Jicama

Jicama is a plant under the perennial vine type which grows in countries with tropical to semi-tropical climate. Its growth can be compared to lima bean or any other type of bean plants. However, what sets it apart from the other bean species plants is its fleshy, globular, starchy, and turnip-like edible root underneath the ground surface. [1]


Jicama Plant picture

Picture 1: Jicama Plant
Source: greenbeanconnection.wordpress.com

The outer surface of jicama has a texture which is similar to a turnip. As for its taste, it is close to that of an apple. Jicama is also known as “Mexican Yam Bean” and “Mexican Water Chestnut” due to its white, crisp, solid flesh inside.

Though this is the case, jicama is different from other yams because of its skin. Jicama skin appears tough, thick, and unappealing. Moreover, the peels, vines, and leaves of jicama cannot be eaten because of the organic toxin called rotenone. [2]

As for the flowers, jicama flowers are either blue or white in color. Meanwhile, the pods which appear like lima beans are bore on fully developed plants. The most common jicamas found in the market is under the Pachyrrizus erosus kind. There are two cultivated forms of P. erosus. These are jicama de leche (elongated shape and with milky juice) and jicama de agua (oblate/top-shaped and translucent juice) .

Jicama in English has several terms in which it is known for. Some of these are Mexican potato, Chinese turnip, and Chinese Potato. [3]

Growing Jicama

As mentioned earlier, jicama grows in countries with tropical and semi-tropical climate. This plant likes full sun as well as enough space. When it is hardened off and the frost in the environment is gone, it can be planted. If the soil is organically rich, pliable, and light, it is possible that only 4 months will be needed for the smaller roots of the plant to mature. [4]

Generally, jicama takes 9 months to be ready for harvest. If it is going to be planted in a warm temperature area, make sure that the area has at least 5 months free of frost. Then, sow the seed 8 to 10 weeks prior to the last spring frost. Bottom heat will be needed to facilitate germination. Either bottom heat propagator or hot water system can be utilized for this purpose.

If the plant will be grown in subtropical places, the seeds can be sown in spring, once the soil has been warmed up. Furthermore, if the area to be used is in tropical location, seeds can be planted all throughout the year. [5]

The vine of the jicama plant can grow up to 4-5 meters in height with suitable support. The lengths of its root can reach up to 2 meters and weigh up to 20 kg. In 2010, the heaviest jicama root ever grown was discovered in Philippines. The recorded weight was 23 kg. [3]

Jicama Nutrition

Just like other fruits and vegetables, jicama also contains lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It is abundant in Vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential for skin health, bone health, and immune system. 40% of RDA of vitamin C is found in raw slices of jicama. Also, the fruit has vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin B9, and folate. Mostly, these vitamins are beneficial to the nervous system, musculoskeletal, and cardiovascular system.

Minerals such as magnesium, manganese, potassium, and iron are all contained in jicama. These are all needed to make the body function properly. 4% of the adult’s daily requirement for minerals can be provided by this fruit.

Meanwhile, jicama has been found by researchers to be an excellent source of phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are chemicals which are known to have anti-oxidative properties. Regular consumption of foods rich in antioxidans may help in risk reduction of cancers, heart diseases, cataracts, neurodegenerative disorders, and diabetes.  [6]

Jicama Calories

Jicama is one of the vegetables which are low in calories but contains high levels of a few vital nutrients. In one cup serving of this fruit, 49 calories can be obtained. [2]

Jicama Carbohydrates

In contrast to calories, jicama is rich in carbohydrates. This comes in dietary fiber form [7]. Jicama’s fiber is not just the average fiber. It is actually infused with oligofructose inulin, a fructan which has no calories and does not metabolize in the body. This is what makes jicama to have a very low glycemic index which makes the fruit excellent for diabetics and people who are trying to lose weight. Aside from that, inulin also works by improving bone health by increasing calcium absorption for prevention of osteopororsis as well as promoting “good bacteria” growth for disease immunity and digestive health [2].

Jicama Recipes

Jicama Slaw

Jicama Slaw image

 

Picture 2: Jicama Slaw
Source: opensourcefood.com

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. peeled and cut jicama strips
  • 1 medium finely chopped red onion
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cinantro
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar

Procedure:

Toss into a large bowl the salt, sugar, pepper, lime juice, and oil. Whisk them together well. Finally, add onion, cilantro, and jicama into the bowl. Mix. Then, you’re done! [2]

Jicama Salad

Jicama Salad photo

Picture 3: Jicama Salad
Source: simplyrecipes.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ lbs peeled, cubed or julienned jicama
  • ½ finely diced yellow pepper
  • ½ finely diced red bell pepper
  • ½ finely diced green bell pepper
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cinantro
  • 1 navel orange, peeled, sliced crosswise
  • ½ large cucumber chopped and seeded
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • Pinch of paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • salt

Procedure:

Pour into a large serving bowl the bell peppers, cucumber, red onion, jicama, orange, and cilantro. Add lime juice. Put a pinch of paprika and cayenne. Then, add salt as desired. Wait for about half an hour before serving.  [8]

Jicama Chips

Jicama Chips picture

Picture 4: Jicama Chips
Source: thisblogisforwomen.com

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 large peeled and thinly sliced jicamas
  • Smoked paprika
  • Himalayan Salt
  • Braggs Liquid Aminos

Procedure:

Mix the jicama slices together with the Braggs Liquid Aminos. Put them on dehydrator screens. After that, sprinkle them with Himalayan salt and smoked paprika. Set the oven at 118. Wait for it to dry completely and become crunchy. [9]

Jicama Fries

Jicama Fries image

Picture 5: Jicama Fries
Source: rawmountainkitchen.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 jicama, peeled and thinly sliced into strips
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • A pinch salt
  • A pinch cayenne

Procedure:

Combine all ingredients into a large bowl. Make sure that the fries are well-coated. You may bake the fries by setting the oven on 400F for 25 minutes.For added flavor, dressings can be used as well. [10]

References:

  1. http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/jicama.html
  2. http://foodfacts.mercola.com/jicama.html
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pachyrhizus_erosus
  4. http://organicgardening.about.com/od/howtogrowveggies/a/How-To-Grow-Organic-Jicama.htm
  5. https://www.greenharvest.com.au/SeedOrganic/VegetableGrowingInformation/JicamaGrowingInformation.html
  6. http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/jicama-healthy-4933.html
  7. http://letsgohealthy.blogspot.com/2013/03/jicama-health-benefits-and-nutrition.html
  8. http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/jicama_salad/
  9. http://www.rawmazing.com/raw-jicama-chips/
  10. http://www.healthfulpursuit.com/2013/08/5-minute-jicama-fries/

Published on by under Nutrition and Diet.
Article was last reviewed on June 4th, 2015.



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