General News

29 August, 2023

Papaya on the upturn

THE under-rated red papaya is being given a makeover to increase its popularity as a food. Mareeba papaya grower Skybury Farms is launching the first Papaya Week next month.

By Nick Dalton

Skybury Farms general manager Candy MacLaughlin with papayas. Picture: FNQ Food Magazine
Skybury Farms general manager Candy MacLaughlin with papayas. Picture: FNQ Food Magazine

Skybury general manager Candy MacLaughlin said the concept was to introduce restaurants, cafés and the public more broadly to the benefits inherent in the widely grown and marketed red papaya.

“Our idea is to do a pilot program locally here in TNQ and partner with local restaurants, so we are able to show chefs and diners how delicious and versatile this local crop really is,” she said.

“With nearly all red papaya eaten in Australia grown within 500km of Cairns, the industry is a major employer supplying around 5000 tonnes each year to meet intrastate and interstate demand and contributing about $20 million per annum into the economy.

“Our papaya fields at Paddy’s Green near Mareeba are part of a patchwork of neighbouring growers’ farms.

“As well as Skybury, there are several other major papaya growers in Far North Queensland who grow and pick red papaya for 52 weeks a year.

“As an industry, papaya would employ thousands of people directly and hundreds more indirectly in transport, logistics, storage and retailing.”

Papaya Week will run from September 11-17 2023, with restaurant partners Ochre Restaurant, Guyala Café, Caffiend and Skybury’s own café set to embrace papaya power in

specially created papaya dishes on their menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“One of the interesting aspects of papaya – apart from it being a delicious and nutritious superfood – is that it is incredibly versatile,”Ms MacLaughlin said.

“You can use it in a papaya boat for breakfast, in bruschetta for lunch, and in savoury curries for dinner. And anytime is papaya smoothie time.”

Fast facts

• Papaya’s nickname is the ‘fruit of the angels’ and it comes from the explorer Christopher Columbus, who, during his voyages to the Americas, was impressed by the sweet and heavenly taste of the tropical fruit.

• It’s a superfood rich in nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, potassium, and magnesium 

• High in antioxidants such as carotenoids and flavonoids

• Boosts digestion with an enzyme called papain, which aids in breaking down proteins and supports digestion.


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