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rarely, in the United States. The fact that it grows well so far from its Andean home suggests that, like the other Inca tuber crops, it, too, deserves much wider testing and recognition as a food plant. Coastal areas at high latitudes could well be ideal for production of mashua. It has already produced good yields in the Pacific Northwest of North America and in New Zealand. Nonetheless, daylength sensitivity may limit its widespread adoption until insensitive strains can be located.


The sharp flavor of most mashua tubers makes them unsuitable for eating raw,5 so they are usually boiled with meat to form a stew. (An ideal Andean stew contains meat, mashua, oca, potatoes, greens, quinoa, corn, rice, eggs, and herbs.) They are also eaten as a baked or fried vegetable and may be fried with eggs and onions. Near La Paz, they are soaked in molasses and eaten as sweets.

In New Zealand, where the plant has been newly introduced, it sets tubers well in open fields during a normal spring-to-autumn growing season. One grower cooks the tubers in soups and stews, to which they add a delicate, slightly fragrant flavor.6 After boiling for five minutes, the tubers appear whitish with purplish spots at the nodes. Young tubers need no peeling, but older tubers are always peeled.

In addition to the tubers, the tender young leaves are eaten as a boiled green vegetable. The flowers are also eaten. (The blossoms of the garden nasturtium are used in restaurants all across the United States, for instance.)

Because mashua is high yielding and its tubers are rich in carbohydrates as well as other nutrients, it has been suggested that it could be grown as a feed for pigs and calves. It could become an especially valuable and cheap stock feed because of its high yield and the high protein content of its foliage.


Mashua is quite nutritious for a root crop. Solids comprise about 20 percent and protein as much as 16 percent of the dry matter.7 However,

5 The hot taste is due to isothiocyanates (mustard oils), the compounds also responsible for the hot taste of radishes, mustard, and many crucifers, to which it is unrelated. Many mashua types are bland, however.
6 Information from A. Endt.
7 In one analysis, dry samples of the roots (per 100 g) contained: 371 calories, 11.4 g protein, 4.3 g fat, 78.6 g total carbohydrate, 5.7 g fiber, 5.7 g ash, 50 mg calcium, 300 mg phosphorus, 8.6 mg iron, 214 micrograms beta-carotene equivalent, 0.43 mg thiamin, 0.57 mg riboflavin, 4.3 mg niacin, and 476 mg ascorbic acid. Information from J. Duke.

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