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White Chuno is small in size and is very lightweight, ranging in shapes from round, oblong, to slightly lopsided and flattened. The light grey to white skin is smooth with a soft, velvety, chalk-like texture and contains a faint, sour odor. Underneath the skin, the dry flesh is also white with a porous, firm, and dense nature. When rehydrated and cooked, White Chuno is spongy, thick, and chewy, readily absorbing accompanying flavors, and has an earthy, mild, and bland flavor.
White Chuno is available year-round in South America.
White Chuno, botanically classified as Solanum tuberosum, are freeze-dried potatoes that are naturally preserved using the harsh climate of the Andes. Also known as Tunta, Chuno Blanco, and Moraya, there are two varieties of chuno, black chuno and White Chuno, and the process of making chuno has remained the same for over eight centuries, created by the Aymara and Quechua villages living in the high elevation regions of the Andes in Bolivia and Peru. To create White Chuno, potatoes are frozen for multiple nights, washed in cold rivers and stomped on in nets to remove skins, and then dried in the hot sun to create a white, preserved tuber. The word chuno is derived from the Quechua word ch’unu, which roughly translates to frozen or wrinkled potato. White Chuno is largely localized to South America and is an acquired taste, but it has remained a staple item in Peruvian and Bolivian diets for centuries, favored for its filling nature and long storage life.
White Chuno contains calcium, iron, and a low amount of potassium, zinc, magnesium, and phosphorus.
White Chuno is best suited for cooked applications and is most commonly rehydrated or ground into a flour. When rehydrated, White Chuno can be sliced and covered in sauces, often consumed with Andean chili or aji, served with roasted meats such as smoked trout, or stuffed with cheese and jerky in a dish known as tunta rellena. White Chuno can also be ground into a flour and used to thicken soups such as chairo, which consists of chuno, vegetables, and meat, and stews such as chuno cola, which is made up of chickpeas, sausage, beef broth, rice, and chuno. The flour can also be used in desserts for added thickness and texture. White Chuno pairs well with peanuts, ricotta cheese, queso fresco, eggs, lettuce, aji amarillo, garlic, onion, green onion, huacatay, parsley, oregano, mint, fava beans, green peas, carrots, quinoa, white corn, and meats such as lamb, beef, pork, and fish. The preserved tubers will keep for decades when stored in a cool, dry, and dark place.
Chuno has been an important staple in Peruvian diets as the unforgiving climate in the Andes often causes crop failure and droughts. By discovering a way to preserve potatoes for long periods of time, the villages of Peru have adapted and thrived under these harsh conditions and have ensured they have a lasting supply of food. The use of chuno was noted during the Inca empire where Incan armies would consume the tubers as a source of food on long travels, but chuno has also seen a recent increase in popularity in the global culinary scene. In Lima, Peru, many chefs are making chuno the star of Novoandina cooking, which is a style of cooking using modern techniques with local, ancient ingredients. International chefs from all over the world are also traveling to Peru to experience the unusual chuno freeze-drying process and are learning how to incorporate the dried tuber into other styles of cooking, establishing Lima as one of the gastronomic centers of South America.
White Chuno is native to Peru and Bolivia and has been developed by villages since the 13th century. Still created using the same process as it was done in ancient times, White Chuno is largely localized to the high elevation villages of the Andes. Today the preserved tuber can be found at local markets in Peru and Bolivia and is also sometimes found in Chile and Argentina. It can also be found through select online retailers.
Recipes that include Chuno Potatoes. One is easiest, three is harder.
|The New York Times||Peruvian Cheesy Potato Soup with Spicy Herb Sauce|