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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

What the Heck Is Jicama?

What the Heck Is Jicama?

Jicama (pronounced “hickuhmuh”) is a legume that looks very similar to a turnip, though the two are not actually related. It features a coarse yellow or brown exterior, with a white, crispy inside that resembles a pear. Long appreciated in South American and Mexican cuisine for its unique texture and sweet flavor, this root veggie is especially popular in salads and salsas.

Jicama is tasty eaten raw, but also makes a wonderful addition to stir-fry, particularly if added in a few minutes before serving. It can also be added to soups, stews, or stuffing and, due to its sweetness and high concentration of Vitamin C, is refreshing when juiced. It is also fat-free, and retains flavor well, which makes it great for snacking — for instance, cut into thin slices and sprinkled with herbs and spices, as a healthy alternative to potato chips.

Jicama roots can grow to be up to 50 pounds, with vines the reach 20 feet in length, though most commercially sold jicama weighs approximately three to four pounds. If a jicama root grows to be more than about ten inches across, its sugars are converted into starch, and it begins to acquire a woody flavor.

The following recipes provide a simple and tasty introduction to this remarkable vegetable. Be sure to peel off the outer layer before eating or cooking!

Jicama Salsa

Ingredients:
2 cups diced raw jicama
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 medium mild onion, diced
1 c. diced cucumber
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine jicama, green pepper, onion, and cucumber. Add oil, vinegar, and oregano, and toss lightly. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Jicama Salad

Ingredients:
3 cups jicama, cubed
4 oranges, peeled and wedged
4 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tbsp. limejuice
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. sour cream or yogurt

Mix jicama, oranges, onions, cilantro together in a large bowl. Chill for up to six hours, drain, and toss with limejuice, oil, sour cream before serving. Add salt to taste.

Jicama and Pepper Stir-Fry

Ingredients:
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 medium onion, sliced into wedges
1 tsp. grated ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Medium peppers, sliced into thin strips
1/2 lb jicama, cubed
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. sesame oil

Heat oil over medium heat in a wok or large pan. Add onion, gingerroot and garlic, and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add peppers and jicama and continue to stir-fry over high heat for two minutes. Add soy sauce and sugar and leave over heat for another minute. Sprinkle with lemon juice and sesame oil, stir, and serve.

Jicama-Apple Crumble

Ingredients:
3 cups jicama, sliced
2 cups apples, sliced
1/3 c. apple juice
2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup Bisquick (or substitute)
4 tbsp. butter
1/3 cup chopped nuts

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place sliced jicama and apples in a greased 8 x 8 inch baking dish. In a separate bowl, combine apple juice, sugar, and nutmeg, and pour over apples and jicama. Combine brown sugar and Bisquick, and gradually cut in butter until crumbly. Spread the crumble mixture over the apples and jicama, top with nuts, and bake 35 minutes.

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.