Also known as Mirliton, Vegetable Pear, Christophene, Custard Marrow, Choko and many other names.
Chayote (Chy-o-tay) is a pale or dark green or white pear-shaped fruit with a large central seed, like avocado, and a fairly thick deeply ridged skin. The fruit varies in size and shape and may be round, smooth or hairy and is normally eaten when immature and before the seed has enlarged and matured.
Unlike other gourd vines, chayote is a perennial plant that develops large starchy tubers which are also edible. (The Penguin Companion to Food).
Chayote belongs to the pumpkin family, Cucurbitaceae, together with squashes melons and cucumbers. It’s classified as a summer squash.
What does it taste like?
The flesh has a firmer more agreeable texture than squash. It can vary in flavour, from bland or starchy to sweetish, depending on the cultivar. It has also been described as insipid and watery (The Penguin Companion to Food)
How to Prepare Chayote
Unless you buy a very small one, the skin is quite tough. Peel it with a vegetable peeler and use a sharp paring knife to remove the skin form the deep ridges. It’s advisable to peel it under cold running water because it exudes a sticky liquid that may burn or even numb the skin .(The Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition).
Halve the chayote and remove the seed. You can cook the seed with the flesh. It has a pleasant almond like flavour and tastes somewhere between a lima bean and an almond. .
How to cook chayote
Chayote requires a longer cooking time than other summer squashes. You can cook it whole then slip off the skin after cooking (30-40 minutes) or cut it into slices and boil it (6-10 minutes). Although generally discarded, the seed has a nutty flavour and may be cooked and eaten as part of the fruit.
Chayote can be cut in half and stuffed, like bell pepper or zucchini and baked in the oven, or can also be boiled in soups or stews.
The young leaves and shoots may be used as a green vegetable.
The chayote plant
Chayote is a plant of the tropics and subtropics but can also be grown as an annual crop in areas of the temperate zone that can offer a growing season of at least 6 months.
It’s a perennial that develops large starchy and edible tubers.
The young shoots can be harvested and used as green vegetables.
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