Chayote: Wikis

  
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chayote
Chouchous on sale in Réunion Island
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Violales
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Genus: Sechium
Species: S. edule
Binomial name
Sechium edule
(Jacq.) Swartz, 1800

The chayote (Sechium edule), also known as chuchu, sayote, tayota, choko, chocho, chow-chow, christophene, mirliton, vegetable pear, and pear squash is an edible plant that belongs to the gourd family Cucurbitaceae along with melons, cucumbers and squash.

The chayote fruit is used in both raw and cooked forms. When cooked, chayote is usually handled like summer squash, it is generally lightly cooked to retain the crisp flavor. Raw chayote may be added to salads or salsas, and it is often marinated with lemon or lime juice. It can also be eaten straight, although the bland flavor makes this a dubious endeavor. Whether raw or cooked, chayote is a good source of amino acids and vitamin C.

The tubers of the plant are eaten like potatoes and other root vegetables. In addition, the shoots and leaves can be consumed, and they are often used in salads and stir fries, especially in Asia. Like other members of the gourd family such as cucumbers, melons, and squash, chayote can get quite sprawling, and it should only be planted if there is plenty of room in the garden. The roots are also highly susceptible to rot, especially in containers, and the plant in general is finicky to grow.

The word for chayote is Spanish, borrowed from the Nahuatl word chayotli. Chayote was one of the many foods introduced to Europe by early explorers, who brought back a wide assortment of botanical samples. The age of conquest also spread the plant south from Mexico, ultimately causing it to be integrated into the cuisine of many other Latin American nations.

Chayote is native to Central America where it is a very important ingredient to the diet. Other warm regions around the globe have been successful in cultivating it as well. Main growing regions are Costa Rica and Veracruz, Mexico. Costa Rican chayotes are predominantly exported to the European Union whereas Veracruz is the main exporter of chayotes to the United States.

Contents

Taxonomy

The plant was first recorded by modern botanists in P.Browne's 1756 work.[1] In 1763 it was classified by Jacquin as Sicyos edulus and by Adanson as Chocho edulus. Swartz included it in 1800 in its current genus Sechium.

Description

Chayote inside

In the most common variety, the fruit is roughly pear shaped, somewhat flattened and with coarse wrinkles, ranging from 10 to 20 cm in length. It looks like a green pear and it has a thin green skin fused with the white flesh, and a single large flattened pit. The flesh has a fairly bland taste, and a texture described as a cross between a potato and a cucumber. Although generally discarded, the seed has a nutty flavour[citation needed] and may be eaten as part of the fruit.

Chayote vine can be grown on the ground, but it is a climbing plant that will grow onto anything and can easily rise as high as 12 meters when it can reach a tree or house. Its leaves are heart-shaped, 10–25 cm wide and with tendrils on the stem. The flowers are cream-colored or somewhat green that come out beneath a leaf or branch. If the plant is male, the flowers will show in clusters. The plant’s fruit is light green and elongated with deep ridges lengthwise.

Culinary and medicinal uses

Ichintal (Chayote Root)

Although most people are familiar only with the fruit, the root, stem, seeds, and leaves are all edible.

Phat yot sayongte: Thai for stir-fried chayote shoots

The fruit does not need to be peeled and can be eaten raw in salads. Cooked or raw, it has a very mild flavor by itself, and is commonly served with seasonings (e.g., salt, butter and pepper in Australia) or in a dish with other vegetables and/or flavorings. It can also be boiled, stuffed, mashed, baked, fried, or pickled in escabeche sauce. Both fruit and seed are rich in amino acids and vitamin C.[2] Fresh green fruit are firm and without brown spots or signs of sprouting. Smaller ones are more tender.

The tuberous part of the root is starchy and eaten like a yam (can be fried). It can be used as pig or cattle fodder as well as being eaten by humans.

The leaves and fruit have diuretic, cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory properties, and a tea made from the leaves has been used in the treatment of arteriosclerosis and hypertension, and to dissolve kidney stones.[2]

In Taiwan, chayotes are widely planted for their shoots, known as lóng xü cài (龍鬚菜, literally "dragon-whisker vegetable"). Along with the young leaves, the shoot is a commonly consumed vegetable in the region.

In Thai cuisine, the plant is known as sayongte (Thai: ซายองเต้) or fak maeo (Thai: ฟักแม้ว, literally meaning "Miao melon"). It grows mainly in the mountains of northern Thailand. The young shoots and greens are often eaten stir-fried or in certain soups.

Many cultures have found that if the harvest of chayote is abundant, it is cheaper to use it as food for pigs or cattle than the usual commercial feed.

Myths

  • In Australia, where it is called choko, a persistent rumour has existed that McDonald's Apple Pies were made of chokos, not apples. This eventually led McDonald's to emphasise the fact that real apples are used in their pies. This legend was based on an earlier belief that tinned pears were often disguised chokos. A possible explanation for the rumour is that there are a number of recipes extant in Australia, that advise chokos can be used in part replacement of canned apples to make the fruit go farther, in making apple pies. This likely arose because of shortages of canned fruit in the years following World War Two, coupled with the fact apples do not grow in many tropical and sub-tropical parts of Australia and were therefore difficult to obtain.
  • Due to its purported cell-regenerative properties, it is believed as a contemporary legend that this fruit caused the mummification of people from the Colombian town of San Bernardo who extensively consumed it. The very well preserved skin and flesh can be seen in the mummies today.[citation needed]

Alternative names

Chayote (English pronunciation: /tʃаɪˈoʊtiː/  ( listen)) is the Spanish name of the plant, from Nahuatl: hitzayotli (pronounced [itsaˈjotɬi]). It is used in many parts of Spanish-speaking Latin America and in the US. Worldwide, it is known by many other names:

Africa

America

Asia

Europe

Oceania

Other places

  • English-speaking countries: chouchou, chocho, cho-cho, mango squash, vegetable pear[citation needed][3]

Gallery

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Browne, Patrick (1756), Civil and Natural History of Jamaica, http://www.brunias.com/bookinfo.html#ref341, retrieved 2007-03-19 
  2. ^ a b Rafael Lira Saade. 1996 p.29
  3. ^ Gourmet Sleuth

References

  • Rafael Lira Saade. 1996. Chayote Sechium edule (Jacq.) Sw. Promoting the conservation and use of underutilized and neglected crops. 8. Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research, Gatersleben/International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Rome, Italy. ISBN 92-9043-298-5 available in pdf format

External links


Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010
(Redirected to chayote article)

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

Etymology

From Nahuatl chayotl.

Noun

Wikipedia-logo.png
Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia

chayote

  1. A tropical American perennial herbaceous vine having tendrils, tuberous roots, and a green, pear-shaped fruit cooked as a vegetable.
  2. The fruit of this plant.

Scientific names

  • Sechium edule

Translations








Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message