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The Yacón is ovate and cylindrical in shape with tapered ends. It is covered in a rough semi thick skin that has a red-brown color. The flesh is creamy beige-orange, juicy, crisp and sweet like a fruit offering a flavor reminiscent of apple, watermelon, pear and celery. Some varieties of Yacón tubers may have purple, pink, red, orange or yellow skin and flesh and will vary in flavor.
Yacón are available in the late fall and winter months.
The Yacón or Polymnia sonchifolia, also known as Peruvian ground apple, yacon, jacón, arboloco, yacuma, aricoma, earth apple and ancona, is a tuber that is related to the sunflower and a distant cousin of dahlias and Jerusalem artichokes. It is an herbaceous perennial plant and a member of the Asteraceae or Compositae family.
Yacón are an ideal food for people who suffer from diabetes and those who want to lose weight. They are known to be rich in dietary fiber and low in calories. Yacón tubers and leaves have high levels of fructo-oligosaccharide which is a type of sugar that cannot be recognized by the digestive system making them low in calories as a result. Fructo-oligosaccharide can aid in digestion and feeds beneficial bacteria in the gut which can play an important role in lowering the risk of diabetes. The bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids that have powerful anti-obesity effects when digested. Yacón contain a type of polyphenol called chlorogenic acid which has a strong antioxidant effect that is more than that of even red wine. Yacón tubers are rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium which can help people who suffer from high-blood pressure.
The Yacón tubers can be enjoyed raw or cooked, leaves can be used to make an herb tea that is used as a medicine and Yacón syrup can be used as a substitution for sugar in baked goods. Because Yacón tubers are sweet, juicy and crisp, they are perfect for use in salads. In addition, they can be grilled, fried, baked, sautéed and marinated. Use in curry, stir-fries, soups, fried dishes and juices. Choose ones that are slim without scratches on the surface and avoid those with shriveled cuts. A soft surface of Yacón tubers indicate that they are old, so pick ones that are heavy and have a firm surface. For storing, wrap them in a newspaper and store in a cool dark place for up to ten days.
In addition to a food source, Yacón have been used as a medicine by many cultures for hundreds years. Big Yacón leaves are used to wrap food during cooking in South America. The name, Yacón means "watery root" in Spanish.
Yacón are native of South America and they have been a food source for Andean Amerindians for more than one thousand years. The consumption of Yacón nearly ceased after the Spanish invasion, however, they have recently gained their popularity again as a diet sweetener in Peru and Japan. In 1984, a seeding company from New Zealand introduced Yacón to Japan. They are harvested in Hokkaido and Kagawa prefecture. It is rare to find Yacón in the US, but one or two varieties of Yacón that have white-flesh can be found there today.
Recipes that include Yacón Root. One is easiest, three is harder.
|ABC||Yacon and Strawberry Fruit Salad|
|The Gardener's Pantry||Yacon Carrot Salad with Wasabi|
|Fast Juice Diet||Yacon Juice and Yogurt|
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