Hairy/cheeky yam (Dioscorea bulbifera) treatment and preparation

wameron36

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Hello fellows!

On one of my recent wanders around the bush I collected a couple of hairy yam (Dioscorea bulbifera) tubers to have a play with. I've planted most of these and they've been growing well! Nice to see the pretty little vines in my garden...

One of the larger ones I decided to try and process however, removing the toxins and rendering an edible product. I had attempted this before, although where I had left it to leach wasn't the best choice and it ended up spoilt by algae. This time has been more successful!

Here's a picture of the actual tuber that I used from when it was collected:
IMG_0322 by Wameron, on Flickr

IMG_0334 by Wameron, on Flickr​

I then boiled the tubers for around 40 mins. Unsure of what sort of length is required??
Once soft, the skin was peeled and the tubers sliced into thin pieces. I was hoping to try grate them using a snail shell, but I managed to simply destroy the shell while trying to punch a hole in it. Has anyone tried poking a hole through one for grating??

Boiled and peeled (half of the tuber):
IMG_0864-1 by Wameron, on Flickr​

Grated:
IMG_0866-1 by Wameron, on Flickr​

Seeing as though I didn't have any small clean rivers nearby that I had easy access to, I decided to try letting the yam soak in the cistern of the toilet. Every time it's flushed, so is the water it's soaking in and it's changed many times per day. I was planning to soak them for a few days only, but I ended up going away for near a week and they were left to sit for near two weeks.

Pulled them out today and here's the finished product:

IMG_0921-1 by Wameron, on Flickr​

I've carefully tried a piece and after a few hours have felt no adverse reactions. Although it's a pretty unappetising meal at the moment...
They're very soggy and without a lot of flavour so here's where you guys may be able to give some suggestions!

Was wondering what I should try to do with the yams now?? Was thinking either trying to squeeze out a buit of the moisture, forming some 'cakes' and baking them in the oven (no access to fire, sadly), or mixing them with some other things and making a meal of sorts.
Any suggestions???

Either way, I'm pretty happy as learning to treat bushfoods like this has been a goal for me! I've also been pretty fixated on this plant for a little while now!

Cheers,
Cam
 

Dan m

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my first thought was too add them to a stock of some sorts, sides of your choice. some chicken stock or beef stock might give them some flavor.

maybe adding them to some grated potato and making a potato rosti of some sort, even by them selves with some pepper and salt, pan fried.

what would you compare the taste too?
 

Aussie123

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.....

I've carefully tried a piece and after a few hours have felt no adverse reactions. Although it's a pretty unappetising meal at the moment...
They're very soggy and without a lot of flavour so here's where you guys may be able to give some suggestions!

Was wondering what I should try to do with the yams now?? Was thinking either trying to squeeze out a buit of the moisture, forming some 'cakes' and baking them in the oven (no access to fire, sadly), or mixing them with some other things and making a meal of sorts.
Any suggestions???

Either way, I'm pretty happy as learning to treat bushfoods like this has been a goal for me! I've also been pretty fixated on this plant for a little while now!

Cheers,
Cam
Hi Cam,

a very exciting experiment. Its good that you're being cautions !

I believe that squeezing the moisture, then baking was a traditional thing to do.

There's quite a nice video here althoughthe last bit (cooking) was not included :

[video=youtube;2wgeBcWXMo0]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wgeBcWXMo0[/video]


If you want a modern twist : then salt and pepper would be a good start; perhaps some onion and flour and an egg to bind it ?
You could also "fry" it - like a potato pancake rather than bake it ?

I've not tried a snail shell grater, but I've seen it in action. I'll see if I can find a shell or two and try it out ....

In this vid, they use a modern knife (about 7:50+)

[video=youtube;Ltk8PovemY0]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ltk8PovemY0&feature=player_detailpage#t=465[/video]

Here they eat the yam, but its only soaked, not baked :
[video=youtube;zpgD3eaSP2E]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpgD3eaSP2E&feature=player_detailpage#t=357[/video]
 

wameron36

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I've watched that first video so many times since I found it Aussie123, such a great little clip. There's several others from the same channel that are also similar and really interesting. As well as all the yidaki videos! Guan, the bloke who's channel it is and who's taken most of the videos has provided so much great video material! There was a yidaki forum that he ran, focussing on the playing techniques from up Arnehm Land way which was also great.

Totally forgot about those couple of Ray Mears videos though, I'm glad you brought them back up. Looks like having a soft base was what I was missing with the shell...
Really interesting watching them foraging for the yams too. The seeds are dead give-away and, in fact, how I first spotted and actually recognised my first yam - a long yam on Hinchinbrook Island. Now I'm confident to identify from the leaves alone, but come late winter and the leaves have shrivelled and dropped, the seed pods are all you've got to rely upon.

I'm curious about the long yams though, as the ones which I have found up this way have all been very tiny, dainty, and I must say super pretty little vines, with very long and thin tubers. Though I also read that they can grow really large, like in the last video. I believe they're both Dioscorea transversa, so I wonder whether they were just small specimens that I found or whether there's just a large variance?

The long yams (D. transversa) fortunately can be eaten raw like you see in the last video. Quite nice too, crisp, light and juicy!
If trying to tell the difference between the long and the cheeky yams (assuming it's a large long yam that could be confused), the colour of the flesh of the tuber also seems to be a good indicator. The cheeky having a yellowing colour and the long yams more white.
 

wameron36

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In regards to cooking it up just then, I ended up mixing it a bit of onion, butter, salt, pepper and some garlic powder to make a sort of rosti like you suggested Dan. I probably over cooked it a little (got distracted with the bow-drill outside :p ) but at least it ended up rather crispy. I think removing some of that moisture was the key to making it more palatable, otherwise the taste was somewhat reminiscent of the smell of clothes that had been soaked in water for too long hahaha.

Initially I was reluctant to squeeze too much water out though, as the excess was quite starchy and basically discarding what I'd assume is the most important aspect of the yam. In any kind of situatiion where you were reliant upon it, I don't think it'd be too hard to eat though. In my case, I was more concerned of making it taste alright.

The end result, pretty good! Mostly flavoured of other things, but either way, I ate it all...
 

Aussie123

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In regards to cooking it up just then, I ended up mixing it a bit of onion, butter, salt, pepper and some garlic powder to make a sort of rosti like you suggested Dan. I probably over cooked it a little (got distracted with the bow-drill outside :p ) but at least it ended up rather crispy. I think removing some of that moisture was the key to making it more palatable, otherwise the taste was somewhat reminiscent of the smell of clothes that had been soaked in water for too long hahaha.

Initially I was reluctant to squeeze too much water out though, as the excess was quite starchy and basically discarding what I'd assume is the most important aspect of the yam. In any kind of situatiion where you were reliant upon it, I don't think it'd be too hard to eat though. In my case, I was more concerned of making it taste alright.

The end result, pretty good! Mostly flavoured of other things, but either way, I ate it all...
... you can collect the starch and use it later if you like.

Collect in in a bowl and let it settle. Pour off excess water, you should have a thick, starchy mixture left behind.

Then you can add that to a recipe, or dry it out to produce a flour which can be stored for later use.

eg Add the mixture to (regular) flour to make a damper, or just add it as a stock to an omlet or ... anything really.

I've done this with other tubers and roots to produced some nice results. Unless you have a large amount, I usually just add a bit of flour and make a small damper, works for me !
 

wameron36

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... you can collect the starch and use it later if you like.

Collect in in a bowl and let it settle. Pour off excess water, you should have a thick, starchy mixture left behind.

Then you can add that to a recipe, or dry it out to produce a flour which can be stored for later use.

eg Add the mixture to (regular) flour to make a damper, or just add it as a stock to an omlet or ... anything really.

I've done this with other tubers and roots to produced some nice results. Unless you have a large amount, I usually just add a bit of flour and make a small damper, works for me !
Yeah cool, which other plants have you tried this with?

I did think about it, but probably wasn't quite worth the effort on this occasion. Although definitely if you were reliant upon it.
I'd be interested to try this using less 'civilised' materials, replicating a situation if I was out bush and limited to say a single pot or nothing at all.

I've used the same method to 'treat'/extract the starch from some Polynesian arrowroot before as well, using multiple changes of water. Chopped everything up finely and mushed it in some water and strained the solid material out. Let the starch settle, decant, add more water and repeat several times over a few days before evaporating the water off. Although used a few different containers of sorts during the process.
Just be interesting to try this with much more limited equipment. I'm sure it would still be pretty easy with a bit of ingenuity. I remember seeing sago, I think, being processed using just large leaves as the container/tray in a video

Have tried once or twice with Typha roots too, but the mixture ended up going pretty nasty before it fully evaporated. Probably just due to laziness on my behalf though...
 

wameron36

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Oh and something else I should add which is pretty cool, is that the tuber that I used had been sitting in my room for probably a month or more before I actually got around to doing anything with it. During that time it may have lost a bit of moisture, but for the most part didn't appear to be degraded in anyway since I collected it. A proper analysis of the goodies inside would tell a better picture and be better proof, but it appears that they'd be a good long term food source. You could collect and store for later use without too much worry by the looks!
 

wameron36

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Interesting stuff, good to hear other peoples experience

http://www.fao.org/docrep/t0207e/t0207e08.htm

This is a little on the toxin side of things.

QI
Oooh interesting! While I've heard about the toxic nature of them, no where I'd found actually mentioned anything specific like that. Have been curious as to what's inside and the effects if eaten raw
 
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