Yuca (Cassava Root)

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1. WHAT IS IT?

Pronounced: YOU ka ; cah – SAH – vah

AKA: potato of the tropics

Countries of origins: Africa, South America, and the Caribbean

Plant of origin: Manihot esculenta

History: According to legend, a mother watched her child die from hunger. Shortly aft was buried, a forest transformed the child’s body into the roots of a plant (ah-hem, yuca). This plant‘s starchy roots became a major food source, defending the town from starvation.

Varieties: sweet and bitter

In Season: all year-round  

NOTE: Don’t confuse with yucca, which is just a regular ho-hum desert succulent (note the two c’s). Plus, it’s pronounced YUCK – a, so definitely not for eating.

 

2. IS IT HEALTHY?

Diets: gluten-free

Calories: 330 (about 1 cup)

Good source of: fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and carbohydrates

Health Benefits: lowers cholesterol, builds strong bones and body tissues

Replaces: potatoes

For more info go to: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/cassava-benefits-5008.html

 

3. WHERE CAN I FIND IT?

Where: your supermarket’s produce section; near potatoes, turnips, and other roots & tubers

BUY this: roots with hard, rough, and waxy skin

AVOID this: roots with breaks, mold, soft spots, or sour smell

Shopping Tip: Buy more yuca than you actually need because you may find dark streaks hiding within its white flesh. These streaks will weaken its flavor, so you’ll be cutting them out.

 

4. HOW LONG WILL IT LAST?

Store: If it’s uncut, store in a cool, dry place (not your refrigerator) for about 2 – 3 days. Once you’ve peeled the yuca and cut it into pieces, place it in cold water and keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 5 months.

NOTE: Obviously, the sooner you use yuca, the better.

 

5. I DIDN’T KNOW THAT. . .

  • Yuca is an ingredient in some South American beers. 
  • Yuca roots are ground into a flour that’s used to make tapioca.
  • In the Ewe language spoken in Ghana, Africa, the word for yuca is agbeli, which means ‘there is life.’

 

6. BUT HOW DO I EAT IT?

Yuca Home Fries

 

Craving more? Try these recipes:

Sugar-Coated Cassava Balls (from mycolumbianrecipes.com)

Mashed Yuca Wrap (from mycolumbianrecipes.com)

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