Jicama (Yam Bean, MexicanTurnip)

Description - Jicama, a legume, is grown for the large tuberous roots which can be eaten raw or cooked and are used as a source of starch. The jicama plant is a vine which grows to a length of 20 feet or more. The roots are light brown in color, and may weigh up to 50 pounds. Most of those on the market will weigh between three to five pounds.

Culture - Jicamas are actually perennials and produce their large roots after several years of growth. They are commonly found in frost free regions. In Texas, seed can be planted in the early spring and small tubers harvested before the first killing frost of the winter.

Availability - Jicamas are offered in Texas supermarkets but are more popular in South Texas. Most of those on the market are imported from Mexico and South America.

Selection - Jicamas are suitable for consumption at any stage of growth (size). Look for well formed tubers that appear fresh and are free of cracks and bruises.

Storage - Jicamas, like most other root crops, will store for relatively long periods of time in the refrigerator. However, conversion of starch to sugar will result if stored for excessive periods and should be avoided.

Nutrition Information - A 3-1/2 ounce serving of jicama provides 39 calories and about 25% of the RDA for vitamin C.

Preparation - Remove the peel including the fibrous flesh directly under the skin. Cut or slice and serve raw or use as a substitute for water chestnuts. Saute or stir fry -- it stays crisp when cooked. A one pound jicama yields about three cups chopped or three cups shredded flesh.

Microwave Instructions - Peel and cut one pound into " cubes or julienne strips. Place in 2-quart covered casserole with 1/4 cup water; microwave on high for 8-9 minutes. Stir once. Serve with honey, butter, salt and pepper , sweet and sour sauce, sour cream or yogurt dressing.

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