Papaya is one of the most common fruits grown in Puerto Rico. Here, the unripe fruit is candied, transforming it into a dessert that is often served with queso de país, a soft white farmer's cheese. The slices are traditionally prepared over an open fire, but we've translated the recipe for an indoor kitchen. Soaking the papaya in a baking soda solution prevents it from falling apart when cooked. The leftover spiced syrup is delicious added to cocktails or drizzled over ice cream. Read more about this recipe.

EatingWell Magazine, April 2021


Credit: Jenny Huang

Recipe Summary

25 mins
1 hr 45 mins


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Combine water and baking soda in a large bowl. Add papaya and soak for about 30 minutes.

  • Thoroughly rinse the papaya. Place in a large pot and add brown sugar, ginger, turmeric, star anise and orange zest. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Adjust heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is syrupy and the papaya is dark and slightly translucent, about 45 minutes.

  • Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. (Reserve the syrup for another use, if desired.) Spread the papaya on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper and let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.

To make ahead

Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.


Parchment or wax paper


Papaya is a large tropical fruit that can be eaten in both its unripe and ripe state. Unripe papaya, called green papaya, has a mild flavor and a denser flesh that can be sliced or shredded.

Nutrition Facts

1/3 cup
126 calories; sodium 100mg; carbohydrates 32g; dietary fiber 1g; sugars 30g; vitamin a iu 432IU.