The pawpaw and papaya are both tropical fruit that are part of the Caricaceae family. They have comparable names and even look similar in appearance which is why they often get mixed up. Can you tell the difference between a pawpaw and papaya? If you’re not 100% over this topic then keep reading as we compare these fruit.
A comparison of pawpaw and papaya
A pawpaw (or papaw) is a large, oval shaped fruit that has a mild flavor similar to banana. It has green skin until it ripens and turns yellow with green patches. A papaya is a medium sized fruit that is more elongated than a pawpaw. It has a sweet, tropical taste and green skin until it ripens and turns a yellowish orange shade.
Want to know more about papayas? Check out our guide on what papayas taste like and, more importantly, how to tell if it’s ready to eat (something that’s easy to get wrong).
|Shape||Oval||Elongated, like a gridiron ball|
|Skin color||Yellow with patches of green||Yellowish orange|
|Flesh color||Yellow with an orange tinge||Reddish pink|
|Flavor||Mild, similar to a banana||Sweet, tropical, a cross between a cantaloupe and mango|
|How to store||In a sealed plastic bag in the fridge||In a sealed plastic bag in the fridge|
|Keeps for||Up to 1 week||Up to 1 week|
|Best uses||Raw, fruit salads, puddings, chutney, salsa||Dried, smoothies, fruit salads, stir fries, desserts, meat tenderizer|
Pawpaws are larger than papayas, growing up to the size of a large marrow they can provide enough fruit for a small army. Papayas grow to a similar size as a small butternut; they are smaller than a pawpaw.
- 1 medium pawpaw yields approximately: 2 ½ cups of fruit, chopped.
- 1 medium papaya yields approximately: 1 ½ cups of fruit, chopped.
A papaya is more elongated that a pawpaw. Some would compare a papaya to a gridiron ball and a pawpaw to a soccer ball. I’d agree with the papaya comparison but I pity the soccer player who has to play with a pawpaw shaped ball. It is nowhere near round in shape; however, it is rounder than a papaya.
Both fruit have green skin when they’re unripe. Once ripened a pawpaw is yellow with some patches of green whilst a papaya is yellowish orange.
The ripe flesh of a pawpaw is yellow with an orange tinge and papaya has a reddish pink colored flesh.
The flavors or pawpaw and papaya are noticeably different. To start with, pawpaw is a very mild, mellow tasting fruit which could be loosely compared to a banana. It has a custard-like flesh.
A papaya has a bolder, sweeter taste that you get from many other tropical fruit. Although it has a unique flavor, it could best be compared to a cross between a cantaloupe and mango. When eaten at the right time, its texture is creamy and chewing is hardly required; it melts in your mouth.
If unripe, both fruit should be placed in a paper bag, sealed at the top and left on the counter until ripe. Placing a pear or apple in the bag can help speed up the ripening process.
Both the pawpaw and papaya, when ripened, should be stored in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge. They will keep for up to 1 week but eating within two days is recommended.
To store for up to 12 months, the pawpaw and papaya can be frozen. Slice the fruit lengthwise and scoop out the seeds before slicing into pieces. Place in an airtight container and place at the back of the freezer to reduce temperature fluctuation.
Pawpaw is delicious eaten in slices raw. It can be used in many other recipes including fruit salads, puddings, chutney, salsa, bread, muffins and much more.
The vibrant color of papaya makes it an excellent choice sliced into pieces as a snack. It is also perfect for breakfast smoothies, fruit salads, stir fries, chutney, desserts and it can even work well as a meat tenderizer. Papaya can also be dried and eaten on the go as a snack; be warned though, like most dried fruit, it is very sweet.
- The seeds of papayas can be ground up and used as a substitute for pepper.
- Drizzle a halved and seeded pawpaw or papaya in honey and butter then bake for a simple dessert.
- Add a splash of lime juice to a papaya or pawpaw when eating them raw. It will really enhance the flavor.
- Use a melon baller to scoop balls of pawpaw or papaya into a bowl along with vanilla ice cream.
When comparing pawpaw vs papaya they can look similar at a glance and having similar names doesn’t help with the confusion. The easiest way to tell them apart is their shape; a pawpaw will have a larger rounded shape and a papaya is more elongated.
The other big difference between these fruit is their taste. A pawpaw is a mellow flavored fruit and is often compared to a banana. Papayas are a sweeter option with a more pronounced tropical taste.
And finally, pawpaw flesh is yellowish orange whilst papaya flesh is a more vibrant reddish pink.
Although the two fruit have their differences, in the kitchen you could use the two fruit interchangeably. If you find yourself at the supermarket perplexed as to which one to buy I prefer papayas for their unmistakable tropical taste and texture. Which do you prefer? Leave a comment below and let the world know what you think.