Monday, February 1, 2010

Ample Cassava After the freeze

Cassava is an ancient tropical staple that roots VERY easily from cuttings, is very undemanding of soil and water, and suffers from very few disease and bugs issues, if any, in my yard. I have plants along the east and west sides of my backyard for privacy for my outdoor showers, and they got FRIED by the recent freeze. But, the tasty nutritious tubers are just fine underground and I am looking at a massive harvest by simply digging them up as needed. Since the plants were frozen to the ground, I am not digging up the whole plants as usual so they can resprout from the bases this spring. In my rich soil they will be 8-10 feet tall again by August. The leaves can be cooked as a very nutritious "green", and it has been found that fresh cassava leaves wilted on hot black plastic in the sun make good chicken fodder...I am trying that this summer for sure.
I like to boil tuber sections for about 20 minutes to reduce the level of bitter tasting cyanogenic glucossides (which I consider to be a nitrogen-based nutrient at LOW levels as cyanide is literally a building block of life on earth, and is a component of DNA!), let them cool then peel them by hand (most of those cyanide compounds are in the peel), slice into 1 inch thick sections and brown them in olive oil with sea salt and garlic. Yummy! Cuban restaurants sell cooked cassava root as "yuca" (vs. "yucca") and tapioca is made from the roots. I use cassava flour as a thickener far superior to corn starch....bags of it are cheap at Asian markets...I pay just 50 cents for a 14 ounce bag!

The link below will provide detailed data about this edible, tropical member of the Euphorbia Family. Hort Purdue is a wonderful resource!

Here is an African recipe for the leaves.

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