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Friday, 29 November 2013

Growing Yacon (Apple of the Earth)

We are always on the lookout for new vegetables to try and have been researching into Yacon (Smallanthus Sonchifolius) a South-American perennial white tuber. It looks well worth a try and we are looking to get some tubers to grow.

The tuber looks like a baking potato but apparently tastes more like a cross between and apple and celery with a high liquid content which means it can be juiced to make a sweet honey like syrup.

The tubers are a close relative of sunflowers and Jerusalem artichokes and grow up to 2 metres tall with yellow flowers. The plant produces two types of underground tubers, small reddish rhizomes used for propagation and large brown tubers for eating. The larger ones can weigh anything between 300 grams and a kilogram. Apparently any rhizomes left in the ground, in non-frosting areas, will re-emerge in the Spring.

If you live in a frost zone, the rhizomes can be stored in moist sand and planted out in the early Spring. Plant in loosened soil at 3 cm deep and about 100 cm apart. They do not appear to be too fussy and will apparently thrive in most soils but prefer a soil rich in organic matter. Mulch deeply and the plant will grow through the mulching. Has moderate water needs and needs to be kept moist rather than soggy. The plants reach maturity after about 6 months and are harvested after the flowers and stems die back. Apparently drying the tubers in the sun for up to 2 weeks will sweeten them.

The tubers can be enjoyed raw or juiced but can also be boiled, steamed or baked. Strips can also be sun dried to produce a sweet crunchy snack. However enjoyed the tubers have the added benefit of being high in fibre but low in calories.

All we now have to do is obtain some rhizomes and give them a try. If anybody has any spare out there we would be willing to pay for postage and packing.

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