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Chayote leaves are produced from a perennial climbing plant that has stems that can reach up to 10 meters in length. The leaves have a range of 3 to 5 angular lobes that have small thin tendrils attached near or at the base of the stem. Chayote leaves are a member of the Cucurbitaceae family along with squash, cucumber and melon. The Chayote leaf has a sandpaper-like texture and vivid green color. When fresh the Chayote leaf offers a grassy flavor with mellow undertones of cucumber. The leaf is often added to green salads or Asian stir-fries.
Chayote leaves are available year-round.
Chayote (Sechium edule) is a fast-growing perennial plant whose large leaves, slender tendrils and branches form a canopy over the fruit. The flesh of the chayote is commonly used, but its seeds, shoots and leaves are all edible. Chayote leaves are seen in recipes in Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines and India where they may be paired with garlic, shrimp and pork, and may feature in soups. Chayote leaves are used as medicinal herbs and pot-herbs in the Latin Americas.
The whole Chayote plant, including the fruit, stems and leaves, contain multiple nutrients, notably a high amount of vitamin C and fiber.
Chayote leaves are found in Asian stir-fries and soups. They pair well with garlic, as well as pork and shrimp. In Latin America, Chayote leaves are used as medicinal herbs.
Chayote leaves are used medicinally in Latin America. In Belize, the leaves feature in remedies for coughs and colds. In Jamaica and the Yucutan peninsula, where the flexible vines are used to weave baskets, Chayote leaves are used in tea infusions to help with conditions such as indigestion, kidney stones and hypertension. Chayote leaves feature in Asian cooking, notably in Taiwan where the plant's tendrils, referred to as "dragon's whiskers", are used in a traditional stir-fried dish.
Chayote is an ancient crop, but there is no archaeological evidence to indicate how long Chayote has been cultivated. It was first found wild in Central America, and is likely to have been domesticated by the Aztecs. Chayote was introduced to Europe around the mid-1700s. It spread to Africa, Asia and Australia, and reached the United States by the late 19th Century.