How to Store Yacon

Reader Contribution by William Woys Weaver
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In my article, Yummy Yacon, I indicate that you can store yacon for up to eight months. A reader recently wrote in saying he’s grown yacon for years, but he has trouble storing the tubers.

This is an interesting question because in my garden workshop in October, I served the ‘Marada’ variety of yacon, a violet-skinned, orange-fleshed yacon, from last year. Yacon are like dahlia tubers in that, under certain conditions, they wrinkle and soften (and then rot), so there seem to be mysterious temperatures and humidity levels at which they can either be lost or stored almost indefinitely (well, at least for one or two years).

The problem with yacon is that the sugars are not the same as, say, sweet potatoes, so the starch to sugar conversion, which is one problem with root storage, is very different. I have an old-fashioned cold pantry in my house, which I think keeps everything at about 40 degrees Fahrenheit; this temperature seems to work with my yacon, which are thrown loose into tubs. I get some that rot, of course, but I check every few weeks, so I cull them out. Plus, the small tubers are the first to go anyway, so I use them first in salads or other dishes.

I appreciate this reader’s question because yacon is rather new to North America. It’s well-known in South America for its low calories and its role in helping diabetics. Not only is storage of the crowns a problem (especially for the ‘Morada’ variety I like as opposed to the white-tubered ones — seems a little touch of frost helps with bud development), but storage of the tubers themselves is a separate issue. Sometimes they can be perfectly hard and crisp, then suddenly they turn.  I think cool storage conditions are critical. I suggest putting them down with potatoes in a root cellar (they won’t make the potatoes sprout — Inca farmers knew that), and seeing how they do. 

This is an excellent topic for input from other people growing and storing yacon. Shared experiences are extremely valuable, so please post a comment below if you have suggestions for the best ways to store yacon.

Photo by Scott Vlaun

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