Sunday, June 7, 2015

Yacón, the Incredible Edible Vegetable

Offering yacón in farmer's market.
A big tuber.
You've probably seen carts of them for sale on the street or in bins in traditional markets. They don't look particularly appetizing - the color of potatoes, but not nearly as shapely.

However, yacón, a tuber native to the eastern slopes of the Andes from Colombia to Argentina, but until relatively recently known mostly in Peru, might just be the West's Next Big Super Food.

Altho it could pass for yucca and arracacia, other Andean root vegetables, which must be cooked, yacón is eaten raw, like an apple, is a bit crunchy and has a mild sweet flavor, which grows stronger the longer it sits around.  The sweetness comes from a fructooligosaccharide molecule, which certainly sounds delicious. However, the fructooligosaccharide happens to be an indigestible polysaccharide consisting of fructose, so yacón is a non-caloric sweetener, according to Wikipedia. The vegetable is also supposed to be good for digestion and blood sugar issues, making yacón products popular among diabetics. In Paloquemao Market they sell it as curatodo (cure for everything).
A cure for everything? Cancer, gastritis,
digestion and to shrink the beer belly.

Until recently, I'd only heard of yacón being eaten fresh or blended into a smoothie. But at a farmer's market the other day I tried yacón bread (filled with guanabana) and even yacón yogurt.

During the last decade or so, yacón, a close relative of the sunflower, has been cultivated on a small scale in Australia, Japan and other parts of Asia.
Yacón breads.
Tasting yacón yogurt.

Yacón plants. (Photo from Wikipedia)
Yacón - cures everything!
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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