Imagine biting into a watermelon, but instead of a juicy and watery mess, your teeth slid through a crisp, apple like texture. This tuber is angel food. Filled with inulin, a sweet indigestible sugar (few calories), this tuber is the dieters dream. It is also my dream and several of my friends dreams to have an army of Yacon spread across Oakland. The plant does extremely well in the Bay Area.
Yacon is a perennial tuber in the Asterids family, closely related to sunflowers and Jerusalem artichokes. Native to the Andes, it is an important South American domesticated crop. Yacon syrup is a grabbing attention as a health product for its immunity boost and digestion assistance
Yacon should be planted early in the Spring to allow ample time for crown roots to form before winter. This is less of a concern in the Bay Area where our few frosts won’t threaten root structures. Find a sunny spot with healthy soil. Yacon can grow as tall as 2 meters and will produce small yellow flowers. These plants are incredibly productive, yields of 2 kilos per plant have been documented. You can store the edible roots for several months after harvest.
When you dig up the root system in Autumn, look for two different types of root structures. The large potato looking tubers are the one’s you should harvest to eat. Smaller structures with eyelets and should be divided and planted again for the Spring. Don’t let the roots dry out while you store them to plant in the Spring.
Yacon leaves and stems can be cooked as vegetables in a stir fry or salad.
Look how excited these guys are about their Yacon Harvest:
Spec that Pather’s Sweatshirt!