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Sunrise ocas are small and cylindrical, growing on average between 5-15 centimeters in length. The waxy skin showcases the vibrant yellow hue and is lined with indentations and shallow eyes. The flesh is also golden and will offer a tangy, slightly sour flavor and crisp texture when freshly harvested. If left to sit in the sun for a week, the oxalic acid content of the Sunrise oca will start to break down, and glucose levels will rise to give them a much sweeter taste and starchier texture, a process known as hardening. When cooked, the Sunrise oca will offer a sweet and nutty flavor with a texture reminiscent of cooked potato or winter squash. In addition to the tuber, the leaves, shoots, and stems of the Sunrise oca are edible and have a flavor similar to sorrel with nuances of lemon.
Sunrise oca is available year-round, with peak season in the fall and spring.
The Sunrise oca, botanically classified as Oxalis tuberosa, is a member of the Oxalidaceae family along with rhubarb, spinach, sorrel, and garlic. The Sunrise oca is not a potato, but rather a perennial South American tuber of the wood sorrel family. Also spelled ocha, oca tubers are one of the most agriculturally important foods in their native home of Peru and Bolivia, second only to the potato. While the oca has experienced a small degree of popularity in Europe and the United States, it is in New Zealand where it has found its greatest modern commercial success. The oca is grown so extensively in New Zealand today that they have come to be known by many as New Zealand yams.
Sunrise oca is a good source of fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin A, vitamin C, amino acids, and iron. It also contains some phosphorus, riboflavin, and niacin.
Sunrise oca is best suited for both raw or cooked applications such as roasting, baking, boiling, steaming, or frying. Raw Sunrise oca can be used without peeling and can be sliced or grated and added to salads and sandwiches, or pickled as a condiment. Roasted or boiled and then mashed, oca makes an excellent side dish. Sliced and cooked they can be used in lieu of potato in warm or cold salads and in soups, stews, and curries to add substance and texture. Yellow varieties of oca such as the Sunrise tend to be sweeter in flavor and can be candied, dried and eaten like dried fruit or used to make jams and marmalade. Sunrise ocas pair well with honey, balsamic vinegar, Brussel sprouts, garlic, shallots, thyme, parmesan cheese, capers, and pickles. They will keep for a couple of weeks when stored away from direct sunlight and in a cool location.
Over the past 1,000 years, the oca has undergone extensive genetic alteration as a result of human intervention and ongoing selection. Years of this has resulted in thousands of South American oca varieties. Street vendors popularly sell hot baked oca on the streets of many Peruvian cities. In Pisac, Peru, oca is commonly frozen, allowed to dry in the sunshine, and then ground down to make a sweet flour used in desserts such as such as mazamorra pudding.
The Sunrise oca tuber is a descendant of the ancient oca native to northern Bolivia and central Peru and is believed to predate the Incas. The oca then made its way to Mexico in the 1700’s, to Europe and France in the 1830’s, and finally to New Zealand in 1860. Today is it still widely available in Central America, South America, New Zealand, Europe, and in specialty stores in the United States.
Recipes that include Sunrise Oca. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Bake Me Away||New Zealand Yams|
|Permaculture UK||Oca Hominy Pie|
|Riverford Organic Farmers||Warm Oca Salad|