The plant named Monstera deliciosa presents a conundrum: how can a plant be a monster and delicious, too? In this case, Monstera means monstrous size, but deliciosa means just what you’d think. The fruit of this plant, also called ceriman, or the Swiss cheese plant (due to the holes in the leaves), among other names, can be dangerous when it is not fully ripe. That’s when the fruit is full of oxalic acid which can cause severe skin and throat irritation.
When fully ripe, the monstera offers a wonderful combination of strong tropical flavors like pineapple, coconut, and banana. In its native countries of Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, and Costa Rica, it is typically eaten on its own or prepared into jams. Chefs also whip up monstera-based desserts, either pairing the fruit with a dash of light cream or incorporating it into fruit cups or ice cream.
Unlocking that flavorful potential—and avoiding any painful toxicity—is all a matter of timing.
So how do you know when the fruit is safe? That’s a complicated process that is covered by several paragraphs and a video at Gastro Obscura.
(Image credit: Annon201)