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Manihot esculenta

Yuca, or Cassava, is indigenous to the rainforest, but is now grown all over the tropics. It is one of the main crops for farmers and a primary source of carbohydrates for the people. Yuca is found everywhere among the Amazon rainforest and is a daily food source for the people of the lowland tropics.

The roots, which resemble sweet potatoes and are eaten in much the same way, yield yuca starch. The root can be boiled, baked, or roasted. yuca roots are also used for laundry starch, and are the source of tapioca, a preparation of cassava-root starch used as a food, in bread or as a thickening agent in liquid foods, notably puddings but also soups and juicy pies.

In processing tapioca, heat ruptures the yucca starch grains, converting them to small, irregular masses that are further baked into flake tapioca. A pellet form, known as pearl tapioca, is made by forcing the moist starch through sieves.

The root is also used to make alcoholic beverages by chewing the root and spitting it into a large pot where the saliva begins the fermentation process.

Medicinally, the juice from the root is squeezed out and used to treat scabies, skin problems, diarrhea, fever, chills, sore muscles.The yuca is native to Amazonia and has long been cultivated there by the indigenous populations.

The root of the yuca plant has a similar consistency to a potato; because it grows in abundance in the Amazon, local people use yuca as a staple in their diet.

The young tender leaves of the yuca plant are tasty and high in fiber. Special care must be taken while cooking the leaves because they are poisonous in the raw form.

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