Chayote squash have been around for a long time, yet they are growing in popularity in America. If you’re interesting in learning what they are, how to buy and store them, and what to do with them, you’re in the right place! I have a lot of information below that should help. Enjoy!
Chayote Squash 101 – The Basics
About Chayote Squash
The chayote (pronounced cha-oh-tee or cha-oh-tay) is also called a Mexican pear squash, a chayote squash, and a mirliton. Chayotes are members of the gourd family and are native to Mexico. Now they are grown in warm climates around the world.
It is a light green pear-shaped fruit with a single large pit. The entire thing, including the pit, is edible. They may be eaten raw or cooked. The flavor is described as mild with a hint of cucumber and zucchini. The texture is crisp but softer than a potato. The edible seed has been described as a cross between an almond and a lima bean. It is technically a fruit, but is used more like a vegetable in many cuisines.
Chayotes are high in water and fiber, and low in sugar. They are fairly low in calories when compared with other fruit. One squash has about 39 calories, almost half our daily need of folate, and about one-fourth our daily need for Vitamin C. They have an array of other nutrients including fiber, manganese, copper, zinc, Vitamin K and more.
Chayotes contain powerful antioxidants that can reduce inflammation and help to protect us from cancer and diabetes. The antioxidants in chayotes have been shown to lower cholesterol, improve blood flow, and lower blood pressure in animal studies.
Chayotes are high in soluble fiber, which not only helps to improve digestion and lower cholesterol, but research has shown that eating chayotes may help to control blood sugar thereby helping to manage diabetes and insulin resistance.
How to Select Chayotes
Choose chayotes that are firm with smooth, bright skin. Deep furrows are normal, but the skin should not be excessively wrinkled or loose.
How to Store Chayotes
Store chayote lightly wrapped in the refrigerator. Fresh ones will keep for up to 4 weeks. Cut chayotes should be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator and used within 3 to 5 days.
How to Preserve Chayotes
Chayotes can be frozen. Wash the squash and do not peel it. Cut off both ends. Cut the squash into slices or cubes and discard the seed. Water blanch for 2 minutes or until just tender. Cool pieces in an ice water bath, drain, then pack into freezer containers. They will keep frozen for 6 to 8 months. Frozen chayote pieces can be added directly to dishes when cooking.
How is it usually eaten…raw or cooked?
Although chayotes can be enjoyed raw, they are more often cooked. They are popular in Cajun, Caribbean, Hispanic, Indian, Filipino, and Southern (USA) cuisines.
How to Prepare Chayotes
The entire chayote is edible. The peel of younger squash will be more tender and comfortably edible. Test the skin before cooking. If it is tough, it may be best to cut it off. It may be peeled before or after cooking. However, if peeling before cooking, wear gloves because it will release a sticky juice when peeled that may irritate your skin. Alternatively, it could be peeled under running water or after being cooked.
Chayotes may be eaten raw (with the peel) or cooked. They are often served raw with a little citrus juice and salt. Raw chayotes can be added to salads and salsas to provide an apple-like crunch. They can also be added to smoothies and juices.
The mild flavor of chayotes allows them to blend well in both sweet and savory dishes. Chayotes can be boiled, mashed, steamed, roasted, stir-fried, baked, pickled, fried, stuffed, added to soups, stews, and casseroles, and made into an au gratin. Some suggested dishes where you might fine chayotes include: curries, enchiladas, salads (fruit, green, and potato), salsas, slaws, stir-fries, stuffed chayotes, sushi, and tostadas.
When cooked, chayotes are often used like a summer squash and can often be used as a substitute.
Herbs/Spices That Go Well With Chayotes
Cilantro, cinnamon, creole, curry, fennel seeds, garlic, ginger, oregano, parsley, tarragon, thyme, turmeric, vanilla
Foods That Go Well With Chayotes
Fruit and Sweets: Apples, honey, lemon, lime, mango, orange
Vegetables: Bell peppers, chilies, corn, fennel, onions, scallions, acorn squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, watercress
Grains: Bread crumbs, tortillas
Dairy (and non-dairy): Butter, cheese, coconut milk, cream, sour cream
Proteins: Almonds, beef, chicken, pulled pork, pumpkin seeds, seafood, tofu
Other: Olive oil, vegetable stock, vanilla
Suggested Flavor Combinations:
Chayote + almonds + cinnamon + honey
Chayote + garlic + onions + tomatoes
10 Ways to Eat Chayote Squash https://www.mnn.com/food/recipes/blogs/ways-eat-chayote-squash
Chayote Squash Side Dish https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/140449/chayote-squash-side-dish/
Sautéed Chayote Squash and Potatoes with Shallots and Mint https://philosokitchen.com/sauteed-chayote-squash-potatoes/
Braised Chicken and Chayote https://www.chowhound.com/recipes/braised-chicken-and-chayote-27664
Shrimp Stuffed Mirliton https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/shrimp-stuffed-mirliton-recipe-1946335
Mirliton Stuffing https://www.emerils.com/124452/mirliton-stuffing
Roasted Chayotes https://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/roasted-chayotes-348748
Seaside Stuffed Mirlitons (Chayote) https://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2007/04/seaside-stuffed-mirlitons.html
Stuffed Mirlitons https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/stuffed-mirlitons-recipe-1915464
Mirliton Slaw https://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipes/mirliton-slaw
Chayote with Tomato and Green Chile https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/chayote_with_tomato_and_green_chile/
Sautéed Chayote with Garlic and Herbs https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/sauteed-chayote-with-garlic-and-herbs-234814
Chayotes Relleno https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/chayotes-relleno-recipe-1969737
Chayote Salad https://www.sunset.com/recipe/chayote-salad
Top Rated Chayote Recipes https://www.thedailymeal.com/best-recipes/chayote
Sautéed Chayote with Garlic and Herbs https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/saut-ed-chayote-with-garlic-and-herbs
Chayote-Orange Salad https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/chayote-orange-salad
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.
Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.