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Jul 8, 2002 12:52 PM

Difficulty Handling Chayotes

  • w

Was trying to cook chayotes for the first time last night and began peeling this green veggie-fruit. While grasping the thing in my left hand and paring with the right, it sweated a sticky sap on my hand. Within moments I noticed a tingling sensation. I stopped, rinsed my left hand, noting a particular sqeakiness, then resumed with a plastic glove -- to no avail however, for the tingling persisted into a numbness and my skin began feeling very tight. Being on the prissier side, I completely stopped, washed my hands several times with different soaps, then anointed copious lotions and oils. With no change but not wanting to further delay grub-prep, I continued dinner while my bf searched his med text for possible explanations or hazards. Nothing. Later when the sensations stopped my skin was cracked, peeling and scaly. By this morning all the symptoms were gone, but the beast had effectively removed at least one layer of skin.

The cooked chayotes by the way were delicious and homey. I have had them previously only in Mexican soups and did not realize their natural sweetness. Similar taste to Taiwanese/Vietnamese okra.

Was this an isolated experience? Are there any neutralizers? Is there a method in preparation? Should I stop experimenting with foods I randomly choose in the supermarkets because they're on sale?

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  1. Sounds like you had an allergic reaction. I've handled chayotes plenty of times and never had that kind of reaction. Do you know if you have other similar food allergies? You might want to check.

    1. d
      Dancin' Cook

      My husband and I both have this reaction to raw chayotes. We haven't found any solution besides washing frequently while handling them.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Dancin' Cook

        You could all try wearing gloves -- latex or other, with or without powder (also allergens). You can buy them in the drugstore, in boxes of 50. But wash your hands well afterwards anyway.

        1. re: CTer
          Dancin' Cook

          On the other hand, chayote facials might someday replace acid peels and laser surgery to melt away those unsightly wrinkles..... ;-)

      2. b
        Buen Provecho

        I use chayotes pretty often and have noticed the same squeaky sensation you mentioned. When possible, I scrub them well and leave unpeeled (but be aware that this only works well with dishes that have fairly long cooking times - otherwise the skin is too tough to chew easily). An alternative when you feel they must be peeled is to insert an old fashioned type corkscrew with the perpendicular handle into the unpeeled chayote, and peel away to your heart's content without having to continually touch them with bare or gloved hands. Just as an aside I think that in Southern cookbooks you'll see chayotes referred to as merlitons.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Buen Provecho

          A fork works well to hold just about anything when pealing it...

        2. y


          I prepare chayotes quite often, and was taught a little trick in handling them. What I do is cut them in half and then briskly rub the cut sides together to draw out the white sap. When it foams then solidifies, I rinse the chayotes in cool water, then pare/peel the outer skin.

          Hope this helps.

          1. lol... 6 years later... I just got really freaked out cuz my hand started peeling. I have had a really bad allergic reaction to expired food one time when I was younger where I was hospitalized. When my hand reacted to Chayote.. I was thinking.. maybe I shouldn't eat it... but I guess it happens to other people too. I guess I can eat it after it's cooked >_< .. Thanks for sharing the experience... I'm glad it's not just me. lol