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White Chayote Squash
Inventory, lb : 0
White chayote is small to medium in size, averaging 10-20 centimeters in length and is pear-shaped with deep indentations or puckers that meet at the flower end. White chayote predominantly has firm, thin, and smooth white-yellow skin with subtle creasing, but some varieties may also have spines scattered across the skin, similar to that of the prickly chayote. The creamy white flesh is crisp, and the central core contains one small, ovoid, flat, edible, light tan seed. White chayote squash is crunchy and mild with a sweet and light flavor similar to a cucumber, turnip, and zucchini. In addition to the fruit, the leaves, shoots, flowers, and roots of the White chayote are also edible and are utilized in culinary applications.
White chayote squash is available in limited supply year-round, with peak season in the fall and occasionally in the late spring.
White chayote squash, botanically classified as Sechium edule, is a perennial, tropical fruit that grows on prolific climbing vines and is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family along with melon, cucumbers, and gourds. The White chayote variety is extremely rare and is thought to be the result of a recessive gene or mutation. Though not a commercially successful variety, White chayote squash has a similar flavor to the common green chayote and is used in a wide variety of culinary preparations as a healthy and filling carrier to soak up accompanying ingredients.
White chayote squash contains dietary fiber, B-complex folates, vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants.
White chayote is best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as grilling, sautéing, boiling, or stir-frying and can be utilized as a substitute for potatoes, cucumbers, and squash. Raw chayote can be shredded or sliced thin and added to salads and slaws, but care should be taken when preparing the fruit raw as the squash secretes a sticky substance that is nontoxic but may cause irritation to the skin when sliced. White chayote can also be mixed into sauces, soups, curries, and gumbos, cut in half and stuffed with seafood or vegetables, or used in baked goods such as tarts and pudding. White chayote pairs well with melon, chile peppers, tomatoes, soft and hard cheeses, garlic, onions, nuts such as almonds, pistachios, and pepitas, coriander, cumin, cilantro, oregano, coconut milk, butter, pork, shellfish, bacon, and poultry. White chayote squash will keep up to four weeks when wrapped in a paper towel, placed in a plastic bag, and stored in the refrigerator.
In the United States, the White chayote is also known as Mirliton and was renamed the Ishreal Thibodeaux Mirliton in 2013. It was given this name in honor of Ishreal Thibodeaux, a man in Louisiana who successfully grew the rare variety for many years and worked hard to revitalize the growth of it and other chayote varieties in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Thibodeaux also offered up some of his seeds for adoption to help spread the cultivation of the White chayote. Today White chayote is a popular variety in Puerto Rico and is commonly breaded, stuffed, or fried.
Chayote is native to Central America and Mexico and was first cultivated during the time of the Aztec Empire. Though there is no definitive evidence, it is believed that the White chayote variety, as well as the green and prickly, all share the same historical origins. Chayote was then spread to South America, the Antilles, Europe, and Africa in the eighteenth century and to the United States in the nineteenth century. In the United States, specifically in the deep south prior to the 1900’s, there were numerous types of chayote squash grown including White chayote. The Civil War devastated much of chayote production in the South, and though attempts were made to revitalize cultivation, the efforts largely failed except in Louisiana where it has long been a staple in home gardens and an important ingredient in American cookery. Today White chayote can be found at specialty grocers and farmers markets in select regions of the United States, Central Mexico, South America, Europe, and Asia.
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