The edible inner portion of the stem of the cabbage palm tree, which grows in many tropical climates and is Florida's official state tree. Hearts of palm are slender, ivory-colored, delicately flavored and expensive. They resemble white asparagus, sans tips. Their texture is firm and smooth and the flavor is reminiscent of an artichoke. Each stalk is about 4 inches long and can range in diameter from pencil-thin to 1 to 1½ inches. The hearts of palm we get in the United States are either from Florida or imported from Brazil. When found fresh, they are typically sealed in plastic wrap and should look white with no signs of bruising or browning. Refrigerate and use within 2 to 3 days. Canned hearts of palm are packed in water, and can be found in gourmet markets and many large supermarkets. Once opened, they should be transferred to a nonmetal container with an airtight cover and can be refrigerated in their own liquid for up to a week. Hearts of palm can be used in salads and in main dishes, deep-fried or added to stir-frys.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.