Experimenting with Yacon, Part 2

//Experimenting with Yacon, Part 2

Experimenting with Yacon, Part 2

In December of 2014 I contributed a post here on the Tuber producing plant Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius). The plant is traditionally grown in the central Andes mountains of South America from Columbia to Northern Argentina. That post is linked here:  http://www.narrowpassagepermaculture.com/experimenting-with-yacon/  


Yacon Plant


Our first year of growing Yacon was successful and I can say that, overall, the plant is not difficult to grow. That said–it does seem to be somewhat sensitive to heat and needs to have water during periods of hot and dry weather. The leaves are very unusual to see in the garden as it is unlike anything normally grown in most US gardens. The above ground leafy green material creates a large amount of biomass that can be chopped as mulch.



We waited until the plant was dead in late fall and harvested in early November.  The tubers were harvested with a flat blade pitch fork. Then tubers were carefully broken away from the rhizomes that are attached above the tubers and which produce the foliage.  I separated the rhizomes and potted most of them to be stored in a dark corner of the basement to plant again in the spring, thus expanding the total number of  plants. Some of the tubers were replanted to see if they would “winter over” the way Jerusalem Artichokes do (see article on Sunchokes here):  http://www.narrowpassagepermaculture.com/permaculture-plant-favorites-sunchokes/   


Recently dug Yacon


We used the tubers that were harvested  in a variety of ways to research how they might best become part of the homestead food production. As described in Part 1 the plant has its sugar from Fructooligosaccharides which taste sweet, but pass through the human digestive tract without being metabolized, hence have very little caloric value–an advantage to those with diabetes or individuals trying to lose weight. Additionally, these FOS plants have a prebiotic effect, meaning they are used by beneficial bacteria that enhance colon health and aid digestion.





Fried Yacon

One way we tried the Yacon was fried in coconut oil like you would potatoes. It tasted a bit sweeter than potatoes but was pretty close otherwise. We also chopped the tubers raw and tossed it in a salad, which gave the salad a pleasant added crunch



Finally, we took some of the smaller tubers and cut them to use in a fermentation experiment utilizing Fermentation caps with air locks. Order here:

Kraut Kaps© 3 Pack – Platinum

As Yacon is intrinsically prebiotic, to utilize the added advantage of fermentation seemed obvious. The results were great…think of firm pickled pears with the additional sauerkraut flavoring.


Pickled Yacon


Yacon and sauerkraut working on the shelf

By | 2018-01-07T14:48:21+00:00 January 24th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

About the Author:

Michael obtained his Permaculture Design Certification via Geoff Lawton, PRI, in 2013 , and had been a student of Permaculture Design independently for many years prior to obtaining the PDC. He is formerly trained in teaching Permaculture, and is a Graduate student in Agroforestry at the University of Missouri. His interest in Permaculture came through an interest in sustainable food production and a desire for nutrient rich foods. He is particularly interested in the value of food forests, perennial food production, and medicinal plants and herbs. Michael's experience as a licensed Financial Advisor and prior career in hospital administration and Human Resources have given him unique perspectives on the economics of Permaculture Design and the management of inputs. Michael is presently creating a demonstration site on acreage in the northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia (temperate climate). He is also looking to work in Aid work situations worldwide to further his experience in varied climates. His ultimate goal is to teach the PDC and Agroforestry domestically as well as abroad in developing countries where quality nutrition is not readily available. He is available as a permaculture design consultant and lecturer. His Bio here: http://permacultureglobal.org/users/8798-michael-cooley

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