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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Yacon or Puruvian Ground Apple

I love discovering new exciting foods.

This weekend I discovered some wonderful new food plants at a small weekend market at Maleny in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.

They were grown by an organic grower who was also kind enough to share with me that Comfrey is a wonderful cleanser of pesticides and herbicides from the soil.

I will now generously plant Comfrey on the side of my house where I have a neighbor who sprays.

The first of my new food plants is the Yacon Plant otherwise known as `Puruvian Ground Apple' which features in the photo below.


This plant produces tubers which look like dark sweet potatoes.

The grower allowed me to taste one before buying and peeled and eaten raw it tasted like a crunchy crisp cross between an apple and a melon. They said it was also a bit like sugarcane but have never tasted that.

It can also be cooked, boiled, steamed or baked with your other vegies or used in dessert crumbles with other dessert fruits, and it also juices well.

The Yacon is low in calories but said to be high in potassium and the tubers store carbohydrates as inulin which is said to be suitable for type two diabetes.

It really is an exciting plant. Looked a little faded when I transported it home but came to life quickly with a good water and a day in the sun.

It is said not to be invasive and as a member of the sunflower family will grow to two meters tall with many small yellow flowers.

This herbaceous perennial will yield a large harvest of underground tubers, so need to get it out of the pot and into the ground as soon as I can.

After the flowers die down or during winter the plant will wither and you can then pull it out of the ground to get the tubers.

When undamaged these tubers will store in a cool, dark and dry place for some months becoming sweeter all the time. Exposure to the sun will also increase their sweetness.

As well as the tubers the Yacon also produces red rhizomes directly at the base of the steam which which can be eaten young but are mainly used for propagation.

These rhizomes need to be planted at a depth of 3cm in composted soil and mulched well. They will come up through the mulch.

Still working out the best place to plant my first Yacon plant. It is exciting to discover a new source of food.

Will share more with you on the other new food plants I discovered and purchased in later blog posts.

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