The plant’s roots produce tubers which are eaten in South America. The tuber’s skin may be purplish, red, white or yellow. The flesh is yellow. They are the size of small potatoes, but shaped like cones or carrots.
The tubers can be eaten raw. But when raw, most varieties have a taste that takes some getting used to: slightly sour and with a zip like a hot radish, which comes from the mustard oils in them. Consequently, they are usually boiled in stews, baked or fried. When cooked, the tubers become mild and somewhat sweet. To make them even sweeter, the tubers are left outside on cold nights, and served the next day with a syrup.
Even under poor conditions, the plant can produce yields twice that of potatoes. Nevertheless, the tubers are seen as a food for the poor, and people tend to abandon the crops as soon as they can afford other staples such as rice and noodles.
The leaves are edible as well when young, as are the flowers.
Añú is grown as a flower in Britain. It can be grown from seed or tuber.
Young tubers don’t need peeling, but older ones do. Boil for 10 minutes.
Has been grown as a crop since about 5500 BC.