I’ve been noticing hearts of palm on more and more local menus. And why not? It’s delicious, pretty to look at, and healthy. But I was conflicted, I remember having a breakfast last year with a gardener and she was mentioning that when eating hearts of palm, the entire tree gets harvested. Well, in this green world we can’t allow for this! So why are restaurants using it so much? I’m on the case.
In my relentless quest for information, I knew there had to be more to the story about hearts of palm and how it’s obtained. And in the case of hearts of palm, there is a fair bit of debunking. It is true though, wild hearts of palm, when harvested will kill the entire tree. However, there is a cultivated hearts of palm tree, also called the ‘peach palm,’ which has stems that grow off and are eaten and allows the mother tree to live on. It’s also grown in Hawaii and has become a major crop for our friends in the Pacific Ocean.
You’ll notice hearts of palm from it’s eggshell white hue and delicate flavor. Lots of cooks like to use hearts of palm because it doesn’t discolor when cut, provides a nice crunch to a dish, and for many is known as a fancy-pants food ingredient (some call it millionaire’s salad). You’ll notice hearts of palm jarred in oil at the the grocery store and you’ll also notice it on many menus throughout town.