Yesterday at Bellbunya a selection of guests, visitors and community members harvested our Cassava plants.
A perennial woody shrub, Cassava is a great source of low cost carbohydrate in tropical climates.
To plant (or re-plant), all you need is a small section (around 7-30 cm) of the woody shrub buried either horizontally or vertically and about 8 months of patience!
As cassava is actually grown for the tubular roots, harvesting requires pulling out the entire shrub, at which stage the cassava is re-planted in a different area. The soil from which they are pulled is now perfect for growing above ground crops such as broad beans.
To prepare the cassava for eating, we cut the roots into smallish section and with a sharp knife removed both the dirty outer layer along with the thin woody layer just below it. If the Cassava shows any signs of black or brown amongst the white of the root, make sure to throw it away, as this actually cyanide! Cassava only has a shelf life of a few days so it needs be cooked almost immediately. We par-boiled and then roasted ours, but there are many other ways it can be used.
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/cropfactsheets/cassava.htm has suggestions on how to use Cassava:
Dried roots can be milled into flour. Maize may be addedduring the milling process to add protein to the flour. The flour can be use for baking breads. Typically, cassava flour may be used as partial substitute for wheat flour in making bread. Bread made wholly from cassava has been marketed in the U.S.A. to meet the needs of people with allergies to wheat flour.
Fresh roots can be sliced thinly and deep fried to make a product similar to potato chips. They can be cut into larger spear-like pieces and processed into a product similar to french fires.
Roots can be peeled, grated and washed with water to extract the starch which can be used to make breads, crackers, pasta and pearls of tapioca.
Unpeeled roots can be grated and dried for use as animal feed. The leaves can add protein to animal feed.
Industrial uses where cassava is used in the processing procedures or manufacture of products include paper-making, textiles, adhesives, high fructo
se syrup and alcohol.
Our cassava was (surprisingly) delicious and tasted somewhat like roasted chestnuts.