Better Cassava Varieties

good-cassava

This week I came across better cassava varieties than I’ve seen before.

Back in Florida, I grew the cassava I could get. It was a variety I got from my friend Ralph, who in turn had gotten it from some Indians, who I assume brought it in from India at some point.

CassavaHarvest20121

CassavaWholePlant

The plants were tall (often hitting 10′ plus) and took a long time to make roots, which made them a pain to grow in North Florida, though I still grew and harvested them successfully.

It just took two seasons. And man, my voice sounds high in that video! My ex-videographer was always having some weird problems with recording either the audio or the video, though the editing looked cool.

Here I’ve found some better varieties of cassava than I used to have – but I’m still testing. Unfortunately, not all cassava are created equal. I had some that did really lousy for me.

Wait, my voice sounds high in that one too.

Vanity, vanity, all is vanity…

Thus far the best kind I’ve grown is an improved partly red-leafed variety that makes very short plants with large roots even in adverse conditions.

This last week I was able to attend a local agribusiness event. There I saw this:

That's some serious cassava. #gardening

A post shared by David Good (@david_t_good) on

And I got to taste a variety known as “butter stick,” which is rich, pale yellow and creamy. Even steamed it was delicious and tasted like it had been buttered.

I hope to visit a plant research facility and hunt some down. It was quite good.

Over the years I’ve had mixed results with cassava.

Sometimes it’s tasted quite decent, like a nice, dense potato. Other times it’s been slightly bitter and watery. Cassava used to be my favorite root crop (I speak of it quite highly in my post “Cassava: King of Staples,”) but after multiple experience with so-so roots with lousy flavor, it’s taken a back seat to yams.

Even at the agricultural event, my wife picked up a couple of sweet pudding cups made from local roots for us to eat. At first taste, they were quite nice – but then in crept a bitterness underneath the sugar and spices. I wouldn’t care to eat them again, or to grow whatever variety of cassava they were made from.

I suppose the moral of the story is to keep hunting and improving whenever you can. As I write in my book Totally Crazy Easy Florida Gardening, some varieties will disappoint you whereas others will outshine. Just compare beefsteak tomatoes to Everglades tomato in a Florida garden. You’ll almost always fail on the former whereas the latter just keeps on kicking and producing sweet fruits, sometimes for years.

Looks like I need to dig more beds this next year and see if I can grow some good cassava varieties that are worth eating. Butter Stick was excellent.

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