Palm hearts are one of Reunion Island's delicacies. In a salad or a cari, we love them here!
Two types of palmetto are currently grown on Reunion Island for their palm hearts:
  • The white palmetto/Dictyosperma album
  • The red palmetto/Acanthophoenix rubra
The palmetto is a palm which is endemic to Reunion Island. The edible palm hearts are used in Reunionese cuisine. You have to wait four to five years (it's worth it!) after the planting the palm tree before you can harvest the hearts that are inside its trunk.

Palm hearts can be eaten in salads, gratins or spicy relishes and can be used to garnish caris. Their texture is crisp and their taste incomparable! They are fine and delicate, and once peeled they must be used immediately because the palm heart oxidises on contact with the air. There are some techniques to prevent this, but they are kept top secret. A small tip all the same: add a squeeze of lemon juice and iced water to the heart after peeling it.

These days the National Forestry Office monitors how palm hearts are harvested and sold. Make sure you check the stamp on each palm head because their sale is monitored. Like any rare product palm hearts are expensive.They are mainly cooked for special occasions. 

Palm heart salad recipe:

  • Remove all the external hard shells of the palmetto, until you get the white, soft heart
  • Pour some iced water and a tablespoon of lemon juice into a container.
  • Slice the palm heart into this same container using a peeler      
  • Pour the rest of the lemon juice in a bowl and mix with a pinch of salt and pepper
  • Add 4 tablespoons of olive oil and mix again
  • Drain the sliced palm heart and dry with a tea towel
  • Place the palm hearts on a serving plate, pour the vinaigrette over the palm hearts and mix carefully
  • Serve straight away: enjoy your meal!

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