Saturday, January 14, 2012
First Papaya Harvest
This was the first year any of our papaya trees bore fruit. We never had any put on fruit until this year, and we weren't sure how long the fruits would last before a freeze threatened. We found out...
One of the trees appeared to be a yellow-fruiting papaya, and the other the ruby type fruit. We watched with great anticipation as the fruits developed in a spiraling pattern up the trunks, slowly growing larger. There were nearly 20 on the ruby papaya, and a half dozen or more on the yellow.
We had to harvest all the papayas prematurely, or at least earlier than we would have chosen, when we heard that the temps would drop to freezing for not one day, but at least two in a row. Still, I wrapped them as well as possible in sheets. But the night before all that, we went ahead and brought in the fruits that were big enough to allow to ripen and eat.
The yellow papaya fruits were smaller than the ruby papayas, but they still got bigger than what I've seen in the stores. They are more round, as well. This one is the first of any of them to ripen since we harvested the lot. The skins turn mottled and patchy and aren't the kind of "supermarket attractive," but the real treasure is on the inside...
The flesh of the yellow papayas is a pale cantaloupe color. It appears these seeds were not fully developed, or at least that's my guess, since we harvested them early.
But the proof's not just in the hardiness, but also in the taste. I've tasted some bland and downright yuck papayas before from the store, and others that were wonderful. For me, papaya has been an acquired taste, but I was pleasantly surprised tonight when we shared a half for dinner. This particular one had a mellow honey taste with mild papaya flavor...not insipidly mild, and also not heavily musky like some papayas. It was sweet and tender, so...SUCCESS!!!!
We're new to being able to actually have any fruit to show for our (well, Jack's) tree-growing efforts. But it is worth the wait! And I'm not sure I'm yet adjusted, even after 8 years, of having fresh fruit ripening in the middle of winter. But NO complaints!
Are you northerners eating your jars of apple butter yet and drinking spiced cider? It's COLD up there :)
And a question for any Floridians...do your papaya trees die all the way back in the winter likes ours are? If not, what's your secret?
And final question...I posted these pics a larger size than most of my posts. On your screen, do they bleed over the column edges, or are they just fine? If they are problematic for some of your formats, I'll shrink them again.
Hope everyone is staying warm!