Unripe papaya contains an enzyme called papain. Even the leaves of the papaya tree contains this enzyme. Papain works as a meat tenderizer by breaking down the connective tissues of the meat that it comes into contact with. This works on all types of meat such as chicken, beef, lamb, and pork. So how does it work? It’s actually quite simple to do if you have a couple common kitchen utensils.
To prepare a meat tenderizer using green papaya, you first take a whole green papaya and peel the skin of the papaya up to about 1⁄4 inch deep. You will know you have peeled deep enough when the white flesh of the papaya is exposed. Cut the papaya in half then take a spoon and scoop out the premature seeds, if any are present. Now chop the papaya into small cubes and mash it into a paste using a sturdy fork or spoon. A food processor would also work well. Now add 1⁄4 teaspoon of salt for every 2 tablespoons of the papaya paste. Now your green papaya meat tenderizer is prepared.
Use 2 tablespoons of the green papaya meat tenderizer paste for every pound of meat. Apply the paste to the surface of the meat. Briefly massage the paste into the meat. You will need to activate the papain enzymes first before the meat tenderizer will be effective. To activate the enzymes, heat the meat to at least 140 °F, but no higher than 160 °F. Once the enzyme has been activated, proceed with your food preparation as planned.
This trick can come in handy in a pinch if you have an green papaya available and a tough cut of meat to cook. Just remember that the enzyme in the papaya that works as the meat tenderizer needs to be activated before it will work. If done correctly, this is an effective method for tenderizing meats. Enjoy.