Hearts of palm is a unique vegetable that is harvested from the inner core of certain palm trees. This delicacy has a distinct taste and texture that has intrigued many people around the world. What does heart of palm taste like?
Do they taste like asparagus? What flavors go with them? And how else can you use them in the kitchen? In this food guide, we’ll give you the answers to these questions and more.
Hearts of palm are literally the hearts of the palm tree. These vegetables come from the buds of certain palm trees from which new leaves will sprout.
Hearts of palm can be baby stalks of single-stemmed wild palms or other palm tree species like the peach palm. These trees are common in Central and South America, especially Costa Rica.
People also call these hearts chonta, palmetto, swamp cabbage, or palm cabbage. The stems have leaves and some bark, so farmers debark and peel off the outer covering to reveal the edible part.
Hearts of palm are white, off-white, or cream-colored stalks that resemble white asparagus. You’ll often find them as cylinders when cut in length or rings when cut across.
When it is harvested, it is cylindrical in shape and has a diameter of about 1 to 1.5 inches. The outer layer of the hearts of palm is typically removed, revealing a smooth and creamy white center.
The length of the hearts of palm can vary, but it is usually between 4 to 12 inches long.
The hearts of palm have a very subtle flavor. People often compare this mild taste to artichoke hearts and white asparagus.
That said, hearts of palm are vegetal, with some hints of nuttiness.
The subtle taste of hearts of palm makes them a great blank canvas for spices and seasonings. Hearts of palm absorbs other flavors well, so they will taste like whatever you soak them in.
For instance, brined hearts of palm will taste like brine. And, if you marinate them, the hearts of palm will take on the flavor of your marinade.
Hearts of palm are versatile and flexible; they go with almost any other flavor.
The texture of hearts of palm is firm and tender, yet also delicate.
It has a slight crunch that is similar to asparagus or artichokes but is also creamy and smooth. The texture is often compared to that of a tender and juicy white asparagus but with a more fibrous and less woody texture.
Hearts of palm is not chewy or stringy like some other vegetables, and it has a satisfying texture that holds up well in a variety of culinary applications.
The texture of hearts of palm can vary slightly depending on how it is prepared and served.
These vegetables are not usually eaten fresh due to their highly-perishable nature. That said, manufacturers often sell them in jars or cans, either brined or pickled.
Most grocery stores have them. However, if you cannot spot them there, you can try specialty and health food stores.
You can also order them online if you don’t have the time to scour local stores.
To use them in recipes, you can boil, braise, or fry hearts of palm.
When you grill some stalks, they also make great appetizers. Hearts of palm are also good ingredients for making gluten-free pasta.
You can use them to make hearts of palm salad, a fresh salad drizzled with olive oil and lime or lemon juice.
They make great additions to stir-fry recipes, and you can use hearts of palm as a seafood substitute as well.
These vegetables also work in most recipes as an alternative to artichoke hearts.
The texture of hearts of palm is perfect for pureeing. Pureed hearts of palm are great for making creamy dips and sauces.
Like any other vegetable, hearts of palm can also be an ingredient in stews and soups.
Due to its texture, vegans use hearts of palm as a meat substitute. These vegetables step in for meat in carnitas, calamari, and crab cake recipes.
Lastly, hearts of palm are popular among people who follow a keto diet because they are low in carb and calories. People like to use it in patties for vegan and keto-friendly burgers and sandwiches.
Not only are these vegetables versatile, but they are also full of vitamins and minerals.
Hearts of palm are rich in fiber and protein. You can also get zinc, iron, and potassium when you eat hearts of palm.
Lastly, these stalks contain phosphorus and copper.
The good thing is that hearts of palm are low in sugar and fats, so they are healthy vegan and keto-friendly options.
Hearts of palm can be stored in various ways depending on whether it is fresh, canned or jarred.
Here are some guidelines for storing hearts of palm:
If you have fresh hearts of palm, store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic wrap.
They will keep for up to a week, but it’s best to use them as soon as possible for the best flavor and texture.
If you have opened canned or jarred hearts of palm, transfer them to an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator.
They will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
Store unopened cans or jars of hearts of palm in a cool, dry place, such as a pantry or cupboard. Check the expiration date and use them before the date indicated on the package. Once opened, follow the instructions for storing opened canned or jarred hearts of palm.
It’s important to note that once hearts of palm have been opened or cooked, they should be consumed or stored properly, as outlined above.
When in doubt, use your best judgment and if the hearts of palm appear to be spoiled or have an off odor, it’s best to discard them.
Yes, hearts of palm can taste good and delight your taste buds. Hearts of palm have a very subtle nutty and vegetal taste on their own. But they take on whatever flavorings you season them with. That said, how they taste is entirely up to you – so you can make them taste good.
Yes, you can eat raw and fresh hearts of palm. When raw, hearts of palm taste slightly sweet and mildly nutty. People often describe the flavor of raw hearts of palm as similar to jicama.
Yes. Due to the canning process, canned hearts of palm are high in sodium. To significantly reduce their sodium content, you must drain canned hearts of palm. Discard the liquid, and rinse the vegetable thoroughly before draining again.
What do hearts of palm taste like? They have a subtle sweetness and hints of a nutty flavor when you eat them raw. Once cooked, they have a mild and barely noticeable nutty and vegetal taste.
The great thing about hearts of palm is that they take on flavors very well. When you marinate them, these vegetables will taste exactly like your marinade. That said, they can taste like whatever you want them to be. For this reason, they can meld well with almost any other ingredient.