Hearts Of Palm


Hearts of palm are the inner portion of the stem of the sabal Palmetto, or "swamp cabbage," palm tree. They have a taste similar to artichokes but look like white asparagus without the tops. They are grown primarily in Florida, Brazil, Ecuador and Cosa Rica, and are usually purchased canned and packed in water.


Other names: Chonta, Swamp Cabbage, Palmito, Palm Heart
Translations: Hearts of Palm, Inimi de palmier, Hearts of Palm, Palm serca, Palmharten, हथेली के दिल, Palmito, Пальмовая сердцевина, Καρδιές των Palm, قلوب النخيل, 마음을 손바닥, Srdcích Palm, Of Hearts Palm, 棕榈心, Srdciach Palm, Cuori di palma, לבבות דקל, Hearts of Palm, Срца са срецом, ハーツオブパーム, Coeurs de palmier, Palmherzen, Пальмова серцевина, Сърцето на палмово

Physical Description

Each stalk of hearts of palm is approximately four inches long and ranges anywhere from a quarter of an inch to an inch and a half in circumference. The smaller the diameter, the more tender. They are ivory in color.

Colors: Ivory, cream, white

Tasting Notes

Flavors: Slightly sweet, grassy
Mouthfeel: Chewy, Slightly crunchy
Food complements: Beans, Salad, Parmesan cheese, Pasta
Wine complements: Sherry, Rose, Riesling
Beverage complements: Earl gray tea, Lemon water
Substitutes: Artichoke, Asparagus

Selecting and Buying

Seasonality: february, march, april, may, june
Peak: march, april
Choosing: Look for firm, smooth, white stalks without any discoloration.
Buying: Fresh hearts of palm are difficult to find outside of areas, generally tropical, where they are grown. Across the United States and Europe, hearts of palm are generally found in cans, packed in water, at fine food stores. Hearts of palm can be expensive outside of their growing area due to the relative inaccessibility of the plant.
Procuring: The palm trees that provide hearts of palm are grown in tropical climates. These trees produce several stems, which are harvested by hand in the spring; sometimes a stem or two is left to allow the tree to continue growing, and sometimes all stems are removed and the remainder of the palm tree is used for other purposes.

Preparation and Use

Either fresh or canned, hearts of palm should be rinsed and then may be sliced or chopped to add to salads or pasta. They can also be deep fried. The stalks are generally tender enough to cut with a standard kitchen blade.

Cleaning: Hearts of palm should be rinsed prior to use.

Conserving and Storing

Fresh hearts of palm should be consumed immediately, since the shelf life of this vegetable is very short. When purchased canned, store the uneaten part in a non-metal container in the refrigerator for up to one week.


Due to the availability of this vegetable, fresh hearts of palm are a popular ingredient in Latin American cuisine. They are also popular in Europe, where they are exported from the tropics in cans. France is the largest importer of canned hearts of palm.

History: Hearts of palm has been eaten for thousands of years in Central and South America. Even prior to Christopher Columbus's arrival in the New World, the Carib Indians were eating both the nuts and the hearts of palm of the sabal Palmetto tree, while using its bark and leaves as building material. In Florida, where they also grow abundantly, the trees were cut down as a food source during the Great Depression. The sabal Palmetto tree is now the state tree of Florida and is a protected species under state law.

The fruit of the palm was most important source of foof in precolumbain times.



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