PLANT FAMILY: Gourd
BOTANICAL NAME: Sechium Edule
HAWAIIAN NAME: Pipinola
OTHER COMMON NAMES: Chayote, Sayote, Choko, Chocho, Chuchu, Sousou, Chow Chow, Chou Chou, Soko, Sioka, Christophine, Mirliton, Buddha’s Palm, Vegetable Pear
PLANT RELATIVES: Squash, Pumpkin, Zucchini
EDIBLE PARTS: Leaves, Shoots, Flowers, Fruit, Seeds, Root
The chayote plant, sechium edule is native to Mexico and Central America. That being said, the chayote plant grows prolifically in warm climates around the world. Thus, I find it’s one of the easiest plants to grow in my garden on Maui. On average, abundant new fruits weigh a pound. However, chayote can be enjoyed at any stage from young to mature when it’s closer to two pounds.
Never tried chayote?Then let me take a stab at describing it. To begin with, its raw flesh is crisp and juicy. Think of jicama, but less fibrous and more tender. Or, imagine its texture as a cross between water chestnuts and cucumber. Then, you will have to think outside the box to grasp its taste. The taste is mild and lightly sweet, absorbing the seasonings it takes on. Zucchini might be the closest vegetable in flavor, but chayote has a much more user-friendly consistency when cooked. Unlike zucchini, which can quickly turn mushy, cooked chayote is soft and succulent but doesn’t fall apart.
The number of delicious ways chayote can be eaten is astounding. This is where I begin to get excited, and I have just started to explore the possibilities. So far I have made crunchy spiral salads, savory stir-frys, spicy curries, and soothing soups with chayote fruit. Why, I have even made unbelievable mock apple pie and refreshing, chayote-grapefruit sorbet.
Can you see how versatile this fruit is? There is even more when you consider other edible parts of the chayote plant. My Filipino garden neighbors, like many cultures in Asia, like to saute the shoots, tendrils, and greens. So, are you ready? Try a recipe from the blog here or create your own inspired dish. Happily, you can’t go wrong with chayote.