Sayote for longer life

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By Edna Garde

Edible Landscape

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

IT IS really amazing how vegetables can support life. As a farmer’s kid, I love eating vegetables even until now. We were then trained and disciplined to eat all kinds of vegetables under the sun. So, there goes my undying appetite for all kinds of them and even fruits for that matter.

It is also one reason that I never stop reading about them--how they prolong life, cure cancer and beautifies our bodies. I love to compile and try some of the recipes I come across in my readings.

Now, among the things I learned recently is about the lowly sayote which you can find in the highlands climbing leisurely on any tree in the farm. It seems to be growing just wild in some gardens I visited. The farmers just let them grow alone after caring for it in early age and let them climb trees and just harvest the fruit as needed (for food or market).


Mr. Henrylito Tacio of Marid Agribusiness Digest dubbed it in his column as the “hanging green gold.” I am privileged to echo to you, dear readers, some of the things I learned from his column.

Sayote is a tiny vegetable and a member of cucurbits just like melon, patola, squash, cucumber, kundol, and upo. It is high-yielding, while requiring little input.

Among the cucurbits only sayote loves the cooler climate, with even distribution of rainfall. This, I have realized when I tried to plant it in my garden under one of the trees for it to climb up. It never gave me the fruit.

But when I went up to the highlands of Talisay City, Bago City and Don Salvador Benedicto, wow! They’re all around the trees in the farmers’ yard like the guava, achuete and others. That is why you cannot see the crop grown in the plain areas where other cucurbits are normally growing.

Now, why did I take notice of this vegetable? Basically, I was also amazed of the potential uses of the crop. With proper care, sayote will bear fruit around 120 days after planting. Fruits come continuously throughout the year. The fruits can be harvested as early as 25 days after formation. Late harvesting will give hard and fibrous fruits.

If sayote is planted for its fruits, the plants should not be pruned; the big vines are allowed to spread so as to get the most sunshine and dew. But if the purpose is for shoots only, the plant is pruned while the young leaves are gathered. Did you know that the crop can be eaten raw and with peelings, too?

Not only that, all parts of sayote, from roots, stem, leaves and the main part, the fruit, of course are eatable. But Ilonggos just spare the fruit and include it in any dish we think it is good, huh? But some people around the world especially in Mexico where the sayote originated, boil it, make it into candles or slice and fry them for table use.

In the Philippines, the food processors have found the vegetable an ideal and low-cost base for their various products already. Sayote can be stuffed, mashed, baked, fried or pickled. The young shoots and leaves are good for salad. The tuberous part can be eaten by human or as fodder for livestock.

It also has cardio-vascular and anti-inflammatory properties –a tea made from the leaves has been used in the treatment of arteriosclerosis and hypertension; and to dissolve kidney stones.

Phytochemical research showed there is high amount of flavonoids (responsible for many plant colors and functions as anti-oxidant) in the leaves, followed by roots and stems.

What is in the sayote fruit? Upon analysis, its edible portion per 100 grams gives 94 percent moisture, 19 calories, 0.4 gram protein, 0.1 gram fat, 4.9 grams carbohydrates, and 0.6 gram fiber. Also found in the fruit in small amounts are calcium, sodium, thiamine, vitamin A, riboflavin, ascorbic acid and niacin.

There you are! "Let your food be your medicine and your medicine your food.”

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on April 09, 2014.


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