Cassava isn’t the most glamorous of vegetables to look at, but it’s an amazingly versatile one. Perhaps you’ve passed them by in the supermarket and thought about buying some, but you weren’t sure how it should be prepared, cooked and what it would go with!
If you want to find out a bit more about these brown, leathery tubers and how to use them, here’s 15 things you probably never knew about the cassava.
15 things you didn't know about Cassava
1. It has many names
Cassava is known by many names, such as mandioca, aipim, Brazilian arrowroot, tapioca, yuca, singkong (Thailand), mogo (Africa), balinghoy or kamoteng kahoy (Philippines) and many others.
2. It has edible leaves
Cassava plants have large, green leaves that are edible, but the vegetable we eat is the tuber, which grows underground.
3. It goes off quickly
Cassavas go off very quickly, some varieties will spoil after just a few days. In the UK, most of the cassava on sale is given a wax coating to preserve them.
4. The inside reveals its quality
To check if the cassava is still fresh, trim the ends off and check what color it is inside. If it’s good, the inside will be white, if it’s gone off, it will be black.
5. It can't be eaten raw
You can’t eat raw cassava. It contains harmful toxins, which are concentrated in the outer skin. Peel it properly, making sure all the brown skin is removed, and make sure it’s cooked thoroughly.
6. Tapioca flour is gluten free
Tapioca flour is dried, ground cassava root. It’s totally gluten free and works well as a thickening agent.
7. It is used in bubble tea
The pearls in bubble tea are made from moistened tapioca flour. The pearls are made by forcing the flour through a sieve.
8. It makes good fries
Fancy some healthier fries? Cassava makes really good fries and chips. Peel the cassava into large sections, boil it until soft, break into chip or fry sized bits and then deep fry.
9. It is used into sweets and desserts
‘Tape’ is made from fermented cassava, and is popular in Indonesia, where it is made into sweets and desserts.
10. It is used into popular street food in Brazil
Have you ever heard of Brazilian tapioca? It’s a popular street food in Brazil, and consists of cassava flour mixed with water and formed into pancakes by pushing the mixture through a sieve into a dry, hot pan. It’s served with different savory or sweet fillings.
11. It can help developing countries
Bill and Melinda Gates are investing in creating a type of cassava with enhanced nutritional qualities to try and help developing countries.
12. It is used into a traditional dish in Bermuda
In Bermuda, a traditional dish served at Christmas is known as cassava pie. This sweet dish is made from layers of cassava, chicken, sugar, butter, condensed milk, eggs and spices.
13. It is used to make the African gari
African ‘gari’, which is similar to couscous is made from cassava that has been soaked, grated, then sun dried before being pressed through a sieve.
14. It is used into popular Indian dishes
Chili Mogo or Pili Pili Mogo are two Indian cassava dishes. They are extremely popular, and are both spicy vegetable curries.
15. It is used into African breakfast dishes
‘Gari foto’ is a popular African breakfast dish. It’s made by frying cassava with onions, tomatoes, and is served with fried eggs.