Native to Mexico and Latin America, jicama is a uniquely sweet root vegetable that can be readily bought in many American supermarkets year-round.
Also known as yam bean, Mexican turnip, and Mexican potato, jicama is revered for its crisp texture and subtle flavor that conveniently suits a variety of dishes.
The beauty of jicama is that it can be sliced thin and eaten raw, as well as cooked and mixed through stews, soups, and whatever else tickles your fancy.
Even though it’s widely sold here in the States, jicama can still be considered a leftfield and exotic choice of vegetable, which means most of us probably don’t know how to store it correctly.
In this article, we are going to fill you in on the different ways of storing jicama so that you can slip this magical root vegetable into your weekly eating routine.
What to Look For When Buying Jicama
Before you have the chance to store and cook your jicama, firstly seeking out prime-time jicama is essential.
Unfortunately, because most jicama that is sold in America is imported, you really have no way of knowing what kind of life it has lived before arriving on your supermarket shelves.
This great unknown means doing your own jicama investigative work prior to purchase is key to maximizing its storage potential.
Always make sure the jicama that you buy has tough skin on it. Skin that is particularly shiny and blemish-less is best, as it’s most likely had an easier time getting to you and will also be the freshest.
We also recommend picking up each jicama and giving it a good once-over to check for any soft patches as this is where it will likely rot from.
An appearance that is dull in color should also be avoided as this is a telling sign of age. These same rules can be applied to all fruit and vegetables because you know what they say, fresh is best.
How To Use Jicama in Cooking
Because of its subtle sweetness, jicama is considered a very versatile vegetable that can be eaten in a number of inspiring ways.
However, before we entice you with everything that raw jicama can do, we must slap a rather serious disclaimer on it first.
Most parts of jicama are actually poisonous and should not be consumed by humans.
Make sure all the leaves, skin, and stems of jicama have been removed before you go slicing and dicing it into your favorite soup or salad and leave only the root behind.
Once you’ve disposed of all the not-so-nice bits of your jicama, it’s time to decide what’s for dinner.
As we said, and very much unlike potatoes, jicama can be eaten raw or cooked, which gives rise to a plethora of tasty meal opportunities.
Try it in a stir fry, salad, soup, coleslaw, mixed with fruit, mixed with other veggies, or simply slice it up and sprinkle some chili, lime, and salt on top and chow on down.
Jicama also works well with cooked meats, in tortillas, turned into fries, we could keep going, but you get the picture – jicama can do no wrong.
Storing Jicama At Room Temperature
Storing jicama at room temperature is the preferred storage option, granted you haven’t already peeled, or cut into the vegetable.
Just like potatoes and other root vegetables that store best at room temperature, jicama loves a cool (but not too cool), dark, and dry space.
Generally, the kitchen cupboard fits this bill best but always check for a build-up of moisture first, as this could cause your jicama to go moldy and rot.
The temperature that jicama is stored best is between 53 and 59 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s summer and your home is prone to heating beyond 59 degrees, then this is manageable for your jicama.
What isn’t manageable is if your kitchen cupboard is consistently colder than 53 degrees, as this will cause your jicama to decay, lose color, and most probably a lot of its texture and taste as well.
If the temperature sweet spot has been met, and you’ve bought your fresh jicama from a trusted source, then there’s no reason why it can’t last for up to four months in these conditions.
Storing Jicama In The Fridge
If you have cut into jicama, but haven’t managed to use the entire vegetable in your dish, then the fridge is where it needs to go.
Storing jicama in the fridge after it’s been partially used will help to keep the exposed flesh fresh. But don’t get too complacent, because once jicama has been cut, the stop clock has officially started.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom, because there are a number of ways to prolong your jicama’s shelf-life in the fridge.
Removing excess moisture from your jicama by patting it dry is a must before it goes into the fridge.
After it has been cleared of moisture, whip out your kitchen’s faithful plastic wrap and give it a very tight seal, making sure not to leave any sections of the jicama bare.
As we already hinted, jicama doesn’t fair too well in the cold, so try to find a spot in the fridge that is as far away from the back as possible – this will help to minimize its texture and taste loss.
If you do all this, and your jicama was relatively fresh before going into the fridge, then there’s no reason why it shouldn’t last for two weeks before needing to be eaten.
Storing Jicama In The Freezer
Let’s face it, sometimes, for whatever reason, when time is ticking and your jicama stockpile just can’t seem to be eaten quick enough, there really is only one place for it, and that is the freezer.
Freezing jicama may seem like a strange prospect at first, but if you do it right, you could skip the rotting option and get another 12 months of life out of it.
Just like at room temperature and in the fridge, jicama that is destined for the freezer needs to be well away from moisture.
Whole jicamas can store well in the freezer when tightly and generously wrapped in aluminum foil, as this helps to repel the freezer’s inherent moisture.
If you’ve already sliced or diced your jicama into bit-sized bits and want to freeze it, an airtight Tupperware container is your best bet.
Although a lot of home cooks are put off by the jicama, classing it as “too weird” to cook with, this fleshy vegetable is actually surprisingly easy to cook, and not so surprisingly delicious to eat.
So whether you’ve never tried jicama and wanted to get the jump on storing it.
Or, you’ve already had a bunch of jicama fall by the rotting wayside, we hope this article has shed some much-needed light on the storing options for the mighty Mexican root vegetable, jicama.