Jicama, also known as yam bean or Mexican turnip, is a tuberous root vegetable native to Central America. It is grown primarily for its large, round and crunchy taproot, which provides a sweet and starchy flavor. Jicama can be eaten raw or cooked, and is a popular ingredient in various salads, salsas, and stir-fries due to its crisp texture and refreshing taste.
Jicama is not only a versatile addition to various dishes, but it also provides several health benefits. Loaded with fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants, this vegetable can aid in digestion, boost the immune system, and support heart health. Its low-calorie and low-carb content also make it a popular choice among health-conscious consumers and those on weight-loss diets.
Cooking with jicama often brings up several common questions and challenges for people who are not familiar with this versatile vegetable. Some people struggle with how to cut and peel it properly, while others are not sure how to cook it or what flavors it pairs well with. Getting the most out of jicama starts with selecting a firm, dry and evenly-colored specimen. It should not have any blemishes or signs of shriveling.
Peeling jicama can be done with a sharp peeler or a knife, but it's important to remember that the outer skin - as well as any other parts of the plant except the root - are toxic and should not be consumed.
In terms of cooking, jicama can be eaten raw or added to recipes for a crisp, crunch. It works wonderfully in salads, stir-fries, salsas and anywhere else you'd like a mild sweetness and crunchy texture.
As for its flavors, jicama pairs well with fresh, bright ingredients like lime juice, cilantro, chili, and bell peppers. Cooking it in herbal or citrus marinades prior to grilling or roasting can also invoke its flavors quite nicely. A little known trick for jicama is to bake its peelings with a sprinkle of salt and chili for a healthy crisp-like snack.
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Expiration & Storage Tips
When does jicama expire?
Once purchased, jicama can last for up to two weeks when stored properly in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. If cut, it should be used within a week and kept in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. If cooked, it can last in the refrigerator for up to three days. Jicama is not commonly frozen, but if done so, it should be used within six months to retain its best quality.
How do you tell if jicama is bad?
To check if jicama has gone bad, inspect it visually and feel its texture. If the skin is discolored, has dark spots or patches, then it may be spoiled. A slimy surface or a mushy texture are also signs of spoilage. Furthermore, a sour or strange smell is a strong indicator that the jicama has gone bad and should not be consumed.
Tips for storing jicama to extend shelf life
• Jicama should be stored in a cool, dry place away from sunlight, like a cupboard.
• If cut, keep jicama in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator to prevent it from drying out. Avoid rinsing the sliced jicama until it's ready to use, as added moisture can speed up spoilage.
• If you decide to freeze jicama, blanch it first before properly sealing in a freezer-safe bag or container. This will help preserve its crispness.
• Always remember, it's better to buy jicama in smaller amounts to ensure you consume it while it's still fresh.