Written by Joyce Reich, SNAP-Ed Extension Associate
Have you ever seen a somewhat large brown thing resembling a turnip or potato in the produce section of the supermarket and wondered…What in the world is that thing? How do you fix it? Or, is it any good?
The answer is jicama. It is easy to prepare, and it is wonderfully fresh, crunchy and delicious!
Jicama (HEE-kah-ma) is an edible root with a bark-like thin skin and crisp juicy white flesh that is mild in flavor. It has been described as a savory apple with the flavor of a cross between a water chestnut and a pear. Jicama is good for you! It is sodium and fat-free, a good source of fiber, and an excellent source of vitamin C.
Jicama is native to Mexico where it’s sometimes referred to as the Mexican potato, but the plant is actually a member of the bean family! In Central America, jicama is often sold by street vendors and eaten raw seasoned with lemon or lime juice and chili powder. The root is the only edible portion of the plant.
Jicama is available year-round in the produce section of many supermarkets. Select the ones that are firm and unblemished with a slightly silky sheen. Once purchased, store jicama for up to two weeks in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
To use, you need to peel away the skin. You can use a sharp vegetable peeler, but some people have better luck using a chef’s knife. If using a knife, cut a thin slice from each end to create a flat surface. Rest the jicama on the cut end and following the curve of the jicama, slide your knife under the skin cutting it away from top to bottom.
After peeling, cut the white flesh into even sized slabs, then cut through the slabs to produce sticks which can then be cut across into cubes. You can also shave the jicama into thin slices on a mandolin, then use the thin slices as is or cut across them to make “matchsticks.”
The white flesh of a jicama is unique in that it doesn’t discolor and turn brown like many other white-fleshed produce does. So there is no need to rub it with citrus juice. But what do you do with it? Jicama is most widely used in its raw state for its crunch and crisp texture, but it can be cooked too! Fruits and Veggies More Matters® actually has a Top Ten Ways to Enjoy Jicama list.
Among them are:
Toss in a salad.
Add to a stir fry.
Make a relish.
Make jicama chips, either cold or hot!
Add to coleslaw.
And the simplest….Enjoy fresh on a veggie tray!
Credit: Produce for Better Health Foundation
- 1 medium red onion, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
- 1 3/4 tsp. salt
- 3 T. fresh lime juice
- 2 T. canola oil
- 2 T. sugar
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 2 1/2 pounds jicama, peeled and cut into julienne strips (about 10 cups)
- 1/3 c. finely chopped fresh cilantro
- Soak onion in 1 cup cold water with 1/2 tsp. salt for 15 minutes. This will make the onion flavor milder.
- Meanwhile, peel and cut jicama.
- Chop the cilantro.
- Whisk together lime juice, oil, sugar, pepper and remaining 3/4 tsp. salt in a large bowl until combined well.
- Drain onion in a sieve, then rinse under cold water and pat dry.
- Add onion, jicama, and cilantro to dressing in a bowl and toss well. Add salt to taste.
Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories 97, Carbohydrates 16 g, Total Fat 3.7 g, Saturated Fat 0.3 g, % of Calories from Fat 33%, Cholesterol 0 mg, Dietary Fiber 8 g, Sodium 372 mg, Protein 1 g
This post was reviewed by Morgan Hartline MS, RD, LMNT. Photos by Joyce Reich.