Yuca (Cassava Root)

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BASIC INFO

Pronounced: YOU ka · cah – SAH – vah

AKA: potato of the tropics

Countries of origins: Africa · South America · 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.

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HEALTH INFO

Diets: gluten-free

Calories: 330 (about 1 cup)

Good source of: fiber · vitamin C · potassium · carbohydrates

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

Replaces: potatoes

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WHERE TO BUY

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.

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HOW TO STORE

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.

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FUN FACTS

  • 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.’

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~*~ RECIPES ~*~

Yuca Home Fries

Sugar-Coated Cassava Balls 

Mashed Yuca Wrap 

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