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Can You Eat a Yucca Plant?

The Yucca. I see them for sale in the fruit and vegetable aisle of supermarkets in Spain. But can you eat them?
I see them for sale in the fruit and vegetable aisle of supermarkets in Spain. And for sale at my local food market.

A local fruit and veg seller calls it the "Spanish Bayonet."

So what on earth do you do with a yucca in the kitchen and which part of the plant can you eat?

I have taken advice from those in the know.

Adele writes a blog called The Food We Eat.

She says: "Using a small, sharp knife, make a slit down the middle of the plant, the long way. Using the edge of the knife, edge the blade under the skin and start to move the knife along until the whole skin comes off. Once you get this going a bit, the skin very easily detaches itself, usually in one piece.

"Cut the pieces into 4 sections, the long way. The pieces will look like triangles with one round edge. Use the knife to cut away the tough, stringy little root that is at the pointed edge of these pieces. You may have to cut it out of one of the pieces, or all four, depending on how big it was.

"Put the pieces in a pot, cover with cold, salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until soft, about 15 minutes. Drain, cool, cover and store in the fridge over night.

"When you are ready to eat the yucca plant, heat a generous amount of oil in a deep fryer or a deep pot with a cover. Submerge the pieces of cooked yucca in the hot oil and fry for a few minutes, turning over once in a while. Remove from the oil and place on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up some of the oil. The outside will be crispy and slightly yellowed, while the inside will be soft and white. Salt and pepper generously the tops of the cooked yucca."

It is served alone or with vegetables or rice.

But is Yucca good for you, or only something to eat if the cupboard is otherwise empty?

Matthew Austin writes interestingly about food you can survive on, for example if you are lost in the wild. I have no plans to do so, but knowledge is power!

He says: "The roots of the Yucca are high in vitamins and carbohydrates and can be used as an anti-inflammatory to treat the pain and swelling associated with arthritis. They can be cooked and eaten just like potatoes and, in fact, taste quite similar.

"Yucca root is still considered a staple in many countries, but has been ruled out in America because of its high content of a plant compound called Saponin, which can be toxic in large doses.

"Although there have been no reported cases of anyone dying from eating Yucca roots, the threat is still present. Some of that threat can be eliminated by boiling the roots through one change of water. This will remove most of the saponin from the roots and make them more palatable and easier to digest.

"Yucca flowers, meanwhile, have a mild sweet taste to them. You can eat them raw or boil them and add them to soups and stews; however, I recommend cooking everything before eating it. Raw plant material is extremely hard on the stomach.

"I have never liked the taste of the Yucca's fruits raw or cooked. They have always tasted like bitter squash to me and have an astringent aftertaste that reminds me of raw persimmon. But, in a survival situation you want to use every available food source that you can get your hands on.

"One of the main problems with Yucca fruit is that they have to be eaten at a particular time to be of any use to you. Under-ripened fruits are usually too bitter to stomach and over-ripened fruits are too hard to eat. There is a magical window in between these two stages where the fruit will be white and tender on the inside -- those are the fruits that you want to harvest and eat.

"Cook them just like you would the roots to remove some of the bitter taste and eat them right out of the shell or add them to soups and stews."

Son now you know. And so do I.

What do you think? Join in the discussion below