All about cassava > varieties

Cassava is a shrubby variety of spurge (Euphorbiaceae). Its tubers or tuberous roots are grouped at the bottom of the plant in a tangle of rootlets.

The tuber is long, irregularly shaped and about 5 cm in diameter. Its white flesh is covered by a brownish layer which resembles bark. There are two main varieties:

Bitter or sweet

The bitter variety is poisonous when raw. It contains hydrocyanic acid, which is neutralized when pressure is applied and the toxic juice squeezed out. It is used mostly for tapioca and for certain cassava dishes. In the West Indies it is mainly made into starch.

The sweet variety is the most widely known in cooking. The tuber needs only to be peeled and cooked in boiling water like a potato.

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