Story and Images by Ewa Bekiesch, Permaculture designer, educator, gardener and healthy homegrown food advocate. Ewa has a degree in Sustainable Living from the University of Tasmania and a 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 a 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 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 carbohydrates 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 Cassava flour to make pasta, pancakes, cakes, and bread! We use the leaves in curries, stews, and all sorts of slow-cooked dishes. Yummy!
Cassava is a very forgiving, productive, and rewarding permaculture plant and one of the most important plants in our food forest. You are welcome to visit our website for more details at www.permaculturehaven.com Take the chance and subscribe to our Newsletter to keep you updated about the plants we grow, dishes we cook, and workshops and courses at our Permaculture homestead in Pacific Haven. You can also find us on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.
Cassava is very easy to grow from a cutting. Simply stick it into the soil (raised garden beds are best!), and watch it grow. You can buy some cuttings from my online shop HERE
I have made a few videos about Cassava on my YouTube channel. Simply click on the link HERE to watch it.
Ewa from Permaculture Haven
Disclaimer: Any information given here is for educational purposes only. Make your own research before you try to eat or use any new plant.