Yacón is a South American tuber of the daisy plant family, Asteraceae, which among others includes echinaceas, sunflowers and jerusalem artichokes. It is a perennial and will resprout in the spring in regions with mild winters, but in harsher conditions the root crowns need to be harvested and kept cool but frost-free during the winter and replanted after the last frost in the spring.
We grew Yacón, Smallanthus sonchifolius, for the first time last year, from one small crown. The tuber yield was meager, which we attributed to cold, windy conditions, but there were crowns enough on that one plant to propagate several this year to give away to friends and fellow plant geeks, and grow four of them ourselves. This year we picked a sunny, sheltered spot and added a lot of compost to the planting hole. And what a response! Two of the plants are now harvested, yielding four kilos – almost nine pounds. Big tubers just waiting to enhance our fruit salads, slaws, curries and culinary experiments. 🙂
Yacón tastes like a cross between jerusalem artichokes and sugar cane, it is wonderfully crunchy and pleasantly sweet, good for your digestive system, good for soil life and can keep for months. Mother Earth News provides a more detailed description of its characteristics.
Hopefully we can keep the crowns happy through the winter, we are sooo ready for new yacón adventures in 2013. =D