Yucca Root

Yucca History

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Yucca Root, Cassava, Manioc

A staple around the world especially in poor cultures in tropical climates it is as important to Africa, Asia, and the tropics as Potatoes are to us.  Yucca is also called "cassava" and can be found in any Latin market.  Columbus said that Manioc was a gardener's dream  because he observed that cuttings mature in only a few months to plants averaging 9 feet in height and producing tuberous roots from one to two feet in length and two to six inches across.  These roots can weigh up to ten pounds and a single plant can produce fifty pounds of edible root. Tapioca is a product derived from the yucca root. In Brazil, a shiny white flour called farinha de mandioca is made from the yucca.  It is eaten with stews, as a side dish, and used as a thickener, a similar flour is made in Nigeria and called gari.

Yucca or Manioc is often toxic.  Some plants generate lethal doses of prussic (hydro cyanic) acid.  The poison is not present in undisturbed plants.  Small sacs under the peel or bark exude a milky latex when the bark is cut.  This white juice contains a cyanogenetic glucose that breaks down into prussic acid, glucose and acetone.  The natural enzyme linase frees the acid, and it action can be stimulated by soaking the root in water, by cutting up the root to increase contact between linase and the acid, or by heating the root but not above 167 degrees (75 degrees Centigrade) since higher temperatures kills the linase.  Once the acid has been liberated into the air the root is safe to eat.

Selecting and Handling  Should be very firm when purchased, with no shriveling or softness present.  The roots should feel heavy for their size,

Nutrition  3.5 oz. = 100 calories

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