October 7, 2016 By Fruit & Vegetable
Maca – also known as maca-maca, maino, ayak chichira and ayak willku – is an annual plant native to the high elevations of Peru and Bolivia. It is grown for its fleshy bulb, similar in shape to a radish or turnip, which is used as a root vegetable and medicinal herb.
Maca looks and grows similar to a radish or turnip. The green tops are short and lie along the ground and are continually renewed from the centre as the outer ones die off. The fruit is pear-shaped and can vary in size and shape. While the root can be one of any various colours, cream coloured are the most common.
Due to its affinity for growing in high elevations, maca grows well in cold climates and doesn’t need quality soil.
In Peru, maca is always cooked, either by roasting it in a pit, or boiled and mashed to form a porridge. It can also be made into a form of flour or fermented to make beer.
This crop is currently being trialed by the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (VRIC). “We received some inquiries from Campbell’s Soup,” explained Ahmed Bilal, a research associate with VRIC. “Maca is not only nutritious but also has some nutraceutical value. This crop is very popular with South Americans, Mexicans particularly.”
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