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Jicama, Pachyrrhizus erosus:

Jicama, Mexican Potato, Yam Bean (Pachyrrhizus erosus)

Jicama, Mexican Potato, Yam Bean

These tasty tubers can weigh up to 5 lbs. with a mild, sweet texture much like water chestnuts. Adds crunch to salads, or can be made into a delicious appetizer if you peel and cut the turnip like root into strips, sprinkle with lemon or lime juice and salt. In Mexico, they dot it with the juices of hot chilies as well.

Growing Info
Jicama is a tropical plant and thus requires at least 9 months of warm growing season for good sized roots to mature. However, if soil is rich, light and there is at least 4 months of warm weather available, the resulting roots will be smaller, but still quite delicious. Presoak seeds in water for about 24 hours before planting. Can be started indoors about 8 to 10 weeks before the last spring frost. Transplant into your garden as soon is weather is warm, but be careful where you plant it as the ripe pods, leaves and seeds are toxic and narcotic. Care should be taken so that no humans or animals will mistakenly eat these parts. The immature seed pods are edible as well as of course the turnip like roots for which it is grown. Can be grown near a trellis for support or like pole beans. Can also be grown on the ground but then requires a lot of space. When they grow to about 3 feet tall, pinch the tips to promote horizontal branches. Tubers form as the days grow shorter and should be harvested before the first frost. If you allow the plants to go to seed, the root lobes will be small. Blossoms appear in late summer, but can be pinched out for maximum root growth.

Standard Uses: This is an unusual vegetable that is becoming increasingly popular with American cooks, but has been grown in its native Mexico for centuries. More and more U.S. supermarkets are now carrying this turnip shaped, usually four lobed root. Its skin is a brownish gray, but its flesh is white and crisp. It's flavor resembles that of water chestnuts but is sweeter. Makes a great appetizer and is a very good addition in both taste and texture when added to salads.

Jicama is a vine plant that makes an attractive ornament, deserving a place in your flower garden. It blooms profusely with white to lavender colored flowers that resemble sweet peas. Its leaves are heart shaped and large.

Medicinal Uses: The leaves, ripe seed pods and seeds are toxic and narcotic. No known medicinal use.

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