Young Peach Palm
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Young Peach palms are harvested for their tender edible hearts when only a few meters tall, but as a mature tree they can reach heights of 20 meters. Multiple tree stems grow in clusters from a single root system. Under the coarse bark, which is actually the hardened outer sheaths of the palm’s leaves, is the palm heart also called the palmetto. It is composed of the tender unexpanded leaves that lie just above the bulbous tip of the root structure called the meristem. The hearts are creamy white with tinges of yellow and pink. They are crisp and succulent with flavors of coconut, artichoke and sweet corn.
Young Peach Palm hearts are available year-round.
Peach palm is a variety of caespitose palm which means that it grows in dense clusters. It is botanically classified as Bactris gasipaes and is also commonly referred to as peyibaye, but usually only when referencing the tree’s fruits rather than its heart. Peach palm trees grow surprisingly quickly, offering edible hearts ready for harvest in roughly one year.
Peach palm hearts are low in fat and cholesterol free. They are a good source of potassium, iron, zinc and vitamins B2, B6 and C.
Peach palm hearts are an exceptionally rare find in their fresh state, as they are usually canned. They are best used in savory raw applications such as in salads or as a relish, but they may also be grilled, fried, baked or sautéed. Their hearty texture and rich flavor make them an excellent stand-in for meat in vegetarian cooking. Use them as an ingredient for vegan tacos or dredge them in bread crumbs and pan fry for a seafood-free alternative to crab-cakes. Hearts of the Peach palm compliment avocado, asparagus, artichokes, cucumber, corn, tomato, mango, coconut, jalapeno, citrus, cilantro, basil, parsley, almonds, macadamia nuts and seafood.
The Peach palm was an important plant for numerous tribes of lower Central America and the humid tropics of South America, scattered across the basins of the Cauca, Magdalena, San Juan, Orinoco and Amazon. The fruits, hearts and sap were used for food and the wood for weapons, bows, arrows, spears and construction due to its great strength and elasticity.
The Peach palm is native to Columbia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil. Seeds that date from 2300 to 1700 BC found in Costa Rica are assumed to have been introduced by early native tribes for cultivation. Today Peach palms have been naturalized in temperate climates world-wide, and have been a modern commercial crop since 1978. Costa Rica leads in canned Peach palm heart commercial production. The trees thrive in well drained soils of most physical conditions even poor quality. The seeds are often carried for thousands of miles over water and land by birds, rodents and other mammals.
Recipes that include Young Peach Palm. One is easiest, three is harder.
|86 Lemons||Heats of Palm and Avocado Salad|