What Are Hearts of Palm?

Buying, Cooking, and Recipes

what is hearts of palm
Getty Images / Juanmonino

What are Hearts of Palm

Hearts of palm are cut from the core of a handful of palm tree species native to South and Central America. After harvesting, they are cut into cylinders or sliced into rings and packed in water or brine. They look like smooth, thick white asparagus spears and are often said to taste like artichokes. The delicate flavor of hearts of palm makes them a popular choice for salads, but they can also be braised, fried, or boiled.

Nutrition and Benefits

Hearts of palm are low in calories and fat and are cholesterol free. They also provide a good source of vitamins such as zinc, potassium, and vitamin C. However, because canned hearts of palm are often processed with salt, the sodium content may be high. Therefore, it's suggested to rinse them before use.

How To Use

Think beyond salads when reaching for that jar of hearts of palm. They can be roasted whole and tossed in a sauce, cut up and sautéed for taco fillings, or shredded and formed into patties as a satisfying, vegetarian alternative to crab cakes.

What Do They Taste Like?

Hearts of palm have a delicate, slightly nutty, vegetal flavor often compared to artichokes. Their texture is both creamy and crunchy, making them adaptable to a variety of dishes.

Recipes

Substitute hearts of palm for artichoke hearts (which have a similar texture and flavor) in any of the following recipes.

Where to Buy

Cans or jars of hearts of palm in water or brine can be found in most grocery stores, specialty stores, health food stores, and online retailers. They are sold whole or pre-sliced, and can also be labeled as "swamp cabbage" or "millionaire's salad."

Storage

You can purchase canned or jarred hearts of palm year-round. Fresh hearts of palm are difficult to come by as they are extremely perishable and can be expensive. Canned or jarred hearts of palm should be stored in a cool, dry place and will keep for up to three months. When opened, store them in the refrigerator and use within one week.