Jicama is a root vegetable that is native to Mexico and is popular for its crisp texture and sweet, nutty flavor. However, many people have noticed that Jicama can turn brown inside, which raises questions about its safety and quality.
To Understand Why Jicama Turns Brown Inside, we need to unlock the Causes, Prevention, and Health Implications.
This article aims to explore the reasons behind the browning of Jicama, how to prevent it, and the health implications of consuming brown Jicama
What is Jicama?
Origin and General Characteristics
Jicama, scientifically known as Pachyrhizus erosus, is a root vegetable native to Mexico. It belongs to the pea family, Fabaceae. The plant produces blue or white flowers and pods similar to peas when fully developed. The root can grow up to 2 meters in length and weigh as much as 20 kilograms. Interestingly, the heaviest Jicama root ever recorded weighed 23 kg and was found in the Philippines in 2010.
Did You Know?
The jícama vine can reach a height of 4–5 meters (13–16 feet) given suitable support.
Jicama is a low-calorie food that is high in water content approximately 90% of the root is water. It provides 38 calories per 100 grams and is a rich source of vitamin C. It contains 9% carbohydrates, 1% protein, and negligible fat.
|Nutrient||Value per 100g|
|Energy||159 kJ (38 kcal)|
|Dietary Fiber||4.9 g|
Common Uses in Culinary Arts
Jicama is often consumed raw, sometimes seasoned with salt, lemon, or lime juice. It is also used in soups and stir-fried dishes. In Mexico, it is popular in salads, fresh fruit combinations, and soups. In the Philippines, it is known as singkamas and is usually eaten fresh with condiments like rice vinegar or sprinkled with salt.
Jicama’s crisp texture and sweet, nutty flavor make it a versatile ingredient, akin to a cross between a raw potato and a pear.
Why Does Jicama Turn Brown Inside?
Biological Reasons Behind the Browning
Jicama may turn brown inside for several reasons. One of the primary biological factors is the age of the vegetable. As Jicama ages, the cells in its flesh begin to break down, leading to browning. Another biological reason could be cellular damage caused by bruising. When the internal cells are damaged, they release compounds that interact with each other, causing brown discoloration.
- Age of the Jicama
- Cellular damage due to bruising
“Usually, an old jicama will be visibly deteriorating, and the outside of its flesh will turn wrinkly and soft, where it should be firm, like the skin of a potato or an apple.”
Environmental factors can also contribute to the browning of Jicama. For instance, if the vegetable has been stored in excessively cold conditions, it is more likely to rot from the inside before showing external signs. Another environmental factor could be the way the Jicama was formed while growing. If the skin did not fully cover the internal flesh, dirt could get inside, leading to gritty brown formations.
In summary, the browning of Jicama can be attributed to both biological and environmental factors. These include the age of the vegetable, cellular damage, improper storage conditions, and the manner in which it was grown.
Is Brown Jicama Safe to Eat?
Health Implications of Eating Brown Jicama
When you encounter brown spots inside a Jicama, it’s a sign that the vegetable’s flesh has been compromised. This makes it vulnerable to bacterial and fungal infections. While cooking may kill bacteria, toxins left by the bacteria could remain in the flesh and may not be safe.
- A compromised vegetable
- A haven for bacterial and fungal infections
“Only the flesh of the root vegetable itself is safe to eat. Jicama’s skin, stem, leaves, and seeds are poisonous.”
What the Experts Say
According to WebMD, Jicama is generally a healthy vegetable that is rich in dietary fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. However, the brown parts should be avoided as they could be harboring bacteria or mold. – visit WebMD to Learn about the health benefits of Jicama.
- Dietary Fiber: Helps with digestion and lowers cholesterol.
- Vitamin C: Boosts the immune system.
- Antioxidants: Prevent cell damage.
“Jicama has dietary fiber, which may lower cholesterol levels .”
In summary, while Jicama is a nutritious vegetable, brown spots inside it indicate compromised quality and potential health risks. It is advisable to cut out the brown parts and a little of the surrounding flesh before consuming the rest of the vegetable.
How to Prevent Jicama from Turning Brown
- Cool, Dry Place: Store jicama in a cool, dry place away from other produce.
- Refrigeration: If you’ve cut the jicama, it’s best to store it in a loosely sealed plastic bag in the fridge.
- Freezer Storage: For longer periods, jicama can be stored in the freezer.
“To store sliced jicama, place it in a container and cover it with cold water. Place the container in the refrigerator and change the water every few days.”
Pre-treatment Methods to Prevent Browning
- Citrus Juice: Coating jicama with lemon or lime juice can prevent browning.
- Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar or white vinegar can also be used.
- Cold Water Soak: Soaking jicama in cold water can prevent oxidization.
- Do not wash or cut jicama until you’re ready to eat it.
- If jicama starts to turn brown, you can still eat it – just cut away the brown parts.
“Jicama contains a compound called anthocyanin, which is responsible for its brown color when cut.”
While both citrus juice and vinegar can prevent browning, citrus juice adds a zesty flavor, making it a dual-purpose option.
In summary, proper storage and pre-treatment methods can significantly extend the life of your jicama and prevent it from turning brown. Whether you’re storing it in the fridge or pre-treating it with citrus juice, these methods ensure that you get the most out of this nutritious root vegetable.
Discussions and Questions From Forums and Q&A Sites
The topic of why Jicama turns brown inside has been a subject of discussion in various online forums and Q&A sites like Reddit. Some common questions include:
- Is it safe to eat brown Jicama?
- How can one prevent Jicama from turning brown?
- What causes Jicama to turn brown in the first place?
“Some people will cut around the brown sections, rinse the remaining fresh, and cook it without any concerns, but as jicamas tend to be inexpensive and readily available, you may want to just buy a fresh one and compost the one with the brown spots.”
Experts suggest that while Jicama is generally safe to eat, brown spots indicate that the vegetable’s quality has been compromised. It’s best to cut around these spots and consume the rest of the vegetable cautiously.
- Quality Compromise: Brown spots indicate compromised quality.
- Safety Measures: Cut around the brown spots for safe consumption.
“Jicamas can go brown for a number of reasons, but the commonest is that the vegetable is old and its cells are slowly starting to break down.”
In summary, the community and experts alike suggest exercising caution when dealing with brown Jicama. While it’s generally safe to cut around the brown spots, it’s best to avoid them altogether for a better culinary experience.
The Importance of Understanding Jicama Browning
Understanding why Jicama turns brown inside is crucial for both culinary and health reasons. This knowledge allows you to make informed decisions on whether to consume the vegetable or discard it. The browning is a natural enzymatic process that occurs when the vegetable is exposed to oxygen. [S]
- “A natural enzymatic process”
- “Informed culinary decisions”
Understanding why Jicama turns brown is akin to knowing when your milk has gone bad; it’s essential for your health and your palate.
“If you eat bad jicama, you may experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. You may also experience abdominal pain, cramping, and bloating. In severe cases, you may also experience fever, chills, and dizziness.”
In summary, understanding why Jicama turns brown inside is not just a culinary curiosity but a health imperative. The browning is a natural process that doesn’t necessarily indicate spoilage but should be approached with caution. Cutting away the brown parts and consuming the rest is generally considered safe, but when in doubt, it’s better to be safe than sorry.