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22 February 2016

Better Than a Potato

Do you want something better than a potato? What are your thoughts on oca? Those were ours exactly. Oca?? So let us fill you in. We’ve done some research. This skinny-looking potato is no potato. Given that, and looking at the pretty ocas (oci?) above, would you boil it, or bake it, and put sour cream, butter and chives on it? We’re so glad you asked.

There’s been some waves in the past couple years about oca (Oxalidaceae tuberosa), known in South America as ok’a or apilla, in Mexico as papa extranjera, and in New Zealand as the New Zealand yam. It’s a tuber and looks like a skinny heirloom-style potato. It’s also in the wood sorrel family.

According to this article in Mother Earth News it was introduced to the United States in the 1830s. And, yes, you can grow it. But it’s definitely sensitive to the day length, so in the Northern Hemisphere, they should be planted in October (in some regions) and then harvested around now.

So does it qualify as better than a potato? Some claim it’s tart like an apple, without any sweetness. Others say it’s got a slightly bitter taste (a little blanching can take care of that). When dried in the sun, some claim it tastes like dried figs. But the flavor will depend on the variety. In Ecuador, it’s prepared in a sweet syrup. In Mexico, it’s mixed with salt, lemon, and hot sauce. But, we ask, is it better than a potato!?

Oca is supposedly “higher than or comparable to known sources of natural antioxidants such as blueberries.” That comes from a pretty reputable source known as the United Nations .

Have you tried it? How do you eat it? Better than a potato?