Jamaican Cassava Or Jamaican Bammy
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Jamaican Food - Jamaican Cassava (Bammy)

Jamaican Cassava (Jamaican Bammy) Recipes Preparation

Jamaican cassava known in Jamaica as bammy is also called, Yuca, Tapioca and Manioc. The first known inhabitants of Jamaica, the Caribbean Arawaks used Jamaican cassava as a staple part of their diet. Jamaican cassava originated in Brazil and Paraguay.. Jamaican cassava grows in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. 

Jamaican cassava has the ability to grow on marginal lands and grows in areas of Clarendon in Jamaica as well, where cereals and other crops do not grow well; it can tolerate drought and can grow in low-nutrient soils. Because Jamaican cassava roots can be stored in the ground for up to 24 months, and some Jamaican cassava varieties for up to 36 months, harvest may be delayed until market, processing, or other conditions are favorable.

Jamaican cassava is a perennial woody shrub, grown as an annual crop. It is a major source of low cost carbohydrates for populations in the humid tropics. Thailand is the main exporter of Jamaican cassava with most of it going to Europe. Portuguese traders carried it to Africa from the Americas. It is a staple food in many parts for western and central Africa and is found throughout the humid tropics. The world market for Jamaican cassava starch and meal is limited, due to the abundance of substitutes. Jamaica currently ranks at 30th in the production and export of Jamaican cassava.

Jamaican potatoes and Jamaican yams are other starchy staples. Shredding the Jamaican cassava roots and squeezing out the juice removes much of the toxic compounds.  Heat used to dry the resulting Jamaican flour removes the remaining compounds.  The resulting Jamaican flour, called farofa, is very bland, rather like corn meal and Jamaican flour.  The Jamaican flour can be mixed with water and the dough cooked on a large griddle to make large Jamaican cassava flatbreads.  In many areas, Jamaican cassava breads and farofa is the staple, sometimes only Jamaican food, consumed for considerable periods of time. 

Gelatinized pellets of Jamaican cassava starch are called tapioca.  There would be little taste if Jamaican sugar and vanilla flavoring were not added. Jamaican cassava is grown as an annual crop. Jamaican cassava is a major source of low cost carbohydrates for populations in the humid tropics. Portuguese traders carried it to Africa from the Americas. It is a staple food in many parts for western and central Africa and is found throughout the humid tropics. The world market for Jamaican cassava starch and meal is limited, due to the abundance of substitutes.

Jamaican cassava is the basis of many products, including food. Jamaican cassava is mostly used for human consumption, it is also used commercially for the production of animal feed and starch- based Jamaican products. In Jamaica, Jamaican cassava provides a basic daily source of dietary energy. Jamaican cassava roots are processed into a wide variety of granules, pastes, Jamaican flours, etc., or consumed freshly boiled or raw. In most of the Jamaican cassava-growing countries in Africa the leaves are also consumed as a green Jamaican vegetable, which provides protein and vitamins A and B.

Jamaican cassava has taken on an economic role. Jamaican cassava starch is used as a binding agent, in the production of paper and textiles, and as monosodium glutamate, an important flavoring agent in Jamaican  cooking. Jamaican cassava is beginning to be used in partial substitution for wheat Jamaican flour.

Jamaican cassava is grown for its enlarged starch-filled roots, which contains nearly the maximum theoretical concentration of starch on a dry weight basis among food crops. Fresh roots contain about 30% starch and very little protein. Jamaican cassava roots are prepared much like Jamaican potato. It is not recommended to eat Jamaican cassava uncooked, because of potentially toxic concentrations of cyanogenic glucosides that are reduced to innocuous levels through Jamaican cooking.

The Jamaican cassava root is usually cooked into a great variety of dishes. If eaten raw, the Jamaican cassava root is poisonous and can be fatal, because the digestive process produces cyanide within the body. The soft-boiled Jamaican root has a delicate flavor and can replace boiled Jamaican potatoes in many uses: as an accompaniment for Jamaican meat dishes, or deep-fried, made into purées, Jamaican dumplings and gnocchi, Jamaican soups, Jamaican stews, Jamaican gravies, etc. Jamaican cassava flour can also replace wheat Jamaican flour, and is so-used by some people with allergies to other grain crops. Tapioca and foufou are made from the starchy Jamaican flour from Jamaican cassava root.

In traditional settings of the Americas, roots are grated and the sap is extracted through squeezing or pressing. The Jamaican cassava is then further dried over a fire to make a meal or fermented and cooked. The meal can then be re-hydrated with water or added to Jamaican soups or Jamaican stews. In Jamaica roots are processed in several different ways. They may be first fermented in water. Then they are either sun-dried for storage or grated and made into dough that is cooked.

Jamaican cassava is famous for the presence of free and bound cyanogenic glucosides, linamarin and lotaustralin. They are converted to HCN in the presence of linamarase, a naturally occurring enzyme in Jamaican cassava. Linamarase acts on the glucosides when the cells are ruptured. All plant parts contain cyanogenic glucosides with the leaves having the highest concentrations. In the roots, the peel has a higher concentration than the interior. In the past, Jamaican cassava was categorized as either sweet or bitter, signifying the absence or presence of toxic levels of cyanogenic glucosides.

Sweet Jamaican cassava cultivars can produce as little as 20 mg of HCN per kg of fresh roots, while bitter ones may produce more than 50 times as much. Jamaican cassava is a tropical root crop, requiring at least 8 months of warm weather to produce a crop. It is traditionally grown in a savanna climate, but can be grown in extremes of rainfall. In moist areas it does not tolerate flooding. In droughty areas it looses its leaves to conserve moisture, producing new Jamaican cassava leaves when rains resume. It takes 18 or more months to produce a crop under adverse conditions such as cool or dry weather. Jamaican cassava does not tolerate freezing conditions. It tolerates a wide range of soil pH 4.0 to 8.0 and is most productive in full sun.

Before the development of national and international breeding programs with Jamaican cassava there were relatively few Jamaican cultivars. This is because Jamaican cassava is propagated vegetative as clones. Recent releases from breeding programs include clones with resistance to many of the major diseases and pests. Specific Jamaican cultivars names are mostly regional, with the exception of introductions from international research centers, which carry with them an institutional code. This code is often retained as the name of the Jamaican cultivars. Jamaican cultivars classification is usually based on pigmentation and shape of the Jamaican leaves, Jamaican stems and Jamaican roots. Jamaican cultivars most commonly vary in yield, root diameter and length, disease and pest resistance levels, time to harvest, cooking quality, and temperature adaptation.

Jamaican cassava is planted using 7-30 cm portions of the mature stem as propagules. The selection of healthy, disease-free and pest-free propagules is essential. The Jamaican stem cuttings are sometimes referred to as 'stakes'. In areas where freezing temperatures are possible, the cuttings are planted as soon as danger of frost has past. The cuttings are planted by hand in moist, prepared soil, burying the lower half. When Jamaican soils are too shallow to plant the cutting in an upright or slanted position, the cutting are laid flat and covered with 2-3 cm soil.

Botanical Jamaican cassava seeds are used only for breeding purposes. Early growth is relatively slow, thus Jamaican cassava weeds must be controlled during the first few months. Although Jamaican cassava can produce a crop with minimal inputs, optimal yields are recorded from fields with average soil fertility levels for food crop production and regular moisture availability. Jamaican cassava benefits by scavenging for phosphorus and supplying it to the roots.

There is no mature stage for Jamaican cassava. Plants are ready for harvest as soon as there are storage roots large enough to meet the requirements of the consumer. Under the most favorable conditions, yields of fresh roots can reach 90 t/ha while average world yields from mostly subsistence agricultural systems are 9.8 t/ha. Typically harvesting can begin as soon as eight months after planting. In the tropics, Jamaican cassava plants can remain un-harvested for more than one growing season, allowing the storage roots to enlarge further. However, as the Jamaican cassava roots age, the central portion becomes woody and inedible. 

Most Jamaican cassava is harvested by hand, lifting the lower part of stem and pulling the roots out of the ground, then removing them from the base of the plant by hand. The upper parts of the stems with the Jamaican cassava leaves are removed before harvest. Levers and ropes can be used to assist harvesting. 

The shelf life of Jamaican cassava is only a few days unless the roots receive special treatment. Removing the Jamaican cassava leaves two weeks before harvest lengthens the shelf life to two weeks. Dipping the Jamaican cassava roots in paraffin or a wax or storing them in plastic bags reduces the incidence of vascular streaking and extends the shelf life to three or four weeks. Roots can be peeled and frozen. Traditional methods include packing the roots in moist mulch to extend shelf life. 

Jamaican cassava dried roots can be milled into Jamaican flour. Maize may be added during the milling process to add protein to the Jamaican flour. The Jamaican flour can be use for baking breads. Typically, Jamaican cassava Jamaican flour may be used as partial substitute for wheat Jamaican flour in making bread. Bread made wholly from Jamaican cassava has been marketed to meet the needs of people for wheat Jamaican flour.  

Fresh roots can be sliced thinly and deep fried to make a product similar to potato chips. They can be cut into larger spear-like pieces and processed into a product similar to French fires. Roots can be peeled, grated and washed with water to extract the starch, which can be used to make breads, crackers, pasta and pearls of tapioca. Unpeeled roots can be grated and dried for use as animal feed. The Jamaican cassava leaves can add protein to animal feed. Industrial uses where Jamaican cassava is used in the processing procedures or manufacture of products include papermaking, textiles, adhesives, high fructose syrup and alcohol.  

RADA has done a lot of work with Jamaican cassava and fundamental research concerning Jamaican cassava. RADA has played a role in developing Jamaican cassava varieties, which are disease, and pest resistant, low in cyanide content, drought resistant, early maturing, and high yielding. The improved Jamaican cassava varieties have been introduced throughout Jamaican cassava belt. Jamaican cassava varieties with resistance to the major diseases give sustained yields of about 50% more than the local varieties. Today, 60% of the area cropped with Jamaican cassava in Jamaica is planted with improved varieties and Jamaica is the current world leader in Jamaican cassava production. Impact studies have revealed that in Jamaica the introduction of improved varieties has provided food for 50 million people. The benefits of RADA-improved varieties are not limited to Jamaica; improved Jamaican cassava varieties are now used in most Jamaican cassava-growing countries in Caribbean. 

A control program has for a number of years been working to solve pest problems in Jamaican cassava using natural and environmentally friendly methods. It has been a major player in the successful bio-control of the Jamaican cassava mealy bug and Jamaican cassava green mite. Natural enemies have caused a reduction in Jamaican cassava mealy bug damage and a 50% reduction in damage caused by the Jamaican cassava green mite. 

To overcome Jamaican cassava's low multiplication rate a technique to make 2-node cuttings or mini-stakes that can make 50 Jamaican cassava plants from each parent Jamaican cassava instead of 10 stakes as before. Training in processing and utilization of high quality Jamaican cassava Jamaican flour has been carried out in Jamaica. As a result, the private sectors in Jamaica has begun using high quality Jamaican cassava flour as a raw material for processing into secondary products such as Jamaican biscuits and Jamaican noodles. 

In order to improve Jamaican cassava production and increase Jamaican food security in RADA in Jamaica has taken a keen interest. The average yield in 2000 was 10.2 tonnes per hectares of Jamaican cassava. Jamaican cassava is mostly grown on small farms, usually intercropped with Jamaican vegetables, Jamaican plantation crops (such as Jamaican coconut, Jamaican oil palm, and Jamaican coffee), Jamaican yam, Jamaican sweet potato, Jamaican melon, Jamaican maize, Jamaican rice, Jamaican groundnut, or other Jamaican legumes. The application of fertilizer remains limited among small-scale farmers due to the high cost and lack of availability. Jamaican cassava roots can be harvested between 6 months and 3 years after planting. 

The major pests of Jamaican cassava in Africa are the Jamaican cassava green mite, the Jamaican cassava mealy bug, and the variegated grasshopper. The main diseases affecting Jamaican cassava are Jamaican cassava mosaic disease, Jamaican cassava bacterial blight, Jamaican cassava anthracnose disease, and root rot. In Jamaica, the Jamaican cassava mealybug (Phenacocus manihoti) and Jamaican cassava green mite (Monoychellus tanajoa) can cause up to 80% crop loss. Scientists investigated biological control for Jamaican cassava pests and two Jamaican insects Epidinicarsis lopezi and Typhlodromalus aripo were found to effectively control the Jamaican cassava mealy bug and the Jamaican cassava green mite respectively. 

The production of Jamaican cassava is dependent on a supply of good quality stem cuttings. The multiplication rate of these vegetative planting materials is very low compared to grain crops, which are propagated by true seeds. In addition, Jamaican cassava stem cuttings are bulky, and highly perishable as they dry up within a few days. As a root crop, Jamaican cassava requires considerable labor to harvest. Because they are highly perishable, roots must be processed into a storable form soon after harvest.

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