The Mexican Turnip: A Brief Overview
The Mexican turnip, more frequently known as the jicama, is a member of the legume family and indigenous to Mexico and much of Central America. It’s a staple food for many people, and is versatile and healthy enough to be a popular pantry addition for many restaurants as well. This article contains general information on the Mexican turnip and its many uses and benefits.
It’s not very easy to miss the jicama section of the produce department at your local grocery store. These rather large vegetables are easy to spot for several reasons. They resemble very large, rough skinned turnips or radishes, and are gray, tan, or brown in color. There is also a short root that will jut out of the bottom of this vegetable and is responsible for earning the jicama the nickname Mexican turnip.
While the outside may not be particularly appealing, the inside flesh of the jicama is quite remarkable. A bright, linen-colored white, the flesh looks like a rougher textured apple center or pear, although not as moist. Unlike these fruits, however, the flesh of the Mexican turnip does not oxidize and change color if left out for a while. Because of this, jicama is a popular add-in to party trays and veggie platters.
The jicama has a very pleasant characteristic that not too many other vegetables can claim. Although the flesh has a fresh, sweet flavor when raw, if you cook it the flesh acts like tofu and absorbs the flavors of the food it’s being cooked with. This means it can be used in almost every style of cooking, and can help add a little something special to anything from salads, to soups, to stuffing.
One of the best things about this vegetable is just how healthy it is for you. One adult sized serving has a remarkably high amount of Vitamin C. In addition to this, the vegetable is incredibly low in sodium, and has absolutely no fat in it, although it may seem like it should. To top it off, it also contains almost 25% of your daily fiber.
For diet-conscious people out there, you will be happy to know that one serving is a full cup of diced up flesh, and contains only 45 calories. This makes it one of the best foods that you can eat if you’re trying to lose weight. This is especially helpful if you have a large appetite but do not want to fill up with bread to stop the cravings.
Selecting the Right Mexican Turnip
It’s not difficult to select a proper jicama. They are extremely hardy legumes and are subsequently available year round. If you are interested in picking one up during your next shopping trip, don’t worry about squeezing and sniffing each one to find a good one. All that you need to be on the lookout for is any bruising on the skin. Since the skin is quite tough and sturdy, this generally won’t be a problem either. Once you get your jicama home, you can store it for up to two weeks bagged in the refrigerator.
Preparing Your Mexican Turnip
Actually peeling and slicing or cubing a jicama can be a pretty daunting task the first few times. Begin by taking a good knife and cutting off the top and the bottom of the veggie. This will allow you to ensure that it is stable and won’t go rolling around your cutting board.
A potato peeler is the best thing to use in order to peel the stringy skin off, but a knife will work in a pinch. If you use a knife though, be sure to get a good grip on the vegetable and keep the knife pointed away from you at all times in order to avoid an accident.
After that you can carefully begin to slice the flesh up or cube it. Remember: practice makes perfect, and you should not be discouraged if you have troubles cutting up one of these the first few times.