This could well be a vegetable you have never experienced before – I know I haven't! As we are such keen vegetable eaters in our home, I am going to have to find a source.
The texture and taste of jicama
Jicama has a crisp, white, solid flesh with a texture similar to a turnip but here is the surprise, a taste like an apple. The flesh may be tasty but the thick, tough skin is inedible (and even toxic) but all the better to protect the goodness inside. This root vegetable originated in Mexico but now grows in the warmer climates of Central America, the Caribbean, the Andes Mountain regions and Southern Asia.
How to choose and store jicama
Once you have found your source, look for firm, round tubers. They should be heavy for their size with no softness or shriveling. You can safely store them in a cool, dark place for up to four weeks but they will need to be refrigerated (for up to a week) once cut. Peel and store pieces (tightly wrapped) in the crisper.
Preparation of jicama
Wash them just as you would do potatoes before slicing off the top and bottom. Remove the rest of the peel in strips from top to bottom with a knife. This versatile veggie can be chopped, cubed, sliced into fine sticks and then cooked or even eaten raw to be used in stir fries, salads, soups or stews. Jicama is a good companion with oranges and apples or carrots and onions along with meats and seafood. You will find it featured in Mexican recipes. Just use sparingly because of its high carbohydrates content.
Some suggestions are:
Cut jicama into matchsticks before tossing with balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil and topping with slices of avocado, a squeeze of lime juice and a little minced red onion.
Peel and slice, sprinkle with lime juice and chili powder before serving with salsa and guacamole.
Use jicama as a substitute for water chestnuts in Asian dishes – because it retains its crispness when cooked.
Cut in sticks and dip in "pumpkin and sun flower seed" butters.
And those health benefits?
Low in calories but with plenty of vital nutrients, jicama is high in a fiber known as oligofructose inulin (with its zero calories). Inulin promotes good bone health by enhancing absorption of calcium from other foods, protecting against osteoporosis.
Inulin acts as a probiotic role in the intestine, promoting good bacteria growth to maintain both a healthy colon and balanced immunity.
Jicama has an especially low glycemic index.
High in vitamin C, jicama provides 44% of the daily value in each serving.
Jicama is a powerful antioxidant protecting against free radicals and, in the process, possibly preventing cancer, inflammation, viral coughs, colds and infections.
High in potassium, jicama lowers the risk of heart disease while vitamins like folates, riboflavin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, and thiamin are present along with the minerals magnesium, copper, iron and manganese.
Perhaps it is time to give this previously ignored vegetable a chance to shine!
Jane writes for Healing Natural Oils, a producer and retailer of high-quality, all-natural treatments for a variety of conditions as well as a range of beauty products. Apart from writing about those various conditions, she also covers general health, environmental and other subjects of interest. She has lived in Kenya as well as Cape Town, South Africa and spent time in San Diego, USA. She now lives in Somerset, England with regular visits from her far-flung children and grandchildren. She is a keen gardener and enjoys growing fresh fruit and vegetables with her husband on their joint allotment. As a result, there is something available to use in the kitchen virtually all year round. Her regular posts can be found on our blog.