This week when I went to the local feria (farmers market) I saw these beautiful Chilean papayas. I knew what they were because I had bought some preserved in glass jars in La Serena, north of
a few hundred miles. Santiago
But I had never seen them fresh. Naturally I bought some: these three were a little less that $1.00 (900 CLP/kg.) They were firm to the touch and had a lovely aroma, but I didn’t know what to do with them.
I discovered that they were mountain Papayas (Carica candamarcensis, or perhaps Caricacea pubescens, or Vasconcellea pubescens) and that there was some confusion about them. Most sources (but not all) knew that they were not the same as the tropical papaya (Carica papaya) and most (but not all) knew that they should be cooked before eating because of their high levels of papain, an enzyme that digests proteins…. or perhaps just because they are hard.
The most authoritative source I discovered was from Perdue University Horticulture Department:
The mountain papaya (C. candamarcencis Hook. f.), is native to Andean regions from
Venezuelato at altitudes between 6,000 and 10,000 ft (1,800-3,000 m). The plant is stout and tall but bears a small, yellow, conical, 5-angled fruit of sweet flavor. It is cultivated in climates too cold for the papaya, including northern Chile where it thrives mainly in and around the towns of Coquimbo and La Serena at near-sea-level. The fruit (borne all year) is too rich in papain for eating raw but is popular cooked, and is canned for domestic consumption and for export. The plant grows on mountains in Chile Ceylonand South India; does well at 1800 ft (549 m) in Puerto Rico. Its high resistance to papaya viruses is of great interest to plant breeders there and elsewhere.
But what to do with them? Almost all the recipes I found started with papaya preserves, not the fresh fruit, but I found a few references that led me in the right direction. So I peeled them, simmered them in water, let them cool and took out the seeds, and cooked them some more with sugar.
This is what they looked like cooked, and ready to be seeded.
And this is the finished product. The commercial version is below.
And here’s my recipe.
How are they? Very good: firm, acid, and sweet with a taste somewhere between peach and mango. And the syrup is great.
 Morton, J. 1987. Papaya. p. 336–346. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton,
, FL. Quoted in NewCROPTM - The New Crop Resource Online Program” article on papaya. On line at http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/papaya_ars.html Miami
 See “Conservas de papayas,” Cocinando con Martita on line at http://www.martita.cl/index.php?menu=receta&id=1735