Cassava (also known as yucca, tapioca, manioc and manihot) is a shrubby root vegetable which is widely grown in Jamaica. The most commonly eaten part of the vegetable is its large starchy roots. These can be ground in to a flour for bread and dumplings, boiled and fried like potatoes or fermented to make an alcoholic beverage. Cassava is a hardy crop which can withstand droughts and grow in land which is unsuitable for other types of crop.
Uncooked cassava contains potentially dangerous levels of cyanogenic glucosides. These can be reduced to a safe level by squeezing out the juice and cooking. Once picked, cassava does not have a long shelf life and the flavour deteriorates after a day or so. After the skin has been peeled from cassava roots the underlying flesh darkens in a matter of seconds. To prevent this from happening peeled cassava should be kept submerged in water until it is ready to be cooked or further processed.
© 2006 Jamaica Travel and Culture .com