What is a jicama?

JIcama Horizon Guest House Hawaii

What is a jicama? A relatively unknown root vegetable, the jicama is common here on the Big Island of Hawaii. With its flaky brown skin and crispy, white texture, the jicama has a unique flavor that tastes like a cross between a potato and a pear!

Jicama Horizon Guest House Kona Big Island

Pronounced (hee-kah-ma) the versatile vegetable has its origins in Mexico and Central America. It’s now found throughout Asia as well as here in Hawaii.

The jicama plant itself is mostly toxic. The vines of the plant can grow up to 20 feet in length. The root of the plant is the only part of the vegetable that is edible. The rest of the plant including the skin remains toxic, so make sure you peel it well! But don’t let that scare you, the crunchy flesh is a great addition to everything from salads to stir fries.

Jicama Horizon BnB Hawaii

Are jicamas a superfood?

The jicama is seen by many as a superfood since it’s so nutrient dense. The nutrient profile of the jicama is packed with vitamin E, calcium and zinc. Its high in fiber, a great source of vitamin C, and contains that all-important beta carotene! It also contains inulin, a prebiotic that helps with maintaining gut health.

Fun fact: The jicama is also known as water chestnut, Mexican potato and yam bean.

Where to find them

Make trying a jicama part of your Big Island experience! We bought ours from the Hilo farmers market, but you’ll be able to find them at most farmers markets around the island.

Look for firm, dry jicamas. Make sure the skin isn’t bruised and that the vegetable isn’t old and shriveled. Jicamas keep well – after they’ve been peeled they’ll last in the fridge for approximately two weeks. Make sure to keep them wrapped in a container or a plastic bag.

Jicama Burrito HGH
Grated jicama on a burrito

How to eat jicamas

Jicamas can be eaten raw or they can be cooked. First, remove the brownish skin – either cut or peel from the vegetable. Then chop into cubes, slices, or even grate. You’ll find the consistency much like that of a potato, with a kind of watery starchy texture as you cut into it.

We used ours as a topping on a burrito and also chopped up in a salad but there lots of creative ways to cook with jicamas. Don’t worry about oxidation – once you cut into a jicama, the vegetable won’t brown.

Fun fact: In Central America they are often eaten raw – cut into slices, chilled, then drizzled with lemon/lime juice, sprinkled with chilli powder and a dash of salt!

Jicama salad HGH B&B Kona
Cubed jicama in a corn, pepper, cilantro salad

Be creative with jicamas!

Add jicamas to your diet in these creative ways

  • As an ingredient in your favourite fruit salad – works well with pineapple, mango and papaya

  • As a snack – cut into slices and then served with guacamole

  • Use in your favourite vegetable stir-fry

  • Cut into thick French fry-sized pieces (half an inch by half an inch), toss with olive oil and your favourite spices, and then bake on a cookie sheet in a hot oven! Jicama fries!

Some great jicama recipe ideas

  • Kale, jicama and orange salad

  • Spicy black bean burritos with grated jicama

  • Toasted chicken sandwiches with jicama and red cabbage slaw

Take the time to try a jicama on your Big Island adventure. Farmers markets around the island are your best bet for finding the freshest quality produce. How did you use jicamas in your cooking? Let us know in the comments.

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Orchid Extravaganza!

Orchid Big Island Horizon Guest House Kona 2

Guests at Horizon Guest House often ask me ‘what makes Hawaii so special?’ and the first answer that usually comes to mind is ‘the weather’.

The weather on the Big Island is consistent and doesn’t tend to change much throughout the year. The Big Island also has an added bonus – you can pick your weather within a tropical to subtropical range. Actually, you can technically find 10 of the 14 climate zones right here on the island.

Orchid Big Island Horizon Guest House Hawaii

One result of this consistent weather is the ability to grow a huge range of plants and flowers. And one of my favorites is the orchid (orchidaceae).

Orchid Big Island Hawaii Horizon Guest House

The variety of flower formations is astounding. There are about 28,000 currently accepted species and about 100,000 hybrids and cultivars.

Orchids Big Island Hawaii Horizon BnB

Developing new hybrids and cultivars is a huge endeavor on the Big Island – you can see a large number of varieties at the annual orchid show in Hilo sponsored by the Hilo Orchid Society. This year it was held on June 28-30th. I didn’t make it to this year’s show but I have been to many in past years and thoroughly recommend it. For more details check out their website here

Orchids Kona Big Island Hawaii Horizon Guest House

Fun fact! Another name for the Big Island is the ‘orchid isle’. This is because Hawaii quite quickly got a reputation for excellence in producing orchids. First grown commercially in the early 1900s, Hawaii was dubbed ‘the orchid center of the world’ when the Honolulu Orchid Society exhibited over 20,000 plants in St. Louis at the 1957 World Orchid Conference. Today, orchids are a multi-million dollar industry.

When seeing orchids out in the living room, guests frequently ask how I’m able to have them out all year. Easy – basically I feed and ignore. The weather does the rest!

Orchids Big Island Hawaii Horizon Guest House

The vanilla orchid (not pictured here) is probably one of the most well-known orchids. It is the second-most expensive spice after saffron. That’s because it’s so labor intensive. Two thirds of the world’s vanilla is grown in Madagascar and Indonesia.

I did have a vanilla orchid here at Horizon Guest House, and yes, it did bloom. The problem is that there’s a very specific window when it’s possible to pollenate – and I kept missing the window. And in the end, a turkey ripped the plant off the tree – and that was the end of my vanilla production.

Orchid Kona Big Island Hawaii Horizon Guest House

Native Orchids

There are only three types of orchids native to Hawaii. These are Anoetochilus sandvicensis (the jewel orchid); Liparis hawaiensis (the twayblade orchid); and Platanthera holochila.

The best place to find these orchids in the wild is on a hike at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, or in the wet forests on the east side of the island.

Alternatively, for all things orchid, check out Akatsuka Orchid Gardens not far from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Jewel orchid Hawaii
Jewel orchid. Photo credit: G. Daida and https://bit.ly/2plDjgu
Twayblade orchid
Photo credit. Forest & Kim Starr, CC BY 3.0, https://bit.ly/369rOct
Platanthera holochila
Photo credit. J.K. Obata

But sometimes all you need is an orchid and a sunset...

Orchid Horizon Guest House Captain Cook Hawaii

Book now by clicking the button below and then filling out our reservation request form. Or call us on 808 938 7822

Author: Angus Meek