Yacon = cake

It was actually a little while ago I harvested the Yacon in the polytunnel, the ones outside were harvested before Xmas.  I hadn’t done anything with the tubers ’til now – they have been sitting rather in the way in boxes in the hallway until I got round to finishing off weighing them etc.  Some of the tubers have shrivelled slightly, but they otherwise appear fine.  Even the one that broke in half when dug from outside still had no mould growing.

I originally had two sources for the Yacon which visually look identical, but have been performing slightly differently (the better one is from real seeds, although they appear to be out of season now).  I have been growing them side by side for comparison, and do think that these are slightly more productive for me.  I think I will search out some other varieties if they become available (lubera have a couple listed, but are only available later as plants, so are more expensive).  Unfortunately the few seedlings I managed to grow from cultivariable seed did not survive the winter last year.

Inside Yacon Oct 2018
Polytunnel plants competing for light

The plants in the polytunnel were basically just replanted in the same spots last year after harvesting – so overwintered in the soil.  There were two of each source planted in adjacent beds with a little more compost dug in around them.  They were watered when I remembered, but seemed to be thriving.  There was a little bit of caterpillar damage to the leaves (those ‘silver y’ moths again) but not enough to be a problem.  I think that the plants nearest the polytunnel wall may have suffered from overcrowding or overshading – In both cases that plant was smaller that the other.

Inside Yacon harvest feb 2019
Yacon harvest (polytunnel) February 2019

Harvested at the start of February 2019, the ‘real seeds’ plants had a total usable tuber weight of 22 Oz, the other had a total weight of 10 1/2 Oz.  I did not pull all the tubers off any of the plants.  The smallest would have been a bit fiddly and may well give the plants a bit of a start in the ground next year!  One of the plants (bottom right) has naturally split into several parts.  I may divide the larger clumps as well to give myself more plants this year.

Outside Yacon May 2018
Yacon plants for outside, growing on May 2018

The plants outside were overwintered in pots and grown on till about June, when I had enough room in the tea garden extension to plant them out.  They seemed to do pretty well considering they were fairly exposed and I deliberately did not clear the other plants from around them, since they would have been giving them a bit of shelter.

Yacon outside Oct 2018
Yacon outside on Skye October 2018

The leaves were a lot smaller and less green and the plants were far more shrubby than the plants under cover.  The holes in the leaves shown above I believe is wind damage.  The plants were harvested earlier than those inside – being killed off by frosts in mid December.   The smaller plant really had no useable tubers, the other (real seeds) had about 6 Oz; which was actually pretty similar to the poorer plants in the polytunnel.

Outside Yacon harvest Dec28
Outside Yacon harvest December 2018

Last year I concluded that the tubers are better considered a fruit rather than a vegetable and we have eaten them in various ways.  It made fantastic cake last year (based on a pear crumble cake) and also added to sweet and sour vegetables, and ‘risotto’ (a family chicken recipe actually a bit more like a paella).  As I said it can tend to discolour a bit after cooking, but still tastes fine.  Raw one could grate it into a coleslaw or dice into another salad to add sweetness.

Yacon cake #2
Yacon fruit cake

I have tried another cake recipe this year.  I want to see how much I can reduce the sugar content, since the Yacon is so sweet to taste.  This cake was based on a parsnip fruit cake recipe by Jennie Rutland in an old magazine (possibly Home Farmer again).  The Yacon was substituted for the parsnip and grated coarsely, the sugar content was reduced by about half and it still tastes delicious.  S. definitely approved and more was requested!

 

 

10 thoughts on “Yacon = cake

    1. Thanks. I’ve only been growing Yacon for a couple of years. It is in the sunflower family like jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), but is more tender like a dahlia. As a replant-perennial you keep and divide the main plant rather than sowing from seed. Flowers are quite rare. It’s interesting because the sweetness is not digestable sugar and therefore lower calorie. Also a ‘fruit’ in winter is quite useful. I may make the final tubers into a crumble….
      The grass is already showing green here, starting to grow, although no weed seedlings so not time to sow seeds yet!

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  1. thanks Nancy for a very interesting and informative post about yacon, mine will have to grow outside this year as the plastic on mini greenhouse has been blow to bits, though the yacon syrup I tried was very nice it took all the tubers for very little back so if my plants grow this year I will be more adventurous and versitle using them as you have been, mine are currently in pots in the non heated side porch, and I agree with your above comment winter fruit is useful, Frances

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    1. Judging by your success with other vegetables I’m sure that the Yacon will grow fine for you outside. If you can give it a bit of shelter and a bit of sun so much the better! Think of it as an underground pear that keeps pretty well and use it like that – just make it up! Or have a look online and see how the South Americans use it – they’ve had years more practice!

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      1. looking it up was how I found out about the syrup, and it was worth a try, just needs a lot more yacon, it is described as a ground pear, I did try some raw but personally didn’t find it tasted like pear, though it did taste nice,
        btw. so sorry I had meant to say your cake looks delicious, very yummy, I doubt it lasted long 🙂 Frances

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  2. I have been looking into yacon but wrong growing zone for us. I wondered about the versatility too since we have such a short growing season which means a large work load to get it all done. Is it a curiosity plant or a staple do you think? We will be putting in greenhouses.

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    1. I think you would struggle to get a good yield if you have cold autumns. I’m still exploring it and think it will be a useful ‘fruit’ over winter for me. It stores pretty well in a frost free place (I’ve just eaten the last of mine). If you can grow apples for store (which I can’t here) then these are probably more useful – they contain real calories, wheras the Yacon sweetness comes from indigestible sugars (it is a pleasant taste though). May be worth an experiment, just to see how if does, but not dedicate much space. If it does well, you can divide the plant to propagate it, rather than buying in new seed all the time.

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