A place to explore and buy perennial vegetables and other food plants.
All summer I had a vibrant looking mashua plant growing against the fence at the allotment.
No flowers though until a week or two ago.
And then the frost got it!
Time to find out whether we like this root or not I thought, and I dug up a bunch of lovely clean tubers.
It is very apparent that the slugs don’t like them. Neither do a whole lot of humans though. I was thinking we hadn’t had a proper taste of mashua before, but it turns out we had, two years ago. I’d forgotten – so it can’t have been all that bad! We called it ‘marzipan root’ because that’s what it tasted like.
This time Twitter friends gave me some cooking tips and one was to cook the mashua with cumin.
Which I did, in a risotto along with mushroom and Sugar Pie squash.
Can you see the mashua? Probably not as I overcooked it and it turned to mush! But we could smell it (a floral scent) and taste it (marzipan again!). Although there was quite a lot in there it didn’t dominate and the risotto was enjoyable – just with the added interest of slightly odd mashua bits!
Last night I decided to experiment a little more. Raw tubers tasted peppery, like a hot radish with an aniseed note. Stew definitely didn’t like it raw and I wasn’t too keen either. Raw eating suggestions usually involve grating or slicing finely into salads or coleslaw. I haven’t tried that yet but I did roast a tuber, bake a tuber, boil a few small tubers and fry some in oil too. (In photo – clockwise from top – boiled, fried, roasted and baked.)
The verdict on this was that baking and boiling removes the raw flavours more than frying and roasting (although I’ve read that long, slow roasting does this well). Boiled and baked, the mashua had a pleasant mashed potato consistency but not much flavour. Roasted it tasted of marzipan again. Fried was best of all I thought. Flavoursome in a good way. Just needed some cumin in there I reckon!
My thoughts on mashua are that it could be a truly perennial root crop with additional uses. I’ve been planting tubers in autumn a bit deeper than the few inches usually advised for spring planting and finding that they have survived recent winters well. I like the idea of a mass of lovely mashua foliage climbing the fence at the allotment, giving other crops some shelter from the wind and attracting insects if they flower (I’ve had them flowering earlier in other years – I’m not sure why they were so late this year). The flowers and leaves are edible too (as with nasturtium) and the tubers could be dug as needed in autumn to eat, with a few sizable ones pushed back in the soil for next year’s crop.
So OK, maybe not a top favourite for flavour – but I think I’ll keep growing mashua for its multipurpose potential.