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Prickly Chayote Squash
Inventory, 30 lbs : 2.93
This item was last sold on : 11/15/17
The Prickly chayote can first be recognized by its green-gold spear-like projections covering its surface, which act as a natural defense mechanism. The amount of spears will increase as the squash matures on the vine. Chayote squashes are also defined by their pear-like shape. The Prickly chayote's flesh is creamy white in color with a slightly crisp texture that becomes more succulent as it matures. Its central core contains a petite seed, which can be eaten, though most often is discarded. Prickly chayote squash's flavor is delicate, yet sweet, allowing it to absorb companion flavors easily when cooked. When peeling chayote squash it produces a juice that some people may have a topical sensitivity to, peeling the squash in water or cooking prior to peeling will render the skin irritant harmless.
Prickly chayote squash can be harvested year-round, with peak harvests in the fall and occasionally late spring.
Prickly chayote, botanically known as Sechium edule, is a climbing vine and member of the Cucurbitaceae family along with gourds, cucumbers and melons. Prickly chayote is one of several varieties of chayote, each type having a slightly different color, shape or in the case of Prickly chayote a signature coating of spines on its exterior. In the commercial marketplace it is more common today to find the smooth skinned variety chayote. In addition to the fruit, the leaves, shoots, flowers and even the roots of the Prickly chayote are all edible and utilized in many culinary ways. Prickly chayote roots are harvested after their second season in the ground and are often used as fodder for livestock.
Like all varieties of chayote squash Prickly chayote has high water content and can reach upwards of 93 percent of the squashes body weight. Prickly chayote is high in potassium, magnesium, folate, and contains vitamin C as well as B-6.
Seasoned chefs will note that Prickly chayote are preferred over smooth chayote for their sweeter flavor and firmer flesh. Prior to consuming the Prickly chayote should be peeled, this can be done when it is raw or cooked, though cooking first may aid in peeling by softening the squash. Prickly chayote squash can be eaten both raw and cooked. Use raw sliced thin or shredded in both green and chopped salads. Roast and add to soups, curries and stews or grill and serve as an accompaniment to main courses featuring pork and poultry. Prickly chayote squash can also be deep fried or used to make pickles and chutneys. Its texture and flavor pair well with chiles, tomatoes, curry, garlic, robust cheeses, cumin, legumes and nuts such as pistachios, pepitas and almonds. The blossoms of the Prickly chayote can also be utilized in a fashion similar to that of zucchini blossoms, stuffed with soft cheese and fried. After two years of growth the roots or tubers of the Prickly chayote can be consumed and are most commonly boiled, roasted or fried. To store keep Prickly chayote squash at room temperature, its flavor and texture are best if used within two weeks.
Prickly chayote squash's legacy is intrinsically linked to the culinary culture of Latin America. They were a staple in the diet of the Aztecs in central Mexico. Their name is Spanish and comes from the Nahuatl “chayotli” which means spiny gourd. Prickly chayote was grown in America during the 1850’s along the eastern seaboard as a home garden crop up until the Civil War which halted cultivation. When it was reintroduced in 1890 it was marketed for a while under the name vegetable pear, a nod to its unique shape and flavor. In Australia chayote squash were used combined with apple juice as a substitute for apple pie filling when apples became scarce during World War II.
Prickly chayote is native to Mexico and Central America and its first cultivation was during the Aztec Empire of pre-Columbian times. It is a subtropical perennial whose cultivation has spread throughout the tropics and into Northern America. In the eighteenth century it was grown extensively in Jamaica where it was known as chocho. In the commercial market it was exported around the same time from Jamaica to markets along the eastern seaboard in North America. In the United States today it is grown commercially in California, Florida and Louisiana though Central America continues to be the leader in commercial production of all varieties of chayote squash including Prickly chayote. The Prickly chayote prefers warm tropical to sub-tropical climates and requires 6 hours of full sunlight a day to flower and produce fruit.
Recipes that include Prickly Chayote Squash. One is easiest, three is harder.
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