Hearts of palm, also locally known as swamp cabbage, is a vegetable harvested from the core and growing bud of a young palm (less than a year old). Peach palm is the most notable palm used agriculturally to harvest the heart of palm you might enjoy in your salad. Palm hearts are regarded as a delicacy as harvesting is labor intensive. Florida’s wild Sabal palmetto was once a source of hearts of palm but is now protected by conservation law. Costa Rica is the primary source of palm hearts in the USA, and France is the largest importer.
Since harvesting hearts of palm kills the palm, be sure to only used commercially harvested hearts in your salads and recipes, just like Michael’s On East in Sarasota does. From its catering menu you can select a delicious seafood salad with poached scallops, poached jumbo shrimp, lump crabmeat and grilled hearts of palm presented over Boston lettuce with mango slices, papaya, pineapple and blackberries. Didn’t know swamp cabbage could taste so good, did you? Enjoy!