This is the article I wrote for our local magazine The Beacon
Story and Images by Ewa Bekiesch, Permaculture designer, educator, gardener and healthy home grown food advocate. Ewa has also the Food As Medicine certificate from the Monash University.
Manihot esculenta – Cassava, Manioc, Yuca
Versatile, delicious, drought-tolerant and quick and easy growing vegetable.
Cassava is a perennial woody shrub up to 3-4m, native to South America, growing best in tropical and subtropical regions around the globe. It is a very hardy plant and grows in nearly any type of soil. We grow it in our food forest for quite few years now. I have planted it in many different spots and it never disappointed me, however, like with any other plants, the better the soil, the better the plant.
There are many different kinds of cassava, some are sweet and some bitter and according to the “Food Standards Australia And New Zealand (link: https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/chemicals/cassava/Pages/default.aspx
– published in March 2017) “Only sweet cassava, containing low levels of cyanogenic glycosides (50mg/kg), is permitted to be used for food in Australia and New Zealand” so if you plan to grow Cassava in your vegetable garden, get it from a reliable source.
Cassava has many health benefits but it should NEVER be eaten raw! Since the harmful chemicals are found in raw cassava, it’s essential to cook it thoroughly — by boiling, roasting or baking, for example. The roots are calorie-rich and contain plenty of carbohydrate and key vitamins and minerals. Cassava is a good source of vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin. The cooked leaves are also edible and contain protein, iron and B vitamins. They have to be boiled for at least 15 minutes.
The Cassava root is mostly used to make Tapioca and is available in all grocery shops around Australia.
We use our Cassava in many different ways. We boil it in water and eat instead of potatoes. We deep fry the cooked cassava to make the most delicious chips. Roasted Cassava is also delicious. I also recently made my own Cassava starch and Cassava flour. Yes! These are two different products and they are both gluten free. We use the Cassava flour to make pasta, pancakes, cakes and bread! We use the leaves in curries, stews and all sorts of slow cooked dishes. Yumm!
Cassava is a very forgiving, productive and rewarding permaculture plant and one of the most important plant in our food forest. You are welcome to visit our website for more details at www.permaculturehaven.com
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Ewa from Permaculture Haven
Disclaimer: Any information given here is for educational purpose only. Make your own research before you try to eat or use any new plant.