eureka! oca info

Judy Glattstein
Wed, 21 Jul 2004 12:44:39 PDT
A British site on Permaculture had the following information. But alas, not

Judy, who promises to slow down now. Enough with the oca, right?

If you live in an area with mild autumns, then the OCA, Oxalis tuberosa,
(see Fig. 4) is a crop you might like to try. It can be grown and used like
the potato but, unlike that species, it is almost untroubled by pests or
diseases. It has been cultivated in South America for thousands of years and
has given very good yields when grown in Britain. The plant is slightly more
cold-hardy than the potato, it will tolerate light frosts but top growth is
killed by heavy frosts. The tubers will be killed by soil temperatures below
about -5°C.

The main problem with growing this plant is that it does not start to form
tubers until the shorter days of late summer and autumn and so, if there is
an early hard frost, yields are likely to be low. Leave the plants in the
ground until the tops have been killed by frosts, since every day in the
autumn will mean larger yields. The tubers are somewhat smaller than
potatoes but can be 8cm or more long and 3cm wide. They have a waxy skin and
are very easy to clean. They store really well with very little attention so
long as they are not wet. I left some tubers sitting on the shelf in the
kitchen one winter and they were still firm and starting to sprout in April.

When first harvested, the tubers have a pleasant lemony flavour due to the
presence of oxalic acid. This substance can lock up certain minerals in the
diet and so the fresh tubers should not be eaten in large quantities.
However, if they are left in a sunny position for a week or so, the acid
breaks down and the tubers become quite sweet. Some cultivars in South
America become so sweet that they are eaten raw like a fruit.

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