Benefits Of: MOUNTAIN PAPAYA

Caricaceae (Papaya family) making marmalades or jellies. Fruits are also often stewed, sweetened, and served as dessert. Chunks of ripe fruit can be preserved in syrup. Unripe fruits are often boiled and consumed as a vegetable.

Comments. Mountain papayas are a very good source of vitamin C. Unripe fruits contain the proteolytic enzyme papain, which is used as a meat ten-derizer and in medicine for treating wounds. The tree is also known by the synonyms Carica candamarcen-sis and Vasconcellea pubescens.

Description. Sprawling or climbing evergreen shrub, 3-5 m (10-16 in) tall, with thorns up to 5 cm (2 in) long in the axils of leaves. Leaves opposite, oval to elliptic, 3-8 cm (1.2-3 in) long, leathery, dark green and glossy. Fragrant flowers white, often with a pink tubular base and 5 twisted petals. Fruits ovate to round, 1-3 cm (0.4-1.2 in) long, in clusters of 3-10 with purple-red to purple skin. Pulp red or pink, subacid to sweet, juicy with 2-8 small seeds. All plant parts contain sticky white latex.

Origin and Distribution. The karanda grows naturally in a region ranging from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Myanmar to Malaysia. The fruit is cultivated throughout Southeast Asia and some parts of Africa. It is very uncommon in tropical and subtropical America.

Food uses. Fruits are eaten raw or sprinkled with sugar to reduce acidity. Ripe karandas are boiled to get rid of the latex and obtain the juice, which is used to make refreshing beverages. Ripe fruits are rich in pectin and therefore used to make jellies and jams. Sweet varieties are used as fillings for tarts or in desserts and puddings. Underripe fruits are made into chutneys and are used as a vegetable in Asian curries. Green fruits are pickled in India.

Comments. With its showy flowers, the karanda is often planted as an ornamental or trimmed into a hedge. The plant’s heavily branched root system makes it suitable for erosion prevention on slopes. Fruits are rich in iron and contain fair amounts of vitamin C. The unripe fruits are astringent and used in some regions to treat diarrhea. The plant is also known by the synonym C. carandas.

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