How to Store Jicama

Storing jicama properly ensures that you can enjoy this crisp root vegetable to the fullest.

Jicama, packed with health benefits such as fiber, vitamins like vitamin C, and minerals including potassium, iron, and magnesium, is a versatile ingredient that can add a refreshing crunch to your dishes.

To retain these benefits and the unique texture, it’s important to handle this tuber correctly after bringing it home from the market.

A jicama is being stored in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry or cellar, away from direct sunlight and heat sources

Jicama’s sturdy nature may lead you to believe it’s low-maintenance, but like most root vegetables, it does require some attention to storage.

If you plan to use it within a day or two, you can keep it at room temperature in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.

This short-term storage method allows the jicama to maintain its freshness without taking up precious refrigerator space.

However, if you anticipate keeping jicama longer, the refrigerator is your friend.

Wrap the jicama in a paper towel to absorb any excess moisture and place it in a perforated plastic bag before storing it in the vegetable crisper.

This method can preserve the jicama’s crunchiness and flavor for up to two weeks, ensuring that you can incorporate its nutritious qualities into your meals well beyond the purchase date.

Understanding Jicama

A jicama sits on a kitchen counter next to a basket of produce. A refrigerator door is open, revealing a compartment filled with jicama

Jicama (pronounced HEE-kah-ma), a root vegetable native to Mexico, is also known as yam bean. This tuberous veggie is part of the bean family and is prized for its crisp texture and a mildly sweet taste reminiscent of apples.

You can typically recognize jicama by its rough, brown skin and starchy, white interior.

When you select a jicama, look for firm, dry roots with no signs of blemishes or soft spots. A fresh jicama should feel heavy for its size, indicating that it’s juicy and not dried out.

Remember, the smaller roots tend to be juicier and sweeter.

Nutritional Profile:

  • Low in calories
  • High in dietary fiber
  • Rich in vitamin C

Culinary Uses:

  • Eaten raw in salads or slaws
  • Cooked in stir-fries or stews
  • Sliced and served with dips

Once you’ve purchased your jicama, it’s crucial to store it properly to maintain its crisp texture. The following sections will guide you through the best practices for storing your jicama, ensuring you can enjoy this versatile vegetable to its fullest.

Selecting Quality Jicama

A hand reaches for a firm, unblemished jicama in the produce section. It is then placed in a cool, dark pantry for storage

When you’re at the grocery store, choosing a fresh jicama is crucial for both taste and longevity. Here’s how to ensure you select the best one.

Identifying Freshness Signs

Look for jicama that is firm and feels heavy for its size. The skin should be smooth and emit a slightly sweet smell.

Freshness is indicated by a crunchy texture, so if it meets these criteria, you’re off to a good start.

Avoiding Bad Blemishes

While shopping, inspect the jicama for any signs of damage. Steer clear of pieces with cuts, soft spots, or bruises. Uniform color and absence of dark spots are also qualities of good jicama.

Remember, avoiding blemished jicama at grocery stores means a longer shelf life and a more enjoyable eating experience.

Preparation Before Storage

Proper preparation of jicama is essential for maintaining its freshness and texture. The following steps will ensure that your jicama is ready for storage.

Washing and Drying

Before storing jicama, wash it thoroughly under running water to remove any surface dirt or contaminants that may spoil the vegetable.

It is crucial to dry the jicama completely after washing. Even if the jicama appears dry, use a clean cloth or a paper towel to pat down the jicama, ensuring it is free of excess moisture to prevent mold growth during storage.

To Peel or Not to Peel

When prepping jicama for storage, do not peel the skin.

The skin helps preserve the jicama’s freshness while in storage. Peeling should only be done right before consuming or using jicama in your recipes. Keep the skin intact to maintain the optimal quality of the vegetable during storage.

Proper Storage Techniques

When storing jicama, the focus is on maintaining its freshness by regulating moisture, temperature, and air exposure.

Storing Whole Jicama

To keep whole jicama fresh, choose a cool, dry place away from sunlight. Your pantry or a dark cupboard can be ideal.

Avoid storing your jicama in the freezer, as freezing temperatures can damage its texture.

If your kitchen is particularly warm or humid, the refrigerator can provide a more suitable environment.

In the refrigerator, place your jicama in the crisper drawer, which offers consistent temperature and relative humidity that’s beneficial for extended storage.

  • Temperature: Aim for a cool environment, ideally between 53-59°F (12-15°C).
  • Humidity: Moderate humidity is acceptable, but avoid overly wet conditions.
  • Location: Store in a dry place if out of the refrigerator, or in the crisper drawer if refrigerated.

Storing Cut Jicama

Once jicama is cut, the perishable inner flesh is exposed, which requires immediate attention to prevent spoilage.

Wrap cut pieces in plastic wrap or place them in an airtight container lined with paper towels to absorb any excess moisture.

Then, store the wrapped or contained jicama in the refrigerator.

This method helps to retain crispness and prevents the jicama from drying out or absorbing other food odors.

  • Airtight Container: Seal in a container to maintain moisture levels and keep out odors.
  • Paper Towels: Use to absorb moisture and keep the jicama dry.
  • Refrigeration: Always refrigerate cut jicama to preserve its quality.

Optimal Storage Conditions

Proper storage of jicama is crucial in maintaining its freshness and preventing spoilage. Keeping the correct temperature and humidity levels and avoiding moisture are essential for prolonging the life of this root vegetable.

Temperature and Humidity Levels

Your jicama will thrive when stored in an environment with a temperature range between 45°F (7°C) and 55°F (13°C).

These temperatures are typically cooler than room temperature but warmer than a standard refrigerator setting. This temperature range helps slow the natural ripening process while preventing your jicama from becoming too soft or developing a woody texture.

Maintain a moderate humidity level within your storage area to support the longevity of the jicama.

Avoiding Moisture and Mold Risk

Keep your jicama dry at all times.

Store it in a cool, dry place if you’re planning to use it within a week, away from direct sunlight.

For longer storage, place your jicama in the vegetable drawer or crisper drawer of your refrigerator to keep it away from excessive moisture that might contribute to mold or rot.

Avoid washing the jicama until you’re ready to use it, as this will minimize moisture and further reduce the likelihood of mold development.

Extending Jicama’s Shelf Life

To ensure that your jicama remains fresh and crisp for as long as possible, it’s essential to store it properly. By using refrigeration and understanding freezing methods, you can significantly prolong the shelf life of this root vegetable.

Using Refrigeration

When storing jicama in your refrigerator, it’s best to keep it unpeeled and unwashed until you are ready to use it. This prevents excess moisture from shortening its shelf life.

Store jicama in a cool, dry section of your fridge, typically in the crisper drawer, to maintain its freshness.

If you’ve already cut the jicama, place the slices in an airtight container or a sealable freezer bag to keep them fresh.

  • Dry any cut pieces thoroughly before storing.
  • Check the container seal for airtightness.

Potential Freezing Methods

Although freezing is not commonly recommended for jicama due to texture changes after thawing, if you choose to freeze jicama:

  1. Blanch the jicama slices to preserve texture.
  2. Pat the slices dry to remove any excess moisture.
  3. Use a freezer bag to store, removing as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn.
  4. Label the bag with the current date to track how long it’s been in the freezer.

Ensure your refrigerator and freezer are operating at the optimal temperatures to preserve the jicama properly—normally around 37°F (3°C) for the fridge and 0°F (-18°C) for the freezer.

Using Jicama in Cooking

A jicama sits on a kitchen counter next to a bowl of water. A hand reaches for it, ready to peel and slice. Another jicama is stored in a cool, dark pantry

Jicama, with its sweet and nutty flavor, offers versatility in the kitchen, whether you opt to enjoy it raw or incorporate it into a variety of cooked dishes.

Raw Consumption and Salad Integrations

When consuming jicama raw, slice or dice it into thin sticks or cubes for a crunchy addition to salads. The flesh is juicy and crisp, and its subtle sweetness pairs well with other salad ingredients.

To add extra flavor to your salads, consider marinating jicama pieces in a light dressing before integrating them.

Salad Recipe Example:

  • Jicama Salad: Toss cubed jicama with sliced oranges, cucumbers, and chili powder.

Cooking Jicama for Diverse Dishes

Cooking with jicama allows you to explore its adaptability in various recipes from crispy jicama fries baked in the oven to it being a hearty addition to soups.

For fries, cut jicama into thin strips, toss with oil and seasoning, and bake until they are lightly browned, providing a healthier alternative to traditional potato fries.

Cooked Dishes Examples:

  • Jicama Stir-fry: Cube jicama and incorporate it with other vegetables in a stir-fry, adding a unique texture.
  • Jicama Soups: Chopped jicama contributes a mild sweetness to soups and retains a pleasant bite even after cooking.

For both raw and cooked uses, ensure jicama is properly peeled as the skin is inedible.

Jicama as Part of a Healthy Diet

A jicama sits on a kitchen counter next to a bowl of fresh vegetables. A refrigerator door is open with a container of jicama slices inside

Jicama, also known as Mexican yam bean, is a root vegetable that can contribute significantly to a nutritious and balanced diet. When you include jicama in your meals, you’re adding a low-carb, crisp ingredient that fits well within keto dietary guidelines due to its minimal impact on blood sugar levels.

The vegetable is rich in dietary fiber, which aids in digestion and can help you feel full longer. This makes jicama an excellent food choice for weight management.

It’s also a source of vitamin C, an antioxidant that supports your immune system and skin health. Adding jicama to your diet can contribute to your daily vitamin C intake, as it contains about 20% of the recommended daily value per serving.

Nutritional Highlights of Jicama:

  • Vitamin C: Essential for immune system function and skin health.
  • Fiber: Supports digestion and satiety.
  • Potassium: Important for heart and muscle function.
  • Iron: Necessary for blood production.
  • Magnesium: Involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in your body.

Special Considerations

Jicama stored in a cool, dry place. Airtight container or plastic bag. Avoid direct sunlight. Keep away from moisture

When storing jicama, there are specific factors to be mindful of, particularly regarding the inedible parts and the implications of combining jicama with other foods for storage.

Non-Edible Parts and Safety

The only part of the jicama that is safe for you to eat is the root itself. Jicama seeds, leaves, and stems are poisonous if ingested due to the presence of rotenone, which is used as an insecticide.

Before storing, ensure all non-edible parts are discarded. When cutting jicama to use raw in salads or other dishes, remember to peel the skin as it is not edible and can cause digestive discomfort.

Combining with Other Foods

Jicama can be combined and stored with other fruits and vegetables, but avoid storing it with ethylene-producing items such as apples or bananas, which might hasten spoilage.

If adding jicama to a mixture or salad that includes other foods, such as lime juice, meats, or additional vegetables, store the mixture in a sealed container and consume it within a few days to maintain freshness and avoid flavor transfer.

Frequently Asked Questions

A kitchen counter with a jicama placed in a mesh produce bag, next to a stack of storage containers and a refrigerator

In this section, you’ll find concise, reliable answers to common questions about storing jicama to maintain its freshness and flavor.

What’s the best way to keep jicama fresh after cutting?

After cutting, wrap your jicama in a slightly damp paper towel and place it in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag. This method helps to maintain humidity around the jicama without making it wet, which can lead to spoilage.

How long can you expect jicama to stay fresh in the refrigerator?

When stored correctly in the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator, whole jicama can stay fresh for about two to three weeks. Once cut, it’s best to use jicama within about a week for optimal freshness and crunch.

Is it possible to freeze jicama for long-term storage?

Yes, you can freeze jicama. For the best results, blanch sliced jicama for a few minutes, then immerse in cold water to stop the cooking process. Dry completely, spread onto a baking sheet to freeze individually, and then transfer to a freezer-safe bag or container. It can be stored frozen for several months.

What are the steps to properly refrigerate jicama overnight?

To properly refrigerate jicama overnight, wrap it in a paper towel and place it inside a perforated plastic bag or a container with a lid. Make sure to put it in the vegetable crisper drawer of your refrigerator to retain its freshness until the next use.

Does soaking jicama in water help preserve its freshness?

Soaking jicama in water is not recommended as a method to preserve its freshness because prolonged exposure can cause it to become soggy. Instead, keep it dry and refrigerate as suggested.

Can you prevent jicama from browning, and if so, how?

To prevent browning, coat the cut surfaces of jicama with lemon juice or vinegar. The acidic nature of these liquids will slow down the oxidation process that causes browning.

Store as recommended after treatment.

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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