These are some flowers blossoming on a male papaya (pawpaw) tree in a developing garden in Barbados. Although we all know a lot about papaya fruit, the benefits of its flowers (the blossoms that eventually produce the fruit) are less spoken about, although its curative properties and use as a herbal remedy I am certain have been known for centuries. Just like the fruit, the leaves and flowers of the papaya tree are both edible, and also have strong therapeutic properties and health benefits. Papaya flowers are high in antioxidants and said to help with diabetes and dengue fever. They are also rich in folic acid and vitamins A, C and E.
Cooking with papaya flowers
Papaya flowers are completely edible once boiled, or they can be very lightly pan fried and eaten as a side dish. I don’t know what they taste like because I haven’t actually tried them yet! But they are quite small and very delicate, so they might not go well with heavy seasonings, sauces or intensely flavored dishes. A light sprinkling of sea salt and / or nutmeg might go well with papaya flowers, and they could possibly be served with cream cheese, or fruit and vanilla ice cream, or as a garnish on a light, green vegetable salad, or perhaps with some plain jasmine or coconut rice.
In scent and skin care
Papaya flowers don’t appear to relinquish any scent, so this can set the creative juices running if you wanted to create a perfume inspired by papaya flowers, and you would only be limited by your imagination. In terms of skin care, besides eating the flowers and leaves, a papaya leaf or flower extract I believe would be a logical way of obtaining their nutrients which could then be infused into a facial oil or toner.
Some edible flower reading