Tropical fruit – part 1.

Tropical fruit – part 1.

Do you, sometimes, miss something what you can’t have? I miss tropical fruit so much. But I know, I’m not the only one. 🙂 Our friends from Brasil miss berries as much as I do the tropical fruit.

Everytime, I’m in the tropical country, I’m in heaven. I was so happy in South America, although tropical fruit was not available in each country we’ve visited. Brasil and Peru are our favourite ones thanks to fruit selection.

I’d like to share with you at least a part of our tropical fruit experience and encourage you to taste these delicacies once you’ll have a chance. This first article is about papaya and mango.


Fresh papaya
Fresh halved papaya.

About papaya

The papaya is native to Central America and northern part of South America. Thanks to mankind it is now cultivated in southeastern Asia, India, Africa.

This beauty is full of vitamins. After all, which fruit is not full of vitamins. 🙂 But papaya could easily dethrone lemon, which is, in fact, not a real King of Vitamin C. It is also low in fat and contains potassium, which helps to lower blood pressure.

Eating too much papaya can lead to yellowing of your soles and palms. The same effect applies when you eat too much carrots. No worries, chameleon, it is harmless and just temporary color effect :).

Papaya is called mamão in Brasil, malagor in Thailand, papita in India, and fruta bomba in Cuba.

Foz do Iguacu, Brasil: Papaya plant in the garden of our hosts.

What to do with it

You can eat both, ripe or raw, papaya. Unripe (green) papaya is usually used as vegetable. Taste of unripe papaya lacks flavour, but once it is seasoned with salt and sugar, the taste resembles cucumber.

Unripe papaya contains enzyme papain, which helps tenderize meat. Green papaya is used in salads (Som Tum), cooked fruit can be used in many dishes like soups, or curries. Eating unripe papaya can cause allergic reaction, laxative effect and it isn’t good for pregnant women.

Ripe fruit has yellow skin and rots quickly. So, don’t wait, cut it and eat it! The smell of ripe papaya is not very pleasant, but the taste always balances this deficiency. Ripe fruit has deliciously sweet taste and with few drops of lime juice it is incredibly good. You can make sorbet, fresh juice, jam from papaya, or add it to cakes.

Black seeds from middle of the fruit are edible. They have sharp and spicy flavor. In some regions they are used as substitute for black pepper.

Flowers are edible when fried. The young leaves of papaya are steamed and eaten like spinach in some Asian countries.


Halved mango
Fresh halved mango.

About mango

The mango is native to southern Asia, especially Myanmar and eastern part of India. Tropical and subtropical areas with non-freezing periods, extended dry period, with access to water and hot temperatures above 30 °C are the best conditions for mango trees.

It tastes so good that you will not care much about vitamins or minerals. But, if it helps you to feel better then 100 g of fresh mango contains about 44 % of daily value of Vitamin C.

There are many names for mango in the world – manga (Portugal, Brasil), ma muang (Thailand), mango (english speaking countries and Slovakia :)).

More than 160 varieties of mango are grown in 90 countries. That’s pretty much mangoes to taste in one life. In Europe only Spain grow mangoes (around Malaga and on Canary Islands – once you’ll be there, try to taste real mangoes). There are mangoes mainly from Brasil, Peru or Burkina Faso in Slovakia.

Mango trees
Jardim Botanico, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil: Mango alley in Botanic garden.

What to do with it

Ripe mango is nice and soft to touch and gives beautiful sweet smell. If you buy unripe fruit, let it ripe for few days at a room temperature.

Flesh is the main edible part of mango, however in some countries people eat its skin, too. Be aware while working with its skin as it contains oils that can cause dermatitis. Don’t even try to eat the skin. You can try to grow your own mango tree. Cut the big pit inside of the mango, but be careful and don’t cut the seed inside a pit. Remove the seed and plant it in the soil.

The taste of mango depends on the variety and its maturity. Some sorts taste like honey (Alphonso, Ataulfo) and have tender, juicy flesh. Tommy Atkins, Kent and Keitt varieties (the most common varieties in our region) can have fibres, which like to be trapped in your interdental spaces, so be careful :).

As well as papaya, mango can be used both ripe or unripe. Unripe mango is used in chutneys, pickles, or as a side dish. Both green and ripe fruit can be added to fresh salads.

You can prepare many delicacies from ripe mango like fresh mango juice, milkshake with coconut milk, mango sorbet, jelly, Indian mango lassi (mix natural yogurt with mango, add sugar or some spices to taste) and my favourite one is the Thai sweet mango with sticky rice. Enjoy it.

How to peel and slice mango


Did you know, that

  • Most of the vegetables are fruits 🙂 Bit confusing, but fruit, from biological perspective, is the part of the plant that was developed from the ovary of the flower and have seeds (bell peppers, tomatoes, eggplants are fruits). Vegetables are leaves (lettuce, spinach, cabbage), roots (carrot, parsley root, potatoes, beetroot) or stems (celery, broccoli, cauliflower).
  • Papaya is a fruit of plant, not tree. This plant grows up to 10 metres.
  • Mango is related to cashew, pistachio or sumac spice.

Sources of information and further reading

Papaya. (2016). Retrieved from

Potassium. (2016). Retrieved from

Papayas, raw. (May, 2016). Retrieved from

Pectin. (2016). Retrieved from

Papaya. (1996, 1997). Retrieved from

Duarte, Odilo, and Robert Paull. Exotic Fruits and Nuts of the New World. Croydon: CABI, 2015. Google books. Web.

Janick, Jules, and Robert E. Paull. The Encyclopedia of Fruit and Nuts. Cambridge: CABI, 2008. Google books. Web.

Promising EU export markets for fresh mangoes. (2015, November 29). Retrieved from

Mango. (2016). Retrieved from

Mangos, raw. (2016). Retrieved from

List of mango cultivars. (2016). Retrieved from

What’s the Difference Between a Fruit and a Vegetable? (2012, June 12). Retrieved from

Mango. (1996). Retrieved from

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.