Chayote, A delicious, copious producer from the new world.

Chayote

Sechium edule

Native to Mexico this incredible vine produces a green fruit (sometimes prickly and sometimes smooth, depending on the variety) which have a flavor that is nutty and squash like, though closer to having a water chestnut flavor than squash. Chayote is eaten all over the world now, especially in Asia. The fruits are eaten raw, cooked or pickled in many ways. The seeds are also edible, most often after cooking. Also the young shoots are clipped for eating.

Heirloom varieties: grab them if you ever see them.

Prickly Chayote

There are many varieties and wild relatives of chayote but they are difficult to get a hold of because this is a tropical fruit and the seeds don’t store. If you find a gourmet or heirloom variety, SNAG IT and grow it. I will explain how: You usually plant the entire fruit into the ground, about 4 inches deep. Plant it fat end down and at an angle so that the stem end is just level with the soil surface. Start chayote in March with a good amount of compost and manure.

Give them lots of room, like on a fence or trellis.

Chayote loves the heat, so long as it is watered. It is not otherwise picky though you can feed compost tea, fish emulsion or kelp once in a while. Just watch that your feeding is not too nitrogen heavy or your plant will grow like madness and not fruit. Also, too much shade can hinder fruit development, so make sure your plant has lots of full sun to grow in. And they WILL grow.

If you end up with too many, make chayote pickles.

This guy tells you some good information, from a cook’s perspective.

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