The chayote (La christophine)
Origin and description
Also known as “cho-cho”, “pear squash” or “Christophine” in Guadeloupe, Chayotes are native to Mexico but are now cultivated in warm climates countries or islands such as Guadeloupe. As an edible plant, the chayote belongs to the “Cucurbitaceae” gourd family, along with melons, cucumbers and squash.
The chayote is a light green, pear-shaped fruit with pale cucumber-like flesh that surrounds a single seed, ranging from 10 to 20 cm in length. The flesh has a fairly bland taste, and a texture which is described as a cross between a potato and a cucumber.
Although it is technically a fruit, the chayote is often used more like a vegetable. It can be boiled, stuffed, mashed, baked or fried. In Guadeloupe, the fruit is usually eaten raw added to a fresh salad or when it is cooked, it is made as a succulent traditional dish called “Gratin de Christophine” (Chayote gratin). Chayotes can also be marinated lightly with citrus juice and salt for a simple snack. Even though they are not as popular as the fruit, the root and leaves of the chayote plant are also edible. The root can be prepared in a similar manner to potatoes and the leaves can be cooked like collard greens.
Chayotes have a high water and fibre content and are relatively low in natural sugars, making them fairly low in calories compared to other fruits. Whether raw or cooked, they are a good source of vitamin C but are also famous for being high in potassium and amino acids. Chayotes contain other nutrients such as Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin B6 and K.