Can Papaya Still Ripen After Cut: A Concise Guide on Post-Harvest Ripening

Ever slice open papaya and realize it still needs to be ripe? Super frustrating, right? Don’t worry – we have the answer in this article on how to ripen your favorite tropical fruit after you cut it prematurely.

Firstly, we have got good news for you. As it turns out, it is possible for some fruits, including papaya, to continue ripening even after they have been sliced open.

But before we get into our tips for ripening unripe papaya (paw paw), we first need to understand the ripening process.

So, grab a cuppa, relax, and let’s dive into this juicy dilemma together!

How Do Papaya Fruits Ripen?

papaya fruit

To understand how fruits ripen, knowing what causes it is essential.

Ethylene gas is a critical factor in maturing many fruits, like papayas. This hormone is naturally released by the fruit. It helps stimulate the ripening process, giving us the delicious texture and taste we love.

When cut open, papaya is exposed to air, which can cause a slower ripening process.

However, the ethylene gas produced by the fruit is still present, which may lead to continued ripening, even post-cutting.

Since every fruit is different, the extent of ripening can vary, but knowing there’s still a chance for cut papaya to ripen can be reassuring for those accidental early cuts.

Can Papaya Ripen After Being Cut?

Yes, papayas can ripen after being cut.

However, the ripening process will depend on the state of your papaya. And by this, we mean how much you have cut into the fruit.

Ripening a Papaya Cut in Half

If you were a bit overzealous and completely cut open your papaya, here are some steps you can follow:

  1. Remove Seeds: Using a spoon remove the papaya seeds.
  2. Set Up For Ripening: Lay the papaya cut-side-up in a dish or on a plate.
  3. Treat Your Papaya: Cover the exposed areas with a film of lemon or lime juice; this helps prevent discoloration and adds flavor.
  4. Cover the papaya lightly with plastic cling film or place it in an airtight container.
  5. Keep Your Papaya Cool: Place it in your refrigerator to prevent it from fermenting and becoming moldy.

This should keep your sliced papaya fresh for a couple of days (around 2-3 days) while it softens slightly.

Remember that once cut, the ripening process will slow down considerably compared to an uncut one, and there is also a risk of over-ripening, leading to fermentation if left too long.

So make sure you check regularly if it has achieved your desired level of ripeness!

Ripening a Whole Papaya that is Still Intact

whole papaya fruit

If you were fortunate enough to realize your papaya was still unripe and have only made an incision into the fruit, follow these steps to ripen it quickly:

  1. Seal the cut: Cover any cuts made to the unripe fruit using a small piece of cling film. This prevents the flesh from being exposed to oxygen and becoming moldy.
  2. Put the papaya in a Paper Bag: Place your unripe papaya into a brown paper bag. The bag will help to concentrate the ethylene gas that fruits produce naturally while they ripen.
  3. Add an Ethylene-Producing Fruit (Optional): Add another fruit, like an apple or banana, into the bag with the papaya for even quicker ripening. These fruits are known for releasing higher amounts of ethylene.
  4. Seal and Wait: Roll up the top of the bag to seal it off, then leave it at room temperature.
  5. Check the Ripeness Daily: Starting on day two, check your papaya daily by pressing gently on its skin with your thumb. A ripe papaya should yield slightly under gentle pressure.
  6. Remove When Ready: Once your papaya reaches its desired level of ripeness, remove it from the bag and use it immediately or store it in your refrigerator to slow down any further ripening.

Factors Affecting the Ripening Process

cutting papaya fruit

Let’s talk about the things that affect how papaya ripens after it’s been cut.

Three main things to consider are temperature, humidity, and ethylene gas production.


Temperature plays a crucial role in the ripening process of papaya.

The ideal temperature range for ripening papaya is between 68°F to 77°F (or 20°C to 25°C).

If the temperature is too low, ripening will be delayed or not occur. On the other hand, if the temperature is too high, the fruit may over-ripen or spoil quickly.

When you slice papaya with a sharp knife, you want it to become evenly ripe, meaning all parts get nice and sweet simultaneously.

To do that, remember: cool and dimly lit places are your friend – think of spots like a pantry. It’s like protecting ice cream from melting in the sun; you wouldn’t leave your cut papaya out in the hot, bright light either.


Humidity levels can also influence the ripening process of cut papaya. Dynamic humidity levels help maintain the fruit’s moisture content, which is necessary for the enzymes involved in ripening to function effectively.

Ideal humidity levels for papaya ripening are between 85% and 95%.

To provide optimal humidity for cut papaya, you can cover the cut surface with plastic wrap or store the fruit in an airtight container.

This will help maintain moisture and promote even ripening.

Ethylene Gas Production

We touched on ethylene gas earlier. It is a naturally occurring plant hormone that promotes ripening in fruits.

It triggers various biochemical processes responsible for color, texture, and taste changes during ripening.

Papayas naturally produce ethylene gas during their ripening process, and exposure to additional ethylene can further accelerate this process.

When ripening cut papaya, paying attention to the fruit’s ethylene gas production is essential.

As suggested above, one way to increase ethylene exposure is by placing the cut papaya in a closed container with other ethylene-producing fruits like bananas or apples. This will speed up the ripening process.

Other Methods to Ripen Cut Papaya

Earlier, we detailed the step-by-step process we like to use for ripening unripened papaya.

However, besides the brown paper bag method, there are other methods for ripening cut papaya.

Rice or Flour Immersion

An alternate method to ripen cut papaya is rice or flour immersion. This involves burying the cut fruit in a container of rice or flour to help accelerate the ripening process. Follow these steps:

  1. Place the cut papaya inside a container large enough to hold it.
  2. Submerge the papaya in uncooked rice or flour, ensuring it is completely covered.
  3. Leave the container in a warm, dark place for approximately 24-48 hours.
  4. Check periodically for ripeness and remove the papaya once it has reached your desired texture.

Both rice and flour effectively trap the papaya’s ethylene gas, stimulating the ripening process.

Using Other Fruits

variety of papaya cut fruit

Papaya can also ripen faster when placed near other fruits that produce ethylene gas. This can be done in the following way:

  1. Place the cut papaya on a plate or tray.
  2. Surround the papaya with other ripe, ethylene-producing fruits, such as bananas or apples.
  3. Cover the fruits loosely with a clean tea towel or cloth to encapsulate the ripening gases.
  4. Allow the papaya to sit for 24-48 hours, checking periodically for ripeness.

We advise using this method as it not only speeds the ripening of the cut papaya but also benefits from the natural ripening properties of other fruits.

Frequently Asked Questions for Ripening Cut Papaya Fruit

You should know the steps to ripen your cut papaya fruit by now. But in case you have a few lingering questions, we’ve put together a short section on common questions relating to whether papaya can still ripen after being cut.

Can a papaya still ripen after it has been cut?

Yes, cut papaya can continue to ripen, but the process will be slower than uncut. To help it ripen, place the cut side down and cover it with a clean, damp cloth to retain moisture.

How can I speed up the ripening process of cut papaya?

You can speed up the ripening process by placing the cut papaya in a paper bag or an enclosed container with a ripe banana or apple. The ethylene gas released by these fruits will help the papaya ripen faster. Remember to check it daily to avoid over-ripening.

How can I tell if a cut papaya is ripe?

A ripe cut papaya will show an increasingly vibrant orange color with a slightly soft texture. Additionally, the fruit will emit a pleasant, sweet aroma when it is ripe.

What can I do if my cut papaya is overripe or has gone bad?

  • If the papaya is too mushy but not rotten, consider using it in smoothies, sorbet, or as a natural sweetener in other recipes.
  • If the papaya shows signs of mold, a foul smell, or a slimy texture, discard it immediately, as it is no longer safe for consumption.

Remember, it is essential to maintain proper hygiene and storage conditions to minimize the risk of fruit spoilage.

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