Dec 122014
 

The Internet Archive at Archive.org features an old book, The Chayote: A Tropical Vegetable, that details the characteristics and properties of the tropical vine and squash native to Mexico and the Caribbean, citing documentation by Australians, Spaniards, and other Europeans who arrived in the New World during the early colonial era.

Sechium chayote espinas

By hillary h (Flickr: chayote espinas) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons, href=”http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ASechium_chayote_espinas.jpg

The book mentions that one of the first European references to the chayote was by Francisco Hernandez, a Spaniard who spent seven years in Mexico during the mid-sixteenth century and wrote extensively about his time there. He described the chayote as a “plant bearing fruit like hedgehogs.”

The chayote in Mexico is planted in February and harvested from August through October. The creeper, which likes to be guided along fences or trellises rather than extending on the ground, is largely free of disease. Although the plants thrive in well-drained soil and in a warm climate, they will also grow relatively well in colder and more harsh conditions.

The roots are edible and the vines and leaves can be used for fodder; some even claim that the young shoots can be used as a substitute for asparagus.  The tougher vine stems have also been used for basketry and weaving. The flowers, according to this book, are great bee attractors, providing lots of nectar for the insects.

The book goes into great detail about the plant, its history, its cultivation, and its uses, and it includes several recipes. It also features a number of photographic plates of the fruits, seeds, leaves, and flowers of the several varieties that exist.

The Chayote: A Tropical Vegetable
Author: Cook, Orator Fuller, 1867; The Internet Archive at http://www.archive.org


More chayote resources and information:

How to Prepare Chayote from The Latin Kitchen: http://thelatinkitchen.com/entertaining-how/technique/how-prepare-chayote. Tips on how to choose, peel, seed, and cut chayote for eating raw, baking, steaming, pureeing, or boiling.

Growing Chayote from Organic Gardening at Mother Earth News: http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/growing-chayote-zmaz80ndzraw.aspx#axzz3LdGqfRnA. How to cultivate the chayote vine in tropical and sub-tropical climates of the world.

The Chayote: information on the different chayote varieties and characteristics of each, from Botanical Online: http://www.botanical-online.com/english/chayote_food.htm


 

 

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