A Common Plant

IMG_3136(2)Do you recognize this leaf? It belongs to a common plant, grown in many people’s yards. It’s a Monstera Deliciosa, also known as Ceriman, Split-Leaf Philodendron or Swiss-Cheese Plant. I first wrote about Monstera last July when mine began to fill with fruit. What’s special about Ceriman is that it is one of few plants that flower and fruit in full shade. And most people don’t know that they can actually eat the fruit. Monstera can also be grown in a planter, and as a houseplant, though it is unlikely to produce fruit like this.

If you want to use the fruit, Monstera is best grown at temperatures of 20–30 °C (68–86 °F). It requires shade and likes high humidity.  The fruit begins to ripen when the hexagonal green scales start to lift off naturally. It takes about a week for all the scales to come off, so one piece of fruit is harvested over several days–not all at once. As the scales come off, you scrape off the moist flesh underneath, which is what you eat. With the piece of fruit in the picture it took 9 days for all the scales to fall off. Since I wasn’t going to use it right away, I scraped the flesh off into a container and froze it every few days, until the entire fruit was finished ripening. A warning is warranted here—don’t force the scales off! You need to let it ripen naturally to the point where the scales lift-off on their own. Then you can eat the flesh underneath. If you eat the flesh before it is fully ripe, it could cause severe irritation in your mouth and throat. If you do this once (as I did the first time I attempted to eat the fruit), you won’t do it again!

Monstera is high in potassium and vitamin C. It tastes like a blend of pineapple and banana. Here are some of my recommendations for how to eat the ripe fruit: mix it into a fruit salad, add it to smoothies, put it on granola or on top of oatmeal, sprinkle it on salads.

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

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