Chayote, Sechium edule, is a member of the gourd family, along with cucumbers, melons and squash. It is a trailing vine that produces large leaves that act as a canopy to protect the fruit. A native of the Americas, the majority of chayotes sold for export come from the Veracruz region of Mexico. It is often considered a vegetable, as it is not sweet. The leaves, roots, stems and seeds are all edible.
It is a major player in the diets of people in the Americas and has become more popular in the US in recent years. It has an edible, thin green skin and slightly prickly hairs. The flesh is creamy yellowish-white with one large seed in the center. It is most flavorful if it has sprouted, and the smaller fruits are the most tender. The flavor is simple and bland and is very good served raw in salads, or steamed, fried, mashed, stuffed, pickled or used in soups and stews.
Both the seed and fruit are high in vitamin C and amino acids. The leaves and fruits are considered diuretic in ethno-medicine, and are used to help control hypertension and kidney stones. They also contain anti-inflammatory properties.