Yesterday I talked briefly about the custard apple, and I want to continue the theme of tropical fruits of the New World today by considering Carica papaya. The plant is native to the tropical regions of Central and South America. There are two varieties of the fruit, but no consistency in the use of the common names of paw-paw and papaya. In Queensland, paw-paw is generally used for the yellow type, and papaya for the red-fleshed version as well as the unripe green fruit.
As with the custard apple, the ripe pawpaw is most commonly prepared very simply by peeling and eating raw. Unlike the custard apple however, the unripe green pawpaw is also eaten – either raw in salads, or cooked as a vegetable. The pawpaw also lends itself very well to the preparation of jam, pickle and chutney.
Cut the pawpaw into strips, cover with weak lime-water and after 12 hours drain well, and place in a saucepan; barely cover with cold water. Boil gently for 20 minutes, and drain again. To 4 bs. of pawpaw allow 3 small chillies, ¼ b. sugar, a dessertspoon of tumeric, 1 oz. crushed ginger, a teaspoon mustard, and 1 tablespoon cornflour. Boil all these together in a quart of vinegar, and when boiling stir in the pawpaw and boil for 20 minutes. When cool, put into bottles and
cover till airtight.
Line a nicely-coloured, firm pawpaw and cut it into very tiny diced pieces, and allow one level cup of sugar to every heaped cup of pawpaw, and to every 7 cups of fruit 1 cup of fresh lemon juice, and another cup of sugar. Boil briskly for 15 or 20 minutes or until pawpaw is soft.
This jam is delicious, but does not keep too long, so should be put in small pots, and not too much made at once.
The Central Queensland Herald (Rockhampton, Qld.) 2 March 1933
Ingredients: l cups self-raising flour, 1 tablespoon butter, I teaspoon sugar, pinch of salt, pawpaw, orange juice, passion fruit.
Method: Sift flour into a basin, rub in the butter, add sugar and salt. Mix with unboiled milk, roll out, and spread over a plate. Fill with thin slices of pawnpaw, well-sprinkled with sugar, a little orange juice and passionfruit on top. Cover with pastry and bake in a moderate oven
Queensland Times (Ipswich, Qld.) 20 November, 1933
And some slightly more unusual ideas from Australian newspapers of a time when nothing was wasted, and a pawpaw tree could be found in many backyards:
Baked Pawpaw and Tomato Sauce
One half-ripe pawpaw,
Half a cup grated cheese,
A lump of butter the size of a walnut.
Salt, pepper, cayenne,
Half a cup of tomato sauce.
Two ounces macaroni, boiled and drained,
Half a cup of breadcrumbs.
Method: Peel the pawpaw and remove the seeds, then cut it into lengths about three-quarters of an inch thick. Grease a piedish and sprinkle it with breadcrumbs, put in a layer of pawpaw, then a layer of macaroni. Continue with these layers, adding a little of the cheese each time until the dish is nearly full. Season with the salt, pepper, and cayenne as the layers proceed. Add about half the cheese to the tomato sauce and stir over the fire until the sauce is smooth. Then pour over the pawpaw mixture. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and put small pieces of butter on the top. Bake in a moderate oven about half an hour, or until the pawpaw is cooked. Serve hot.
The Mail (Adelaide, SA) 24 May 1947
The pawpaw can be used as a vegetable as well as a fruit. Get a pawpaw that is just, turning ripe, cut it into quarters, then cut each quarter again, but do not peel it; put it into a baking tin, sprinkle well with salt and pepper, put some good dripping or butter in the pan, bake in a very hot oven for twenty minutes.
Get some green pawpaws, put them into an enamelled saucepan of boiling water, with out either peeling or cutting them at all. Put about a tablespoonful of salt in the water and boil for half-an-hour or until tender. Place them in a dish, cut them in half, and put a large piece of butter in each piece, sprinkle with pepper and salt, and serve very hot.
The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld) 17 March 1900
Peel a ripe pawpaw, cut a small square hole in the side, remove all seeds and fill with a well-seasoned mince or breadcrumbs and onions. Replace square plug in hole and place in a meat dish, with a little butter, spread over It. Cook in a good oven until tender, basting occasionally. Serve with sauce made of thickened marmite or a rich butter sauce.
The Charleville Times (Qld.) 6 November 1931