I’m a huge fan of using as much from our food as possible, be it the skins of veg or seeds of fruit. I don’t like waste so this is great way to use up those papaya seeds that often make it into the compost. Enter, Papaya Seed Pepper!
You can eat papaya seeds raw. They have a very spicy taste but once dehydrated, they shrivel up into small balls that looks exactly like “normal” peppercorns and taste like them too.
Papaya has been used as a traditional medicine for many years throughout Central America for use as topical dressings for treating ulcers and dermatitis. The flesh is a great source of pro-vitamin A and ascorbic acid and papaya seeds are high in healthy fats and protein.
A study published in the Pakistan Journal of Nutrition showed that once fermented, the content of minerals including calcium, iron and magnesium increased. The seeds have been found to be beneficial for digestive health and a study on Nigerian children found that 76.7% of children tested negative for intestinal parasites seven days after starting a treatment consisting of papaya seeds and honey.
This method uses a dehydrator and I’d highly recommend using one for this although it can be done using sunlight or an oven on it’s lowest setting (40C).
I can’t stress enough how useful having a dehydrator has been – I’ve found it a be worthwhile investment (mine was only about £45) and great for making vegetable crisps, using pulp from nut milks, activating nuts and seeds and making papaya seed pepper.
I usually make the pepper around the same time as I’ve made coconut milk or soaked a batch of seeds that need dehydrating to save energy and time. Granted this does call for a little preparation but the benefits definitely outweigh the prep time. There is little effort involved in the actual process but you do need to set aside 24-36 hours, which is why it can be preferable to activate all your nuts/dry your milk pulp/make your pepper in one go if you can.
Using a dehydrator also means the seeds are raw as they are dehydrated below 46C.
Papaya seeds may not be suitable for pregnant women or those trying to get pregnant. Check with your doctor before consuming. Further reading can be found here.
1/2-1 Papaya I dehydrate a minimum of half a papayas worth of seeds at any one time. If I can’t eat the flesh within a couple of days I freeze it and make smoothies like Papaya & Beet Citrus Slushy.
Baking paper or a dehydrator tray with no holes so the seeds don’t fall through
Clean tea towel
Scoop the seeds out of the papaya. Save the papaya for smoothies, salads or for eating on it’s own.
Put the seeds in a sieve and rinse under the tap to get away as much of the fruit residue as possible. You may need to pick off any bits of orange flesh.
The seeds will appear slimy. Once the seeds are free from stringy flesh, place them in a tea towel and lightly press the towel over the seeds to absorb as much water as possible. You want them to be as dry as can be before putting them in the dehydrator.
Cut a piece of baking paper to the size of your dehydrator tray if you don’t have trays with holes small enough to stop the seeds falling through. They will shrink in size during the drying process.
Spread the seeds out over the baking paper/trays. Try to ensure they aren’t in clumps as they will take longer to dry.
Once spread evenly, set the dehydrator to 45C, put the lid on the dehydrator and you’re good to leave them drying. They take around 24-26 hours to dry properly, if the seeds have been adequately dried from the initial wash during preparation. You can set the dehydrator on a timer but check them after 12 hours. They will have shrunk a bit during this time and sometimes need separating. Check again after 24 hours and if they’re shrivelled and completely dry they are ready to be used as pepper! If not, put them back in the dehydrator. You may need to put them back in for anywhere up to another 10 hours, depending on how wet they are. I’ve only had to do this once when I’d left a bit of flesh of and the seeds had clumped together.