Although it looks like a melon, papaya, an exotic tropical fruit, is tree grown. Its juicy rose-gold flesh is firm and smooth with a flavor that is reminiscent of a Cranshaw melon. It tastes a little like a peach with a rich tropical sweetness.
Hawaiian papaya is pear-shaped and about 5 to 6 inches long. As with avocados or peaches, papayas bruise easily and should be handled carefully. The skin color ranges from half yellow-green to all yellow-orange when fully ripened.
If you select papayas on the greenish side, they can be ripened at home in a day or two at room temperature. Once ripe, they belong in the refrigerator, where they will keep for several days. Another plus is that papayas can be cut and prepared ahead of time for serving. Their sunny rose color does not turn dark.
To serve papayas for breakfast, cut the luscious fruit in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. It may be served in its skin or peeled and is ideal in salads or desserts as well.