17-23 January 2014 #690

The apple of his eyes

Yacón is a sweet, crunchy fruit that tastes similar to an apple, but unfortunately resembles the unassuming sweet potato. It comes in a variety of colours such as pink, orange, white or purple and is low in calories, making it a perfect snack for the health conscious. The fruit is useful in preventing acne, colon disease, constipation, diabetes, low immune system, poor gastrointestinal health, obesity, and osteoporosis.

Yacóns can be eaten raw or cooked and have traditionally been used in fruit salads, jams, puddings, and juices. Their peeled skin, once dried, can also be used to make nutritious organic tea.

The wonder fruit originates primarily from Peru, but can also grow in warm, moist climates and is typically farmed below 2,800 metres in mountain valleys. Yacón was introduced in Nepal by Sudarshan Karki in early 2000s after he switched from corn, maize, and wheat production to the South American fruit. An avid researcher, Karki began experimenting with yacóns, believing that once known, they would become popular additions to every Nepali household.

Unfortunately, due to their resemblance to a vegetable and the general lack of knowledge, yacóns are not as popular as initially imagined.

Geographically, the climate and agricultural conditions of Nepal are quite similar to those of the Andes in South America. Some of the basic staples used in Nepali cuisines such as potatoes and paprika also originate from this region. Perhaps in the future, other innovative farmers will adopt newer crops from Latin America.

 Karki grows yacóns 100 per cent organically at his farm in Kavre and sells them for Rs 250 per kilo. Those interested in buying or growing the fruit can contact the farmer directly.

Sudarshan Karki

9841219698/(01)4442244

Office: Lajimpat (opposite Mahaguthi)

Read also:

Green state of mind, MEGHNA BALI

Seeing green, SULAIMAN DAUD

Seeds of revolution, BEN AYERS

Everything organic, RUBEENA MAHATO


Sugar-free sweetener

INGREDIENTS

8-10 kg of yacón tubers

(four plants)

METHOD

Wash tubers thoroughly and put them in a food processor to make a pulp. Then boil the pulp in a large pan, keeping the temperature at approximately 103°C, to form a dark brown syrup. Four plants should be enough to produce one litre of syrup.


Pumpkin yacón muffins

INGREDIENTS

½ cup + 1 Tbsp yacón syrup (see above)

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp Allspice

½ cup pure canned pumpkin

½ cup powdered sugar

¼ salt

¼ cup coconut oil

¼ cup plain yoghurt

1¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour

¾ tsp ground ginger

1 tsp baking powder

1 large egg

METHOD

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and salt. In a separate large bowl, lightly beat egg and stir in pumpkin, oil, 1/2 cup yacón syrup and yoghurt. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix gently. Divide mixture among 12 muffin cups and bake for 22 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

After removing muffins from the oven, sift together powdered sugar and a dash of salt into a bowl. Stir in one tablespoon yacón syrup and two teaspoons water; mix until smooth. If the glaze seems too thick, add a little additional water; if it seems too thin, add more sifted powdered sugar.

Dip the tops of cooled muffins into the glaze, and let set for one hour before serving.

Makes 12 muffins

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