A refreshing root vegetable whose popularity has spread from South America to Southeast Asia, Jicama is also known as a Mexican yam or Mexican turnip. Although it resembles a turnip, the two are not related! Jicama originated in South America and is harvested from May to November. The jicama plant is a vine that grows to be about 20 feet long, but the root is the only edible part.
What Is It Used For?
Jicama is an important ingredient in Mexican cuisine, and also widely used as a substitute for water chestnuts in Chinese food and in Philippine, Japanese, Malaysian, and Vietnamese dishes. Its texture is a mix between an apple and a raw potato, and it is usually eaten raw or with salt, lemon, or lime juice and chili powder. Jicama can also be cooked, and its ability to capture flavor makes the jicama ideal for culinary experimentation. Jicama sticks are a perfect healthy alternative for dips instead of chips or crackers, and it is also great chopped in salads, salsas, stews and stuffing.
Fun fact: Although it should be harvested when it weighs less than five pounds, a jicama can grow up to 50 pounds!
How Is It Good For Me?
Jicama is a fat free, low-calorie vegetable. It is an excellent source of vitamin C, which works as an antioxidant to inhibit the damage of harmful free radicals to our bodies and functions as an anti-inflammatory. As an additional bonus, fresh jicama is one of the best sources of dietary fiber, making it a healthy snack addition for everyone!
Choosing Your Jicama
Excited about this low-calorie snack? When shopping for jicama, look for those that are medium sized and firm, with dry roots and no wet or soft spots, as those suggest rotting. Don’t be swayed by a larger jicama, as a bigger size tends to indicate less flavor. When refrigerated, jicama will keep for up to two weeks. When you're ready to eat one, peel the brown outer layer to reveal a white inside that is sweet, starchy and crunchy!
Here is a great recipe you can try at home that is both great tasting and refreshing.
Watermelon Jicama Salad
Makes: 6 servings
- 1 medium jicama, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
- 4 cups watermelon, seeds removed and cut into ½ inch cubes (from a 3-lb piece, rind discarded)
- ½ cup fresh lime juice
- ⅓ cup fresh mint leaves, roughly torn
- 1-2 tablespoons honey
- Salt & pepper, to taste
Toss the jicama, watermelon, lime juice, mint and honey in a bowl; cover. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Refrigerate for 2 hours and enjoy!