Jul 6, 2023
Papaya is one of the tropical fruits that adds an interesting layer of flavor and texture to drinks and salads. Some aren’t fans of it, but when they tried it out, freeze-dried? They became converts and can’t get enough out of it. So here’s how to freeze dry papaya so you’ll have a delicious, healthy snack that’s better than the fresh one.
Ripe papaya wins hands down if you want a sweet, tropical treat. They’re great for smoothies, drinks, and snacks. Green papaya, on the other hand, goes well for salads. So go for the papaya that will suit your food plans. For our family, we choose the ripe ones because we can’t get enough of the tropical sweetness.
Choosing unripe papaya is easier than ripe ones. Look for a papaya that’s solid green in color and has smooth, blemish-free skin. Small ones tend to have a hint of sweetness to it, while the long ones lack flavor.
For ripe papaya, choose one that’s transitioning from green to a yellow or orange color. The fruit is fully ripe and has a sweet flavor when it’s entirely yellow or orange with no bruising. It should be firm (not hard), with a bit of give to it. Don’t get one that’s too soft and dimples when pressed.
Get the fruit that has a musky, sweet smell and feels heavy for its size. Don’t pick one that has no scent. If the fruit has a slightly sour smell, that’s already overripe and won’t taste as good.
Go for the short variety if you want a strong musky papaya taste. If you want a “tamer” flavored ripe fruit, go for the long ones. Though they tend to be bland, freeze-drying can make them taste better.
Don’t be intimidated if this is the first time you’ve handled a whole papaya that’s not pre-cut. It’s actually straightforward to prepare with a bit of practice.
Pre-freezing is an option but can help shorten your freeze-drying time. Papaya has more than 80% water content, so it can take a while to freeze and freeze dry.
Pre-freezing also helps you keep the temperature in your freeze dryer stable. Ever got told by your mom or grandma not to put warm food in the fridge? This is because the warm temperature shocks the fridge, causing it to work double time to compensate for the rise in temperature.
It’s the same with introducing warm food or trays in your freeze dryer. Also, think of it this way. While your freeze dryer’s busy processing food, your trays of papaya are already freezing in your deep freezer. So, when your unit’s done, you only need to do minimal prepping to start another batch of freeze-drying.
Harvest Right freeze dryers make freeze-drying easy for everyone, even if you’ve never freeze dried food in your life.
Freeze drying can take 19-32 hours, depending on how thick your fruit slices are and how many.
The fruit should be crunchy, airy, and dry. While the trays are still warm, touch the fruit and check if any feels soft, moist, and cool. If some don’t feel right, add 2-4 hours of extra dry time.
You can store them as they are or grind them into fine powder. Grinding them makes it convenient for tropical shakes and smoothies.
You can store your freeze-dried papaya in Mylar bags to make it easy to store and carry around. They’re the top choice for long-term food storage because they keep away air and moisture. If you have a big bag and have a lot of fruit to store, you can heat seal the bag in segments to portion it. This way, you only take out what you need while the rest remain safe from exposure.
Another storage option is Mason jars. It’s a great trophy display of the food you freeze-dried. Kidding aside, we love this because these jars are resealable. So if we want some papaya a week or two after, it’s easy to open the jar, get our fix, and seal it again.
But let’s say you want to eat it within days? Air-tight containers work well. We love to travel, and having it airtight containers to entertain the kids and keep us full is a godsend. But, of course, this means that our stash is gone almost immediately.
Whatever you choose, use 1-2 packets of 300cc oxygen absorbers for every gallon-size container. Also, remember to replace them each time you open your Mylar bags and Mason jars.
Freeze-dried papaya can last for 25 years or more under proper storage conditions. Keep your supply in a dark, draft-free, moisture-free room. The room temp should be less than 72°F (22 °C), with a relative humidity of 15% or less.
Freeze-dried food is spoiled when it smells funky, putrid, and sour. Also, your supply’s no longer edible if the papaya’s discolored or has spots on them.
What’s your favorite variety of papaya, and what do you often use it for? Let us know in the comment section.
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