Are you unsure what the difference is between a pawpaw and a papaya? Don’t worry it is confusing for many consumers. There is a difference between the two fruits, although they are the same species, Carica. You might be more familiar with the papaya which has been common in South Africa for longer.
What is a Pawpaw?
Pawpaw, Asimina triloba, is native to the eastern part of the US and Canada and its found in the temperate climes. It belongs to the Annonaceae family, just like soursop and custard apples and it is also called Poor man’s bananas. They look like mangoes or stubby bananas . They have a sweet taste similar to banana, mango and pineapple and are often eaten raw. They are also used for desserts. The fruits are not commercially sold yet.
What is a Papaya?
Papayas are spherical or pear-shaped fruits that can be as long as 20 inches. The ones commonly found in the market usually average about 7 inches and weigh about one pound. Their flesh is a rich orange color with either yellow or pink hues. Inside the inner cavity of the fruit are black, round seeds encased in a gelatinous-like substance. Papaya's seeds are edible, although their peppery flavor is somewhat bitter. The fruit, as well as the other parts of the papaya tree, contain papain, an enzyme that helps digest proteins. This enzyme is especially concentrated in the fruit when it is unripe. Papain is extracted to make digestive enzyme dietary supplements and is also used as an ingredient in some chewing gums.
Papaya and pawpaw have a noticeably different flavor. Pawpaw is a mild, slightly tangy-tasting fruit that could be loosely compared to a banana. It has rich, creamy flesh that is luxurious and sometimes compared to custard.
Papaya has a stronger, sweeter taste that’s found in many tropical fruit types. Although it has a unique flavor, it’s best described as a cross between a cantaloupe and mango. When eaten at the right time, its texture is creamy and the flesh melts in your mouth
The seeds of pawpaw are big and it countable as you can see in the picture above while the seeds of papaya are small and it uncountable.
Carica papaya is unsurprisingly known as papaya in most parts of the world. In some countries (notably Australia, New Zealand and South Africa) papaya only refers to the red fleshed variant of this fruit. The yellow fleshed fruit is instead known as paw paw or yellow pawpaw. In these countries the North American paw paw is relatively unknown.
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