Oca Rose Pink Potatoes
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In locations that experience harsh winters, Rose Pink oca should be harvested in the fall, in milder climates they can be harvested in the winter and even spring months.
Botanically the Rose Pink oca is classified as part of Oxalis tuberosa and is a member of the Oxalidaceae family along with rhubarb, spinach and sorrel. Culinarily Rose Pink oca are most often used in preparations similar to that of potatoes, however botanically speaking they have no relation to potatoes and rather are classified as a tuber and part of the wood sorrel family. In their native home of the Andes there are hundreds of different varieties of oca, the most commonly grown today are found in shades of red, pink and yellow. In the Andes oca are classified into categories according to use: sour cultivars known as khaya are thoroughly dried and processed, the sweet cultivars known as wayk’u are set in the sun a few days post-harvest then typically prepared boiled or roasted. Outside of South America the only other country growing oca with such fervor is New Zealand, however the oca is thought to have great potential as a valuable food crop for the future.
Rose Pink oca are petite tubers with a slightly irregular, cylindrical shape. Its exterior skin is thin and showcases a pale pink hue and waxy sheen. The Rose Pink oca is lined with eyes and signature vertical indentations running the length of the tuber. Freshly harvested Rose Pink oca will offer a tangy and acidic taste. For a sweeter oca allow them to sit in the sun for up to a week in which time their glucose content will nearly double giving the oca a much sweeter flavor. When raw the Rose Pink oca offers a crisp texture, however when cooked their consistency is much softer, similar to that of cooked winter squash and its flavor, sweet with nutty nuances. The leaves, shoots and stems of the oca plant are edible as well and will lend a sharp lemon flavor to where used.
Similar to other tubers Rose Pink oca provides an excellent source of dietary fiber and carbohydrates. Additionally, they offer some riboflavin, phosphorous, calcium, iron, amino acids and a healthy dose of vitamin C. Just like spinach and garlic all oca tubers contain oxalic acid, with the red and pink types offering the highest levels. Consuming nominal amounts of oxalic acid is not an issue for most people, however for those that have an allergy to it large amounts can cause a tingling feeling in the mouth and may interfere with mineral absorption. Oxalates are also responsible for the tangy flavor of Rose Pink oca. To lower oxalate content and reduce the sour flavor leave oca in the sun for several days after harvesting or boil them prior to eating.
Though not botanically a potato Rose Pink oca can be used in a fashion similar to that of fingerling potatoes. They can be sliced and sautéed, roasted, boiled, steamed, and deep fried. Their small size makes them an ideal tuber for use in both warm and cold salads, as a topping for flatbread or a filling for savory hand pies. Boiling or blanching the oca prior to use will help reduce the oxalic acid content and lessen its bitter flavor. Rose Pink oca will complement soups, stews, and curries. They can also be roasted or boiled and mashed then served alongside grilled meats and vegetables. Unlike potatoes, the Rose Pink oca can also be eaten when raw and will be at their best flavor wise when they have had a chance to let their sugars fully develop in the sun a few days post-harvest. When raw they can be thinly sliced and added to salads and sandwiches or grated and used as a condiment to impart a sweet and sour flavor, and crisp texture. Rose Pink oca can also be picked or used to make jam. The leaves and shoots of the Rose Pink oca plant are edible as well and can be added raw to salads or used as a cooking green. To store, keep Rose Pink oca in a cool and dry place.
In the Andes the oca is a traditional tuber and an important source of nutritional sustenance in the region. The pink hued oca is one of the more commonly grown types in the Vilcanota Valley of Peru today. During oca season, baked oca are popularly sold by street vendors in many Peruvian cities. In the Andes region of Bolivia, the oca is dried and ground down to make flour which is popularly used to make desserts and porridges. In Mexico, the oca is eaten raw as a snack with lemon, salt, and hot pepper. Outside of South America, New Zealand is the only country where oca tubers are widely grown. Their popularity is so extensive there that they are commonly sold under the name New Zealand yam and traditionally served with roast lamb.
The Oca is believed to have originated in the Andes, specifically the highland regions between Argentina and Columbia. It has long been an important food crop specifically in northern Bolivia and central Peru. From there it traveled across South America and to Mexico in the 1700’s and to Europe in the 1800’s. In 1860 the oca arrived in New Zealand and quickly gained popularity, in time becoming a widely grown commercial crop. Rose Pink oca can be grown in a diverse array of soil types, but they are day length sensitive and will not produce tubers until daylight is down to 12 hours a day or less. Oca have a greater tolerance to pests than potatoes and can be grown in elevations not suitable for other edible plants ranging from 2,500 to 4,000 meters above sea level.
Recipes that include Oca Rose Pink Potatoes. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Miracle & Wander||Easy Roast Chicken & New Zealand Yams|
|Homegrown Revolution||New Zealand Yams|
|Simmer Stock||Oca Salad with Capers and Cornichons|
|He Needs Food||New Zealand Yam & Brussels Sprout Gratin|
|Permaculture||Warm Oca Salad|