The jicama, the part we eat, is the root of the jicama plant. The outside has a potato like covering, once peeled the white interior is revealed. It has a sandy texture, crunchy but not very hard, and has a very neutral taste. It tastes slightly sweet and very moist.
The jícama plant is a vine native to the tropical Americas that can reach a height of 4-5 m given suitable support. Its root can attain lengths of up to 2 m and weigh up to 20 kg. The root's exterior is yellow and papery, while its inside is creamy white with a crisp texture that resembles that of a raw potato or pear. The flavor is sweet and starchy. It is usually eaten raw, sometimes with salt, lemon juice, and powdered chile. It is also cooked in soups and stir-fried dishes. Notable raw jícama dishes in China and Southeast Asia include popiah and salads such as yusheng and rojak.
In contrast to the root, the remainder of the jícama plant is very poisonous; the seeds contain the toxin rotenone, which is used to poison insects and fish.
Jícama is high in carbohydrates in the form of dietary fiber. It is composed of 86-90% water; it contains only trace amounts of protein and lipids. Its sweet flavor comes from the oligofructose inulin (also called fructo-oligosaccharide), which the human body does not metabolize; this makes the root an ideal sweet snack for diabetics and dieters.
The jícama is today also cultivated in warmer parts of China and Southeast Asia.
Jícama should be stored dry, between 12 °C to 16 °C (53 °F to 60 °F); colder temperatures will damage the root. A fresh root stored at an appropriate temperature will keep for a month or two.