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Chayote fruit


Introduction of Chayote Fruit


            Scientific name - Sechium edule


Chayote is scientifically known as Sechiumedule. This fruit is a common variety and it belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. This fruit is closely related to the common gourd, melons, cucumbers and squash species. The plant was first recorded by modern botanists in P. Browne's 1756 work, the Civil and Natural History of Jamaica.
Chayote is a roughly pear-shaped fruit, that squashes in the end. This fruit also spots coarse wrinkles, ranging from 10 to 20 cm in length. This fruit appears identical to a green pear that has a s a shrill green skin merged with the green to white flesh, and a single, large, compressed pit. Some varieties of chayote have thorny fruits borne by them. Chayote are known for their bland taste that doesn't excite anyone's palate. The texture of the fruit on the other hand is an amalgamation of potato and cucumber's texture. The seed which is normally discarded can also be consumed as a part of the fruit. This edible seed has a very nutty flavor and crunch to it. A chayote wine grows upto 12 meters high when support is provided, they grow on ground but can also act as a climbing plant and grow up to practically anything. The leaves of chayote are heart shaped growing 10-25cm wide with tendrils on the stem. While the male flowers are grown in clusters the female flowers have a solitary growth and are borne away from the male flowers.


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Nutritional Value of Chayote Fruit


Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 19 Kcal <1%
Carbohydrates 4.51 g 3.5%
Protein 0.82 g 1.5%
Total Fat 0.13 g <1%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 1.7 g 4.5%
Vitamins
Folates 93 µg 23%
Niacin 0.470 mg 3%
Pantothenic acid 0.249 mg 5%
Pyridoxine 0.076 mg 6%
Riboflavin 0.029 mg 2%
Thiamin 0.025 mg 2%
Vitamin A 0 IU 0%
Vitamin C 7.7 mg 13%
Vitamin E 0.12 mg <1%
Vitamin K 4.1 µg 4%


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Health benefits of Chayote Fruit


Chayote is considered to be a low-calorie and fiber-rich fruit, it is often recommended by dieticians in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs. Folates are important for cell division, and DNA synthesis, Chayote is one such food that is rich in folates and also makes a good source of B-Complex. When taken adequately before and during early pregnancy, this vitamin can help prevent neural tube defects in the newborn babies can be prevented to a large extent if folates are taken religiously before and during early pregnancy.


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Propagation and Harvesting


Plant Growth:
Chayotes are ideally grown in warm seasons and they thrive in full sun for the best results. In places where the climate is not favorable and is more prone to freezing temperatures should opt for planting chayote's during summers and grow them only as an annual crop i.e once in a year. In places with favorable climate, chayote will grow again in spring after a light winter chilling.
Propagation
One must always provide a substrate for the chayote vine to climb on, this can be in the form of a trellis or a tree. This will ensure a better productivity. It is also advised to grow chayote plants next to each other in many numbers to propagate an increase in fruit production by the means of cross pollination
Harvesting:
In order to harvest chayote one must ensure that the fruit is tender and has attained a growth of 4-6inches in diameter. It usually takes about 5-6 months for the chayote to grow once harvested. The ideal time to harvest is before the flesh becomes hard, the fruits should be cut off the vine with the help of a knife.


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Storage


Chayote can be consumed straight from the vineyards are can also be stored and preserved for later consumption. Fresh chayote can be stored in a refrigerator, but this method of preservation can only give you a shelf life of about 1 week. On the other side Chayote can be diced into small pieces and canned with preservatives to preserve it for one year.
It is highly recommended to peel the older fruits before plucking the younger ones, mature fruits are better for consumption than the latter. Chayote fruits can be eaten raw, but one of the most preferred methods of consumption are by cooking, boiling, sautéing, or baking chayote in the desired style.
Unlike the fruits/ vegetables of its family chayote does not need to be peeled to be cooked or fried in slices. The thin skin is good for consumption and can be eaten as a part of the fruit. The flavor of chayote as mentioned earlier is regarded to very bland and nothing distinctive. Some people even find it unpalatable and would recommend it only with seasoning. Due to its bland taste it is commonly served with seasoningse.g. salt, butter and pepper in Australia or in a dish consisting other vegetables and/or flavorings. Another method of preparing Chayote is that it can also be boiled, stuffed, mashed, baked, fried, or pickled in escabeche sauce; this is a Mediterranean sauce that consist of poached or fried fish. Both fruit and seed are rich in amino acids and vitamin C, as mentioned the seeds can be eaten as a part of the fruit because of its rich quality and nutty flavor. Vitamin C helps in curing common cold and also benefits the skin and eye. It also helps in curing skin deficiencies, wrinkles and scurvy. The difference between the mature fruit and the young fruit can easily be sotted as the mature ones have brown spots are the ones that do not usually have a tight skin while on the other hand fresh green fruit are firm and without brown spots or signs of sprouting and tend to be more tender when compared to the mature fruits. The roots/ tuberous part of the root is high in starch content and are also edible. The roots are eaten like a yam and can be fried to make a delicacy.
Apart from human consumption it can be used as pig or cattle fodder, as well.


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