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The Air potato has rough dark brown skin and is often speckled with dark brown spots. Its form is unique and resembles that of a mushroom cap. It can grow up to the size of a softball. Its starchy beige orange flesh changes in color to vivid yellow green soon after it is harvested. Its flavor is mild and has a slight bitterness to it and a slimy texture. Younger and smaller bulbs are tastier than older and bigger bulbs.
Air potatoes are available in the late fall and early winter months.
The Air potato, also known as Uchu Imo, Dukkar Kand, Karaino, Varahi Kand, Kaachil, and l’hoffe, is a member of the Dioscoreaceae or Yam family. Growing on an herbaceous twining vine the air potato plant can grow more than seventy feet in length. They are called Air potatoes because their bulbs grow and hang down from a vine in the air rather than growing underground in the dirt.
Air potatoes contain a steroid, diosgenin that is used in the west in commercial synthetic steroidal hormones. They are used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine in India to treat diarrhea, sore throats and jaundice. Furthermore, they are used to treat people who suffer from diabetes in West India; there was new research published in 2012 that say the plant has therapeutic potential and has been shown to have anti-diabetic properties. The strains of Air potatoes currently grown in the U.S. are bitter and lack flavor, some varieties may be poisonous as well.
Because of their slimy texture and mild taste, Air potatoes are great for making Okonomiyaki, a Japanese style pancake that uses a variety of ingredients. Additionally, they can be added to miso soups, curry, tempura and Nimono (Japanese style simmered dishes). For storing, wrap them in newspapers and put them in a styrofoam box in order to avoid moisture and cold damages.
Japanese people call the Air potato Uchu Imo which means space potatoes because many Air potatoes look like meteors from space. The Air potato cannot be found at local grocery stores in Japan, however, they can be found at the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market and Tsukiji market.
Air potatoes are originally from parts of tropical Asia, such as the Philippines. Today they can also be found in Africa and Florida in the U.S. They were introduced to Florida in 1905 from Africa. Due to their ability to adapt and spread quickly in a new environment, they are considered as one of Florida's most invasive plant species since 1993.
Recipes that include Air Potatoes. One is easiest, three is harder.
|The Survival Gardener||Air Potato Homefries|
Someone spotted Air Potatoes using the Specialty Produce app for iPhone and Android.
Produce Spotting allows you to share your produce discoveries with your neighbors and the world! Is your market carrying green dragon apples? Is a chef doing things with shaved fennel that are out of this world? Pinpoint your location annonymously through the Specialty Produce App and let others know about unique flavors that are around them.
Santa Monica Farmers Market
Steven MurrayNear Santa Monica, California, United States
About 458 days ago, 3/23/16
Spotter's comments : Air Potatoes spotted at Santa Monica Farmers Market.