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Papayas can be used as a food, a cooking aid, and in medicine. The stem and bark are also used in rope production. The ripe fruit is usually eaten raw, without skin or seeds. The unripe green fruit of papaya can be eaten cooked, usually in curries, salads and stews. It has a relatively high amount of pectin, which can be used to make jellies.

Green papaya fruit and the tree’s latex are both rich in an enzyme called papain, a protease which is useful in tenderizing meat and other proteins. Its ability to break down tough meat fibers was used for thousands of years by indigenous americans. It is included as a component in powdered meat tenderizers. Papaya is marketed in tablet form to remedy digestive problems.