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Heart Of Palm Salad
heart of palm: photo by gourmetsleuth

Heart Of Palm

Heart of palm is the inner edible portion of the growing tip of the peach palm bactris gasipaes . The plant originated from Central and South America and is still grown today where the plant has many uses besides the palm heart.

Article by: Barbara Bowman


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Most of the production of hearts of palm is done in South America and for the most part the product is available in tins or jars but rarely fresh. But there is good news for heart of palm lovers. Hawaiian farmers are producing fresh heart of palm and making it available to professional and home chefs.

Sustainable Agriculture

Heart of palm as has always been rather expensive. Much of the cost is due to the fact that when the product is harvested the trees are destroyed. Replanting of trees is costly and time consuming.

Hawaiian Heart Of Palm

Thanks to Hawaii's Wailea Agricultural Group we are now seeing fresh heart of palm in restaurants, some specialty stores and even a couple of online retailers.

Hawaiian production has taken a different approach. Rather than constant crop destruction Hawaiian growers only harvest the new shoots of the palm that come up from the base of the plant. This method does not destroy the tree which increases the production cycle and helps to keep the costs down.

Uses

Most commonly the fresh heart of palm is used in salads and appetizers (see recipe suggestions). This low calorie food (about 50 calories for 3/4 cup of slices) also offers a gram of fiber per serving and a whopping 338mg of potassium (about the same as 1 banana).

Raw - Eat fresh heart of palm as a snack and of course sliced or chopped and added to salads or other fresh appetizers. In the salad shown below the chef combined hearty slices as well as tiny cubes for an attractive (and tasty) presentation.

Cooked - Heart of palm can be steamed, braised, sautéed, boiled or stir-fried or baked

Handling and Storage

Fresh heart of palm should be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated immediately upon receiving. With proper storage your product can be stored for about 2 weeks.

Before Using
Remove the stem's outer sheath by slicing it lengthwise with a sharp knife. The center heart section will pop out. Discard the sheath.

If you are going to store the stems then it is best to leave them in their protective outer sheath.

Different cuts from the plant dictate the best preparation method. Here are some suggestions from Wailea Agricultural Group:

Heart - Slice thin and use raw in salads or simple appetizers.

Stem - Steam the stem in its outer sheath. Cooking time will vary, depending on the size of the stem. The larger Heart of Palm base section is also delicious when steamed until tender.

Featured Recipe

Baked Heart of Palm
from Chef Kimberley Foote from Ship To Shore

Serves: 6

I N G R E D I E N T S
1 1/2 lbs fresh heart of palm, washed
1 egg, beaten
Parsley
Paprika
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Dark green lettuce leaves (for serving)

I N S T R U C T I O N S
Preheat oven to 400F degrees

Slice large pieces in halves or thirds lengthwise. Dip each piece in beaten egg, then in bread crumbs. Place in a small baking pan and pour melted butter over them.

Bake 10 minutes at 400.

To serve, place a layer of dark lettuce on a plate. Arrange hearts of Palm. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley.

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Heart Of Palm Recipes

Wailea Agricultural Group

Has been operating on the Big Island of Hawaii since 1994 and is the largest fresh Hawaiian Heart of Palm grower in America. Production is based on sustainable agriculture techniques.  The fresh Hawaiian Heart of Palm is USDA-compliant and can ship anywhere within the US.  Visit the Wailea Agricultural Group for more information and recipes.

Where To Buy Fresh Heart Of Palm

Direct from growers -
Wailea Agricultural Group
Phone: (808) 963-6360

Hamakua Farms -  Sells to chefs as well as gourmets. 
P.O. Box 14, Ninole, Hawaii
(808) 962-6013.

Learn More

Heart-of-Palm in Hawaii: From Introduction to Market - article discusses the Hawaiian heart of palm industry.

Heart Of Palm Nutrition

100 grams
Calories50 
Total fat (g)2.1
Saturated fat (g)0
Monounsaturated fat (g)0
Polyunsaturated fat (g)0
Dietary fiber (g)1
Protein (g)2.3
Carbohydrate (g)5.6 
Cholesterol (mg)0
Sodium (mg)1.3
Potassium (mg)338

Author: B. Bowman
First Posted:  April 15, 2008
Updated  Feb 10, 2012