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Chayote leaves are small to medium in size and thin, broad, and heart-shaped, approximately 10-25 centimeters wide. The vibrant green leaves have a sandpaper-like texture and have 3-5 pointed lobes with small thin tendrils attached near or at the base of the stem. Chayote leaves grow on a perennial climbing plant that has stems that can reach up to ten meters in length. The plant can also sprawl out over a large area on the ground and uses its leaves and tendrils to protect its fruit. Chayote leaves are crisp and juicy with a mild, sweet, and grassy flavor with mellow undertones of cucumber.
Chayote leaves are available year-round.
Chayote leaves, botanically classified as Sechium edule, are members of the Cucurbitaceae family along with squash, cucumber, and melon. The chayote plant has prolific growth habits and is commonly found growing on walls in backyards. The entire Chayote plant is edible including the roots, shoots, fruits, seeds, leaves, and flowers, and the leaves are used for culinary purposes and medicinally in Asia and Central and South America.
The whole chayote plant, including the fruit, stems, and leaves, contain a high amount of vitamin C, folate, and fiber.
Chayote leaves are best suited for cooked applications such as boiling, stir-frying, baking, steaming, and sautéing. They are commonly added to salads, soups, and chop suey. They can also be sautéed or stir-fried as a vegetable side dish or combined with other ingredients and made into dumplings. In Mexico, Chayote leaves are also served with mole and boiled chicken. Chayote leaves pair well with garlic, herbs such as mint, dill, and cilantro, meats such as pork, shrimp, and chicken, rice, yogurt, peanuts, lime, and cherry tomatoes. Chayote leaves will keep for a couple of days when stored in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer in the refrigerator.
Chayote leaves are traditionally used in the Americas and the Caribbean for its anti-inflammatory properties. In Belize, Jamaica, and the Yucatan peninsula, the leaves are boiled and made into a tea infusion to help reduce symptoms of coughs, colds, indigestion, kidney stones, and hypertension. The flexible vines of the Chayote plant are also used to weave baskets. In Asia, Chayote tendrils are often referred to as "dragon's whiskers" and are used in traditional stir-fries.
Chayote is an ancient crop that was first found wild in Central America and was believed to have been domesticated by the Aztecs. Chayote was then introduced to Europe around the mid-1700s by early explorers and spread to Africa, Asia, Australia, and reached the United States by the late 19th Century. Today Chayote leaves can be found in specialty markets in Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil, the United States, and Asia.
Recipes that include Chayote Leaves. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Lifestyle Inquirer||Chayote Leaves with Shrimps|
|Cooking Channel||Wild Shitake Mushroom and Choko Leaf Stir Fry|