How to Store Yacon

| 10/26/2010 4:38:37 PM

Tags: root vegetables, storing vegetables, yacon,

YaconTubers.jpgIn 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

jacques hesen
9/2/2011 4:42:15 AM

First of all it is important to harvest the tubers without damages or breackages. We are still eating tubers from last year now (early september). The tubers I have stored in a wooden box and I have mixed the tubers with dry sand (used by masonry)in the basement, wich is frostfree and not so cold at all. Only we notice some tubers have a kind of porosity, this means the flesh does seem not as firm as when fresly harvested. About 15 % of the roots did develop rot, most likely because the roots had slight damages at the time of putting in storage. We are convinces that yacon tubers can be stored quite easily for up to one year (why would you want to store for a linger period of time??)

judy soulliard
11/10/2010 6:57:55 PM

I have been growing yacon for several years and have found that when I harvest the yacon after the frost has killed the plant storing the tubers in damp sand in the basement works well. I clean the tubors and dry them in the sun then place them in a 5 gallon bucket covering each layer with sand. I keep the sand lightly moist thru the winter and store the bucket in my unfinished basement which is in the low 50's over winter. They lasted well into the summer until they were gone. I have found that placing the crowns that have most of the dirt removed and stalks cut to 2-3 inces, into a tub of sand which covers the roots works well also. I lightly sprinkle the crowns with water occasionally so they don't dry out. I had three crowns last year, and started many plants. I gave some away and planted about 17! Can't get many people interested in growing them in my area but will have many tubers when finished harvesting this year. Will dry some yacon chips and look for recipes as well as enjoy them just raw.

frank van keirsbilck
10/29/2010 11:50:50 AM

I store yacon like this: I leave the soil between the tubers, cut the stalks to just about 2 or 3 inches long, and put them in a dark spot, cool and quite humid, as you mention, the perfect spot for keeping potatoes. I don't separate the tubers from the plants, so everything is just a very big cluster. What works as good is storing them completely covered in sand or potting soil or even compost. Another method is cutting the main stalks, cut the big tubers,store these cool and place the remaining part in a pot, place this pot in a light and cool position (frost-free!) during the winter, and you can overwinter the plants. All my yacon varieties (6 or 7, two could be just one) store and keep in this way, some do sweeten up faster in the storage room, the fastest one to sweeten up here is a purple skinned variety which was (and probably still is ) grown in New Zealand, this is not the morado variety!

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