When a papaya is ripe, its skin turns yellow-orange, and when gently pressed it yields slightly to the pressure. However, the papaya should not be overly mushy. It is normal for a ripe papaya to have browned spots on it, signalling its ripeness.
If a ripe papaya is not eaten immediately, it can be refrigerated for several days. However, an unripe papaya should not be placed in the refrigerator, as it doesn't ripen when chilled. When left on the counter, an unripe papaya typically takes one to three days to ripen. To speed up the process, it can be placed in a paper bag on the counter.