Prickly Chayote Squash
Inventory, 30 lbs : 0
This item was last sold on : 09/07/12
Prickly chayote squash is available during late summer and into early fall.
Prickly chayote, botanical name Sechium edule, is a climbing vine and member of the Cucurbutaceae family along with gourds, cucumbers and melons. The Prickly chayote, however, belongs to a different section within this family and one of the distinguishing factors is that unlike the aforementioned Cucurbita plants, the Prickly chayote is a single-seed bearing fruit. 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.
The Prickly chayote can first be recognized by its green-gold spear-like projections covering its surface, which act as a natural defense mechanism. It is also defined by its pear-like shape. The Prickly chayote's flesh is creamy white, semi-crisp and succulent to cottony as it matures. Its central core contains a small underdeveloped seed, which can be eaten, though most often are simply discarded. Prickly chayote squash's flavor is delicate, yet sweet, allowing it to absorb companion flavors easily when cooked.
Seasoned cooks will note that Prickly chayote are preferred over smooth chayote for their sweeter and firmer flesh. Prickly chayote squash can be eaten both raw and cooked. Its textural qualities play center stage in its culinary uses. Use raw sliced thin or shredded in both green and chopped salads. Roast and add to soups and stews or grill and serve as an accompaniment to main courses featuring pork and poultry. Its texture and flavor pair well with chiles, tomatoes, curry, garlic, robust cheeses, cumin, legumes and nuts such as pistachios, pepitas and almonds. Beyond the fruit, the tendrils and shoots can be added to salads or used as a wilting green and the flowers stuffed and/or fried similar to zucchini flowers. The seeds of the Prickly chayote are dried then toasted and the roots are stored for two years prior to boiling and frying.
Prickly chayote squash's legacy is intrinsically linked to the culinary culture of Latin Americas. They were a staple in the diet of the Aztecs in central Mexico. Early Spanish conquistadors adopted the influence of Prickly chayote, among other new world ingredients, into their cuisines as well.
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. It does thrive in perfectly tropical climates, though, unlike most garden vegetable Cucurbita, which are also classified as subtropical but find themselves thriving in hot arid climates. Prickly chayote is known as the most prominent flower producing member of the Cucurbutaceae family, producing numerous flowers per branch while also experiencing long blooming seasons. These flowers are rich in honey, making them a viable source for bees and beekeepers in bee pasture rich regions.
Recipes that include Prickly Chayote Squash. One is easiest, three is harder.
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