Are you ready for a change in your vegetable menu? Give jicama a try (pronounced hic-uh-mah)! It’s a delicious treat full of vitamin C and fiber and will add a crunch to your palate. We introduced jicama to the students in our after-school program. The youth loved it and shared it with their families.
A Food $ense (SNAP-Ed) Guide to Eating Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Jicama is a crispy, sweet, mild, bulbous root vegetable that is light tan in color and shaped like a small pumpkin. Jicama’s flavor is similar to an apple or pear, but its texture more closely resembles a radish or turnip. Some jicama is grown in Texas and Florida, but it is typically grown in semitropical or tropical climates, such as Mexico and Central and South America. Other names for jicama include yam bean, Mexican water chestnut, Mexican potato, and Mexican turnip (Bender, 2016; Park & Han, 2015; Park, Lee, & Han, 2016; Ramos-de-la-Pena, Renard, Wicker, & Contreras-Esquivel, 2013; Stevenson, Jane, & Inglett, 2007).
120 grams of fresh, raw jicama provides 45 calories and approximately 40 percent RDA of vitamin C. Jicama is an excellent source of dietary fiber providing 24 percent RDA and less than 1 percent fat. Jicama also contains small amounts of vitamin B complex, vitamin E, and potassium. In addition, Jicama contains healthy amounts of magnesium, copper, iron, manganese, and antioxidants. Jicama is 86-90 percent water (United States Department of Agriculture, 2016).
Jicama’s low glycemic load makes it an excellent snack for diabetics and dieters, or anyone watching their blood sugar and insulin (Park & Han, 2015; Park, Lee, & Han, 2016).
Jicama is available year-round in most grocery stores. The market is flooded with jicama from Central America in the spring and summer.
The most popular method of eating jicama is in raw form. It can be cut into small cubes, sticks, or slices, and can be shredded and added to snacks, salads, and salsas for added crispness. Jicama tends to absorb sauces without losing its crunch, making it an excellent addition to stir-fry and salsa. Jicama can also be cooked and is often combined with lime, lemon, cilantro, ginger, and chili powder. The skin of jicama is inedible (Neff, 2007).
When shopping for jicama, chose medium-sized, firm tubers with dry roots. Larger jicama can be eaten but tends to be dry, starchy, and less flavorful. Avoid blemishes, wrinkles, or soft spots (D’Sa, 2004).
Cleaning and Preparing:
Wash jicama and remove the outer peel and the slightly papery layer just under the skin with a sharp paring knife or vegetable peeler. Cutting the jicama in half, then in half again, makes it is easier to handle (Bender, 2016; D’Sa, 2004).
Store uncut jicama in a cool, dry place uncovered for up to 3 weeks (similar to potatoes). The ideal temperature is 55-59 degrees. Storing at lower temperatures or in a moist area may cause discoloration and decay. Once jicama is cut or sliced, refrigerate covered for up to three weeks (D’Sa, 2004).
Some ideas for enjoying jicama include:
- Serve on vegetable trays along with carrots, celery, and other raw vegetables.
- Combine with fresh berries and other fruits to make a fruit salad with a crunch.
- Use in stir-fry, salads, or slaws.
- French fry – baked or deep fried.
- Peel, chop, and boil jicama for about 15 minutes until softened. Drain, mash, and season with butter, salt, and pepper.
- Bake at 375° for 45 minutes and top with sour cream and butter and sprinkle with fresh herbs, chili powder, or chopped chives.
- Mix shredded or finely diced jicama with pineapple and avocado to make a yummy salsa.
- Add to soups and stews.
Jicama Fruit Salad
Makes 7 servings
- 3 cups jicama, sliced (small)
- 2 cups watermelon (cut into pieces)
- 1 mango
- 1 papaya (small)
- 1 lime
- 2 kiwi
- 1 tsp. lime or orange juice
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. chili powder
Wash, peel, and cut jicama into thin slices. Wash, peel, and cut the rest of the fruit into slices or medium-sized pieces. On a large plate, arrange the fruit. Sprinkle the lime or orange juice over the fruit. In a small bowl, mix the salt and chili powder. Sprinkle over the fruit and serve. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.
Makes 4-6 servings
- 1 lb. jicama, peeled
- 1 tbsp. coconut oil
- ¼ tsp. Himalayan salt
- ¼ tsp. paprika
- ground black pepper
- Slice peeled jicama into thin, matchstick-shaped fries.
- Combine sliced jicama with coconut oil and spices.
- Toss well to combine.
- Evenly spread the fries on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
Makes 4 servings
- 3 whole jicamas
- chili powder (to taste)
- garlic powder (to taste)
- onion powder (to taste)
- salt (to taste)
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and slice jicama into thin slices. Spread out on top of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Season to taste. Coat chips with cooking spray. Place in oven at 400 F for approximately 25-30 minutes or until crisp. Enjoy with your favorite low-calorie dip!
Lime, Cilantro, and Chili Infused Jicama Fries
Makes 3-4 servings
- 1 smaller jicama
- 1 Tbsp. lime juice
- 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
- ½ tsp. chili powder
- ½ tsp. dried cilantro
- ¼ tsp. fine sea salt
Preheat oven to 375 F. Add coconut oil to a medium mixing bowl and put it in the oven to melt. It only takes about a minute, so don’t forget the bowl in there!
Add lime juice, chili powder, dried cilantro, and sea salt to coconut oil and mix together.
Peel jicama and cut into sticks about the size of a small french fry. Mix jicama in the coconut oil and spread onto a baking sheet lined with unbleached parchment paper. If you have a cookie rack, lay the jicama on it. If not, you will have to flip them halfway through the baking time.
Bake for 30 minutes. Flip once at 15 minutes if not using a cookie rack.
Tangy Jicama Slaw
Makes 8 servings
- 1 medium red onion, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
- 1 ¼ tsp. salt
- 3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
- 2 Tbsp. canola oil
- 2 tsp. sugar
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- 2 ½ lbs. jicama, peeled and cut into julienne strips (10 cups)
- ⅓ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
Soak onion in 1 cup cold water with ½ tsp. salt for 15 minutes to make onion flavor milder. Drain in a sieve, then rinse under cold water and pat dry. Whisk together lime juice, oil, sugar, pepper, and remaining ¾ tsp. salt in a large bowl until combined well. Add onion, jicama, cilantro, and salt to taste. Toss well.
This article was written by GaeLynn Peterson, USU Extension Assistant Professor, and Shannon Cromwell, USU Extension Assistant Professor
Bender, A. G. (2016). Jicama: A new veggie for your cancer fighting diet. American Institute for Cancer Research. Retrieved from http://blog.aicr.org/2016/05/10/jicama-a-new-veggie-for-your-cancer-fighting-diet/.
D’Sa, E. M. (2004). Using and preserving jicama. National Center for Home Food Preservation. Retrieved from https://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/nchfp/factsheets/jicama.pdf.
Neff, C. (2007). Jicama. Retrieved from https://experiencelife.com/article/jicama/.
Park, C. J., & Han, J. S. (2015). Hypoglycemic effect of jicama (pachyrhizus erosus) extract on streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice. Preventive Nutrition & Food Science, 20(2), 88-93.
Park, C. J., Lee, H. A., & Han, J. S. (2016). Jicama (pachyrhizus erosus) extract increases sensitivity and regulates hepatic glucose in mice. Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, 58(1), 56-63.
Ramos-de-la-Pena, A. M., Renard, C., Wicker, L., & Contreras-Esquivel, J. C. (2013). Advances and perspectives of pachyrhizus spp. in food science and biotechnology. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 29, 44-54.
Stevenson, D. G., Jane, J., & Inglett, G. E. (2007). Characterization of jicama (Mexican potato) (pachyrhizus erosus) starch from taproots grown in USA and Mexico. Starch, 59, 132-140.
United States Department of Agriculture. (2016). Yambean (jicama), raw. (Basic Report: 11603). Retrieved from https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3268.