Papaya Seed Infusion
Papayas are some pretty amazing fruits that actually have multiple ingredients for cooks and bartenders to use!
A single papaya contains:
3. and Seeds
Most people just eat the fruit and toss away the skins and seeds, but what they don't realize is that they're throwing away the very tasty and extremely nutritious parts of the fruit.
Today we are going to take a look at one of these parts and examine how to use it in our drinks.
The seeds have loads of nutritional benefits ranging from antioxidants to monosaturated fatty acids, and fiber just to name a few.
They can be eaten in their fresh form, but are easier to use in food and cocktails once they are dried.
Drying them removes their gelatinous exterior while also changing their flavor profile.
When eaten fresh, they resemble peppercorns with a citrusy element to them. They also carry some heat, but as opposed to the spiciness found in black peppercorns, they actually have a similar numbing effect similar to Szechuan pepper. It is not nearly as powerful as China's favorite peppercorn though.
Although these flavors are amazing, they are very hard to extract when they are in their fresh form. That's why it's better to dry them out.
When dried, the seeds start to take on more toasty and nutty flavors like peppercorn and cocoa.
Just like black peppercorns, using spices in cocktails is great for adding subtle tertiary notes that simply complement the other ingredients around them.
Even though these flavors are subtle, infusing them with a spirit will definitely add texture, earthiness, and depth to your cocktails.
The papaya seeds work great to add some savory and umami elements to a drink that might be missing something.
Once dried, they need to be crushed and toasted to unleash their flavors followed by being infused in some kind of alcohol or spirit to extract the oils locked away.
What You Will Need
The Ingredients and items you will need for this recipe are the following:
Tequila Plata or Mezcal Joven (you can use other white spirits, but I find that these work best)
Grinder or Muddler
Oven or Dehydrator
Begin by preheating your oven at 100°C with the fan on. If you have a dehydrator use that instead.
Cut open your papaya if you bought a whole one. If you don't need a whole one, you can typically find the halved ones in most grocery stores.
Scoop out your seeds using a spoon and transfer them to the mesh filter. You'll notice there will be still lots of bits of pulp stuck to the seeds.
Once in the filter, run them over water and separate any pieces of pulp using your fingers.
You don't need to remove every single piece of pulp. Just try to make sure that no big pieces of pulp are still sticking around.
Once you've removed all of the big pieces of pulp, spread them out in a pan and stick them in your oven or dehydrator.
(In this picture the reflection from the light on the pan makes them seem white, but they are still colored black).
Now all you have to do is wait. The process of drying them out should take 4 to 5 hours, so be patient!
As you can see in this picture, the papaya seeds are as black as peppercorns.
Once dried it's time to grind them up.
Grind & Toast
I'm using a simple muddler, but if you have a mortar & pestle or a spice grinder you can use that as well!
Once ground up, give them just a light 3-minute toast on a frying pan at high heat. You want the oils encased in these seeds to release from the heat. This will make your infusion work faster and more efficiently.
Infuse & Filter
For every barspoon of toasted papaya seeds, pour 90ml of Tequila or Mezcal Joven.
You'll notice the color of your spirit turning light brown almost resembling a reposado.
Now you can let the infusion sit somewhere between 1 and 2 days. If you want to accelerate the infusion you can sustainably sous vide the jar in hot (but not simmering) water for 2 hours.
If you have a thermometer, check to make sure that the temperature of your water stays somewhere between 65 and 70°C.
If you chose to sous vide your infusion, do not open it up! Let your jar cool down to at least room temperature.
Open it up and pour everything through a coffee filter to separate the agave spirit with the toasted seeds.
Your spirit should be a dark shade of brown, rich, earthy with a bit of spice and savory flavors to it.
Now that you have your Infused Papaya Seed Tequila or Mezcal.
Make sure to use it in your Margaritas and Palomas! Use it in cocktails where reposados would usually work well in.
Try the recipe of a Tommy's Margarita to see how it fares!
60ml Papaya Seed Tequila/Mezcal
30ml Lime Juice
20ml Agave Syrup
Muddled Cilantro (1 stem with leaves)
Garnish: Cilantro Leaf
Bright, refreshing with a bit of added spice, umami, and earthiness to it!
Enjoy one of the best classics in the world with a simple twist.