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The Instacart guide to jicama


About jicama

Jicama, also called the Mexican yam bean or Mexican turnip, is the edible tubular root of a Mexican vine of the same name. Jicama belongs to the bean family Fabaceae, and most plants of its genus are referred to as yam beans, though not all yam beans are called jicama. 

The fully developed jicama vine produces white or blue flowers and pods like lima beans. Two primary cultivars are marketed today, the jicama de agua and jicama de leche, referring to the consistency of their juice. The agua variety has an oblate root with a translucent, watery juice and enjoys the lion's share of popularity. The leche variety has a longer root with milky juice.

You might also find jicama called the Mexican potato, Chinese potato, or sweet turnip. In Peru and Ecuador, the Peruvian ground apple yacon goes by the name jicama, though it's entirely unrelated. Part of the sunflower family, the yacon has edible tubers.

The jicama vine grows up to 15 feet high with proper support, and the root can grow as long as 6 feet and weigh up to 9 pounds. Growing jicama takes time, requiring up to nine months of frost-free weather for large tubers and commercial viability. You can harvest the tubers in less time, but you sacrifice size. Jicama grows year-round in tropical environments and does well in sub-tropical areas when planted once the ground warms. 

Jicama came from Mexico and Central America, originating first in around 3000 BC in Peru. The Spanish conquistadors brought jicama back to Europe and Asia in the 17th century. 

On the outside, jicama has yellow, papery skin. Inside, jicama's creamy white flesh has a crisp texture similar to a raw potato or unripe pear. Jicama has a sweet, almost nutty flavor like apples or raw green beans and a starchy quality.

In the kitchen, jicama typically gets diced or julienned and eaten raw on salads. Traditional seasonings like salt, chili powder, and alguashte made from pumpkin seeds are combined with lemon or lime juice to add flavor to the raw jicama. Jicama's texture lends well to stir-fry dishes and soups as a starch component similar to a potato. 

In addition to alguashte and chili powder, jicama pairs well with ginger, cilantro, orange, red onion, sesame oil, and soy sauce. You can add jicama to salsa for a delightful crunch or saute it with vegetables or sauces that go with fish. Jicama's pairing versatility extends to fruits as well, and it is often used in Mexico with fruit salads.

Jicama Near Me

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