History and Lore
Chayote (Sechium edule) was actually domesticated in Mexico and seen in South American until after the Spanish conquest. (Sophie Coe, America's First Cuisines). The starchy squash was a staple of the Aztecs. The name chayote is derived from the Nahuatl world chayotli.
The Mayans added chayote shoots (as a green) to beans and also ate the fruit and the starchy roots.
Buy and Store
Chayote have become popular in the U.S. and are found in many large markets. They are being cultivated in Florida, California, and Louisiana. They are very common in Latino grocery stores. Select firm, smooth, unwrinkled chayote. Old chayote become very wrinkled and become dry and tough. Chayote will keep refrigerated for many days but it is best to use as quickly as possible.
Medicinal uses of the chayote included a tea made of the leaves is reported to dissolve kidney stones as well as a treatment for arteriosclerosis and hypertension.
The chayote can be eaten raw in salads, or stuffed and baked. Other preparations include mashing, pickling, frying or boiling. The plain squash tends to be bland and benefits from "aggressive" seasoning.