Know Your Ingredients: Hearts of Palm


You may regularly get hearts of palm as a fixing at the salad bar, but do you know what these vegetables are, exactly?

Hearts of palm — also called palmito or swamp cabbage — are the sweet, tender cores of various palm trees. When harvested, the tree's bark and white fibers are removed, leaving an edible core. Because extracting the palm's inner core destroys single-stemmed coconut, acai, and sabal palm trees, multi-stem palms known as peach palms are cultivated solely for the purpose of harvesting palm hearts.

A staple of Latin American cuisine, hearts of palm are used in spreads, eaten out of hand, tossed into salads, and served with pasta.

The plant has a mild flavor similar to that of an artichoke heart, and is crisp when fresh, though it turns softer when canned. Are you surprised to hear where this salad bar staple comes from? What are some other ingredients you've always wondered about?

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