What is Jicama?
This week we thought we would introduce you to one of our less known vegetables - Jicama.
Before you start reading this out loud to your family or friends: Jicama is pronounced:
Jicama is grown for its edible tuberous root. It is a leguminous tropical vine originally native to Central America and Mexico. Spanish explorers introduced it to Asia and the Pacific Islands and it was a popular ship staple because it was thirst-quenching, stored well, and could be eaten raw. Some colloquial names for jicama are the Mexican potato, Mexican yam bean, ahipa, saa got, Chinese turnip, lo bok, and the Chinese potato.
Here is what one of our customers, John, had to say about growing Jicama this past year. He also sent us some photos - thanks, John!
"In mid September we were scheduled to go to Vancouver for seven weeks but I was also hoping to try growing jicama from seed. According to my reading they required three to four months of growing before there was any chance of anything useful.
I put three seeds into a planting pot filled with seed raising mix, put the pot into an opaque supermarket bag and poured very warm water over the seeds. Then I ballooned the bag, tied its neck and put the parcel on a sunny shelf under the house’s eaves.
No I didn’t fully forget the seeds while in Vancouver, I actually decided that I had wasted my time. On returning home, early November I started preparing some more pots for another attempt at germinating jicama seeds and then thought maybe I should check my first attempt. There were three seedlings looking for something to grow onto! Two were transferred into their own pots while I forked out most of my magnificent oxalis plants.
About a week later the jicama were planted out in a small hollow for each plant. Over the months they have grown until they outgrew their allotted two metres of stake. On the 28th of March the first plant was dug. There was a tuber under the plant! Unfortunately the root was split, probably the late February rain. This had let the slugs in.
The next two plants will be dug soon. Next time I’ll try germinating the seeds early winter and planting the seedlings out earlier. The family all agree that the inner root tastes like the outer skin of a green pea pod. We’ll soon see how it tastes in a stir-fry."
In the kitchen:
Jicama tubers require no cooking and they retain their raw texture even when they are heated. They can be served raw in salads or with dips, or cooked alone or with other veges in stir-fries. The skin is typically peeled before eating raw. Raw jicama tastes similar to a pear or apple and its applelike crispness adds a delicious crunch to salads. Because it does not discolour when exposed to the open air, raw jicama is often popular in vegetable platters. When jicama is used in cooking it tends to take on the flavours of the ingredients with which it is being combined, and is therefore a nice complement to stir-fry dishes because it blends well with many vegetables and seasonings.
Jicama is a very versatile vegetable that contains a high amount of vitamin C, is low in sodium, and has no fat. One adult serving of jicama, which is equal to approximately 1 cup of cubed jicama or 120 grams, contains only 45 calories.
Jicama Citrus Salad
If you would like to try this Jicama Citrus Salad, here is the recipe:
First, grow your jicama....
....then you will need the following list of ingredients:
- 1 medium jicama
- 2 cups of finely cut coleslaw - shredded cabbage, red cabbage, carrot etc
- 1 small can of mandarin segments, drained, (reserve 1/4 cup of the juice)
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
- a tiny pinch of each of paprika and chilli powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- freshly chopped coriander
To assemble the salad:
- Use a grater to shred 2 cups of jicama into a large bowl. Add coleslaw and mandarin segments and set aside.
- To make the dressing, whisk together reserved Mandarin juice, mayonnaise, vinegar, paprika, chilli powder, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
- Pour this dressing over the jicama mixture. Toss to mix thoroughly. Top with the chopped coriander leaves.
If we have piqued your interest and you would like to try growing jicama, here is some info:
- Sow seeds indoors (soaking seeds overnight in warm water can assist germination) from late winter through spring.
- Set the plants out into the garden in as sunny and warm a position as possible (eg against a block wall), in late spring and early summer.
- The longer the hot growing season, the larger the root.
- Frequent watering is required when rapid growth begins.
- Harvest when the foliage begins to die down.
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