Archives for July 2009

Our New Manioc/Cassava Plant

Yesterday here at Lokahi Garden Sanctuary we harvested a 2 year old Manioc/Cassava plant. Called by many names, Cassava, Tapioca, Yuca, Mogo, Kappa, and others, Manioc is a vital ingredient to food security especially in North Kohala. Over the years it had grown to cover an area of approximately 6 by 8 feet. The beautiful 5 fingered green leaf with red/purple stems covered the 6 foot tall bush as some of its branches had, over the course of time , bent over, touched the fertile earth and took root. Even in the consistent winds of north kohala the Manioc/Cassava continued to flourish and grow.

As I easily dug up the horizontally oriented roots I was pleasantly surprised to find them abundant and vital. I filled up my wheel barrow and proceeded to wash off the dirt and then weight my harvest. An amazing 100 lbs of root was the final tally with the largest single root weighing in at over 12 lbs. That 12 pounder looked like a fattened baseball bat. We could feed our whole neighborhood with this one harvest.

The branches were then processed into 8 inch long leafless sections. Over 200 future new plants as Manioc/Cassava can effortlessly grow new plants from these small branches. Planted in the fertile North Kohala dirt , the Magic Manioc/Captivating Cassava is ready for harvest in 9 months. Manioc/Cassava can be left in the ground indefinitely (at least for 2 years) and harvested when needed.  On the Big Island of Hawaii, most people call the plant and root Cassava.  I think of it as Captivating Cassava because once people get to know the plant, they become captivated by  it.  In one evening our friend Michal Carrillo prepared the root in three different ways..two savory and one sweet.

Manioc/Cassava, the most widely eaten starch in the tropical world, can be cooked in a variety of ways, can be dried and stored for later use, can be ground for flour for bread making, can be processed to make tapioca pearls for pudding, can be fermented to produce ethanol, and can be used as feedstock for a wide variety of animals.

Our favorite recipe to prepare is to grate it, form a large pancake and cook it in coconut oil. Add a little salt and it reminds us of hashbrown potatoes.  We also love the tasty packaged cassava root vegetable chips by Joseph Banks.