Cassava (also known as manioc or yuca root - not to be confused with the yucca plant) is a white, starchy tropical vegetable. It is widely grown and consumed in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. In many countries, cassava is a dietary staple usually eaten boiled, steamed, fermented, and in flour form as thickeners or additional ingredients for noodles, cakes, and pastries.
Cassava has made a home growing in Florida since the late 1800s. Cassava is a bushy perennial that can grow as tall as 8 feet. The white interior of cassava is firmer than potatoes and has high starch content. Fresh cassava has thick, dark brown skin that resembles a tree's bark, and is available year round. Look for firm blemish free tubers. Store whole cassava as you would potatoes, in a cool, dark, dry place for up to one week. Peeled cassava covered with water and refrigerated or wrapped tightly and frozen for several months.
Cassava can easily be substituted for potatoes in soups and stews and it contains a high amount of vitamin C and carbohydrates. It is also a good source of dietary fiber and contains approximately 120 calories per cup.
Unrefined flour made from the cassava root is popular in the Americas, where it is known as manioc flour, harina de mandioca or harina de yuca. Refined flour from the cassava root is called tapioca starch, or sometimes tapioca flour.