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Costa Rica is in the midst of pejibaye season. A nutritious snack loved nationwide, this savory fruit is packed with vitamins and nutrients and is good for a quick energy boost. The versatile fruit can be eaten on its own or used as an ingredient in a number of recipes, sweet or savory, solid or liquid. So what exactly is the pejibaye?
Between September and April, a special type of palm tree produces large clusters of fruit called pejibaye, or peach palm fruit. This is also the same type of palm that produces the well-known and delicious hearts of palm that are often seen in salads. Pejibaye are a highly nutritious and loved snack in Costa Rica. During the season, they can be purchased at any fruit stand, farmer’s market, and in many grocery stores for around $2 a kilo (2.2 pounds).
Pejibayes only grow in tropical zones, so they are very popular in many countries in Central and South America. This delicious treat is easy to prepare, but it does take a bit of time. After the fruit is picked, it must be boiled for several hours. When the three- to five-hour boiling process is complete, the skin is removed and the fruit sliced open. There is a small pit inside which must be taken out. Most people eat them with lime or mayonnaise. The taste is a mix between a cashew, a chestnut, and a potato; savory and satisfying.
Pejibayes are an excellent, high energy snack. They are full of vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Each fruit also contains 2.6 grams (about a tenth of an ounce) of protein. They have a solid amount of magnesium, potassium, and zinc too. Costa Ricans not only eat these in their natural, found form, but also turn them into cakes, stews, soups, and even liquor. These are definitely a fruit worth trying on a visit to Costa Rica, especially during the pejibaye season.