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chayote

Chayote

Pronounced [chah-YOH-teh], the chayote is another native Mexican plant and is a member of the squash family. It is also referred to as a "vegetable pear" or chcocho. In France the chayote is called a christophene. The flesh is quite crisp something like a water chestnut.  The chayote is seen in two forms, smooth and prickly.

 

 

Article by: Barbara Bowman


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History And Lore

prickly chayoteChayote (Sechium edule) was actually domesticated in Mexico and seen in South American until after the Spanish conquest. (Sophie Coe, America's First Cuisines). The starchy squash was a staple of the Aztecs. The name chayote is derived from the Nahuatl world chayotli. 


The squash is actually a member of the gourd family but it unusual given it has a single seed and it is a perennial (it can come back every year from the same plant)

The Mayans added chayote shoots (as a green) to beans and also ate the fruit and the starchy roots.


The chayote shown here is the prickly variety.

Buy And Store

Chayote have become popular in the U.S. and are found in many large markets. They are being cultivated in Florida, California, and Louisiana. They are very common in Latino grocery stores. Select firm, smooth, unwrinkled chayote.  Old chayote become very wrinkled and become dry and tough.  Chayote will keep refrigerated for many days but it is best to use as quickly as possible.

Medicinal Uses

Medicinal uses of the chayote included a tea made of the leaves is reported to dissolve kidney stones as well as a treatment for arteriosclerosis and hypertension.

Culinary Uses

The chayote can be eaten raw in salads, or stuffed and baked.  Other preparations include mashing, pickling, frying or boiling. The plain squash tends to be bland and benefits from "aggressive" seasoning.

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pittbull1369

8/8/2011
In south Louisiana they are called Meliton

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Chayote Recipes

Grow Your Own

The Chayote likes a warm climate and is a very aggressive vine. It is perfect in a sunny spot where it can climb on a fence or trellis. The fruits are heavy and need some support.

To start a plant, purchase a chayote from the store and try to find one with a "bud" on the end. You can just sit the chayote in a warm window (not direct hot sun) and it will begin to wrinkle and eventually produce a bud. The chayote can then be placed in some sandy soil (partially covered). Once the plant shows vigorous growth it can be transplanted outside. Water as you would any squash.

Substitutions

You can substitute most any summer squash in a recipe that calls for chayote.

Chayote Nutrition

1 cup, cubed
Calories0.256
Total fat (g).004 
Saturated fat (g)0
Monounsaturated fat (g)0
Polyunsaturated fat (g)0
Dietary fiber (g)0.112
Protein (g)0.003
Carbohydrate (g)0.060
Cholesterol (mg)0
Sodium (mg)0.344
Vitamin C    0.029

Credits & Additional Reading

Purdue University - by R. Lira Saade (National Herbarium of Mexico, Mexico City)

Mexican, Healthy Ways with a Favorite Cuisine

Authentic Mexican : Regional Cooking...by Rick and Deann Bayless