You see, shipping a ten pound or larger papaya could be a problem for the fruit has the consistency of butter…well maybe cold butter. The colour of the meat in our papayas was not the yellow or orange you’d find in a market here but deep reddish orange. And sweet! A papaya ripening on the tree has its own enticing exotic taste.
There in Neves we had an important guest, the General Secretary of the Mission Board from the HQ of the American church. He came way out there to see what was going on among the coffee ranches. Well, Doris wanted to make something special for the dinner meal that particular Sunday. But with our isolation nothing was available to make the pie she had in mind except—of course, the papaya. After our guest ate his piece of pie he asked, “Where did you ever get peaches here for that pie?” When Doris explained that it was papaya he could hardly believe it. For us, it was just plain papaya from our own private tree.
There are other options of course in how you might eat papaya other than in a pie or from a blender. So cut the papaya in half—of course if it is as big as the ones we used to have you’d better have a long knife. Then take a spoon and dish out the black seeds for both the seeds and the rind are not edible. Then you can eat the papaya with a spoon after cutting it into personal sized slices. If you don’t mind being a bit messy, eat it the way you might a watermelon. You’ll be smacking your lips I know—though some prefer adding a bit of lemon or orange juice.
You may know papaya not by its Brazilian name but by Papaw or Pawpaw. How well does it produce? Well, one tree kept our family supplied and the tree would normally have at least a half dozen forming high up and tight to the trunk. I don’t recall how I picked our fruit from this tall tree but it must have been from a ladder—no low picking fruit on this tree. There isn’t much use trying to grow a papaya tree here—it definitely is not winter hardy and even if you tried the seeds might not sprout. In fact I am told that the fruit needs the warm weather to ripen. A male tree is needed to provide the pollen to set the fruit but we never had one. Not a problem. The wind and the insects from around the village of Neves would do all that for us.
When I think of that papaya tree that bore fruit all the time we lived in Neves I recall that in a way fruit bearing was what Doris and I were trying to do as well. Our church hall situated just a stone’s throw away from that papaya tree is where a number of village children attended. They came to our Sunday School and youth programs that Doris directed; but with their poverty they had little hope of a better life. Given some help and encouragement those same children are now retiring having spent their lives as teachers, musicians and business people. I encourage you to be fruitful; give a hand to someone in such a situation, perhaps in another country. Enjoy a papaya but also enjoy being the kind of a person that encourages someone—perhaps an encouragement that extends into eternity.