Heart of palm is fresh enough to be eaten raw, immediately upon harvesting. If you cannot find a fresh supply of heart of palm, it is also available in the grocery store next to the canned or jarred artichokes.
Fresh, raw heart of palm is crunchy with a very mildly sweet flavor, similar to jicama without the chalkiness. Jarred hearts of palm taste a bit like artichokes which is partly due to the ingredients used in the canning or jarring process.
Heart of palm is a vegetable harvested from the inner core or growing bud of certain palm trees, the most common being coconut, juçara, açaí palm, palmetto, and peach palm. Once the whole tree or the bud is cut, the bark of the palm is peeled off to reveal the tender white heart of palm inside.
There are two ways to harvest fresh heart of palm. The first way, which is typically practice with coconut palms, is to cut the entire tree down, peel away the layers of bark on the trunk, and find the white heart of palm at the center. While very good tasting, it means the death of the entire tree.
At Wailea Agricultural Group (AG) in Hawaii, they practice a sustainable harvest using peach palms. Peach palms are a clumping palm which means that they are able to harvest the shoots off of the main tree, rather than cutting the entire tree down.
From a seedling, the peach palm takes about a year before harvesting can begin. The trees that are harvested are anywhere from 1 to 20 years old. Using a machete, the shoots are skimmed off the palm then cut down to size and wiped with a clean cloth. Then it's wrapped, packed in an insulated box, and sent on its way.
After the harvest, Wailea AG takes all of the leftover from the cuttings and mulches it to put it back in the fields to nourish the young fruit trees.
Heart of palm is a creamy white color.
Heart of palm is ready to eat immediately when it is harvested which means you can begin enjoying it right away.
Before using the stem, remove the outer sheath by slicing it lengthwise with a sharp knife. (Remember, never cut toward yourself!) The center heart section will pop out. Discard the sheath. The whole base section is edible. You can chop, cube or slice depending on what's best for your recipe.
The edible portions of the fresh Hawaiian Heart of Palm are the young leaves at the stem’s top, the heart inside the bottom of the stem, and all of the large base portion. All are delicious raw, lightly cooked, and/or marinated.
Cultivated for their versatility and sustainability, peach palm has been used culinarily throughout Central and South America for centuries. The wood, the fruit and the palm heart are all used widely in these countries. Wailea Ag's subtropical microclimate in Honomu, HI makes it a perfect US location to grow this palm.
Heart of palm is highly nutritious with a high amount of potassium, magnesium, iron and calcium.
100g of raw heart of palm contains:
Heart of palm is harvested year-round.
Heart of palm is delicious raw and can be put on salads or included in veggie trays. Grilled heart of palm, however, will dress up any salad.
You can cut heart of palm into cubes or chunks and toss them in with roasting vegetables. Or try marinating the cubes for a special vegetarian poke bowl.
If you're a soup lover, try simmering heart of palm with leeks, chicken stock and a bit of cream or macadamia milk, then blend it for a carb-free creamy take on potato leek soup.
Fresh and raw heart of palm is crunchy and very mildly sweet much like jicama without the chalkiness. When cooked simply—grilled with olive oil and sea salt—the texture is more like an artichoke heart. Cooked fully the heart of palm will soften much like a carrot would.
When you receive your fresh Hawaiian heart of palm, refrigerate it at 33-40° F (0.5-8° C). The colder the temperature, the longer it will stay fresh. (Please do not freeze as it’s high water content will change its texture once frozen).
Wrap unused portions tightly in plastic and refrigerate for up to two weeks. The stem keeps best in its protective, woody outer sheath.
Heart of palm is not known to be toxic to dogs. If you have any doubts about feeding heart of palm to your furry friend, please consult a veterinary professional.