Papaya candy (Cape Verde)

Cape Verde is an archipelago of ten volcanic islands located near the coast of West Africa. They were uninhabited until the Portuguese colonization in the 15th century and later served as an important hub in the slave trade because of their location. Now it houses about 500,000 people, mostly of creole origin. Cape Verde is a fairly poor country, but its society is doing well and the life expectancy is a pretty impressive 70/75 years. It is also becoming more popular as a tourist destination. The climate is pleasantly warm (but not too hot) all year, with very little rain except for the autumn.

The Cape Verdeans eat many of the same foods as those in South America, such as corn, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, bananas, beans, hot peppers and especially corn, which is enjoyed in many forms both fresh and dried. The national dish cachupa contains hominy, beans and often fish or meat. Pork, dried fish and other seafood, cheese, rice, couscous, kale, cabbage, cassava, coconut and tropical fruit like mango, papaya and melons are also used in many dishes. Spices include parsley, bay leaf, cilantro and garlic.

This recipe caught my attention after I had scored four papayas for one euros (alas, three of them rotted before getting close to ripening, as often happens with exotic fruit). It was a bit on the vague side, not mentioning roughly how long the mixture needs to be cooked to crystallize (I think I cooked it for like 20 minutes?). A very similar recipe was posted elsewhere, but it was even more vague.

My results were a bit toffee-like in texture, not sure if it was supposed to be soft or hard candy. The lemon zest was probably a stronger flavour than the papaya. Nothing terribly exciting (or photogenic…), but it could have been that it was supposed to turn out different.

Papaya candy

Papaya candy

1 lb/450 g papaya
0.75 lb/340 g sugar (I used a combination of white sugar and some light brown sugar)
grated zest of 1 lemon

Peel the papaya and slice it into thin strips. Cook with the sugar on low heat until the sugar dissolves. Cook for 10 more minutes, then remove from the heat and let cool for 30 minutes.

Cook on medium heat until the sugar begins to crystallize from the mixture. Cook for 2 more minutes then remove from the heat. Let cool slightly, then take spoonfuls and and shape into cones or other shapes on a lightly-oiled surface. Cool completely before serving.

3 Responses to “Papaya candy (Cape Verde)”

  1. 1

    Kuulostaa aika hyvältä karkilta! Täällä on vielä papaijojen aika,joten tuota voisi joskus kokeilla..

  2. 2

    Papaya is one of my favorite tropical fruits! I’ve never thought to make candy from it, but it sounds tasty. :)

  3. 3

    Similar candied fruit made out of ginger and pineapple strips is one of my favorite holiday gifts (candied fruit is traditionally exchanged for Tet, Vietnamese New Year). It is soft, chewy and stretchy, toffee like as you say. I’ve never heard of candied papaya, though, will have to give it a try.

    Love the expansive scope of your blog!

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