The heart of palm (known as palmito) is the core of the stem of the palm from the species Bactris gasipaes, the same which is cultivated in our Costa Rica farms. The harvesting of the palm is done when it achieves a certain height and diameter, which are appropriate in order to obtain the quality of the products our customer’s desire. The cut is done when the palm is approximately 3 meters high. The stems are transported to the plant with the outer shell, which is taken off in the moment that they are cut and will be packed.
Hearts of palm has been eaten for thousands of years in Central and South America. Even prior to Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the New World, the Carib Indians were eating both the nuts and the hearts of palm of the sabal Palmetto tree, while using its bark and leaves as building material. The fruit of the palm was most important source of food in pre-Columbian times.
In Florida, where they also grow abundantly, the trees were cut down as a food source during the Great Depression. The sabal Palmetto tree is now the state tree of Florida and is a protected species under state law.
HISTORY OF DEMASA´S HEARTS OF PALM DIVISION:
• In 1978, DEMASA entered the business of cultivated hearts of palm, in Costa Rica.
• By the year of 1950, it begun to be successfully commercialized in Brazil.
• In 1970, it was introduced to the World´s market, being a huge success in France. This way, the exportation to Europe begun, followed by the rest of the world.
• In 1978, Demasa established in Costa Rica, its first two commercial plantations of cultivated hearts of palm. Research programs were also established in order to improve the production process.
• In 1996 DEMASA built a plant for the production of hearts of palm, in the Caribbean coast of Costa Rican. This plant is the largest and most technologically advanced in the production of this product in the World, enabling us to offer the best product with the best sanitary conditions.
• Cultivated hearts of palm has diminished the exploitation of wild hearts of palm, which used to extract, every year, a great amount of palm trees from the jungle, affecting biodiversity.