by Daphne Lambert
We have been growing a number of roots and tubers at the Byres during 2020, including oca, liquorice, horseradish, yacon, tiger nuts, chicory and Chines artichokes. One of the most successful was yacon and you can read about it here
Yacon is a large plant from South America with huge, soft velvety green leaves and pretty little yellow flowers at the top of each stalk. The plant is very easy to grow and will thrive in most soil types but prefers a deep, free draining, fertile and well balanced loamy soil and needs be grown in full sun.
Yacon produces crowns and tubers. When it’s time to harvest, gently fork around the plant and ease out of the soil, the crown and tubers should come up in one go., but you may have to dig up a few of the tubers separately From 2 crowns we harvested around 9 kilos of tubers. They store well, providing you do not wash them which will cause them to rot.
Separate the crowns from the tubers. Place crowns in a sack of damp soil ready to plant out again the following year to give you another bumper crop! You can enjoy the tubers in a variety of ways, crunchy and juicy they are slightly reminiscent of a pear, they are delicious both raw and cooked; yacon are easy to add to fruit and vegetable salads and you can also steam or roast them.
Yacon syrup is made by juicing the tuber and gently evaporating to produce a syrup is similar in consistency to maple syrup. It is made by pressing the peeled root tubers into juice which is then concentrated into syrup by an evaporation process and makes it an ideal sugar replacement. The reason why Yacon root products are so good as a sugar alternative is because is because it contains fructooligosaccharide which is an indigestible polysaccharide. You get all the benefits of the sweet taste of fructooligosaccharides but none of the calories as they passes straight through the human digestive tract without being metabolised.
Yacon root products have a prebiotic action. In the colon, fructooligosaccharides FOS stimulates the proliferation of beneficial microflora such as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus Having a good amount of healthy bacteria is important to the digestion and immunity.
The roots can be dried and then ground into a powder to add to smoothies, biscuits and muffins.
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