Yacon - Polymnia sonchifolius

Yacon - Polymnia sonchifolius

Earth Apple

Sugar unfortunately has a long and sad history, but when you are addicted to sweet things, it becomes increasingly difficult to avoid. Enter Yacon, a plant from the sunflower family that produces an edible root that looks a lot like a sweet potato. While it’s not a sweet potato, it is sweet, and makes a great sugar substitute. And to top it off, the plant is absolutely beautiful.

Being from South America, Yacon is only hardy to zone 8, so it should be treated like an annual. When the first frost knocks down the tops of the plant it needs to be harvested. When it is dug up there are two types of tubers. The long ones that look like sweet potatos are your storage tubers that contain all the sweetness. The smaller cluster of tubers closer to the stem are what form the next year’s growth, sort of like eyes on a potato. Separate these smaller tubers and place them is some moist sharp sand for storage in a cool dark spot (a basement or crawl space should work fine, as long as they don’t freeze). Every month or two give them a little water so they don’t completely dry out.

Next year, when the danger of frost has ended, divide the tubers if you want new plants and then plant out for the next growing season.

"We still (sometimes) remember that we cannot be free if our minds and voices are controlled by someone else. But we have neglected to understand that we cannot be free if our food and its sources are controlled by someone else. The condition of the passive consumer of food is not a democratic condition. One reason to eat responsibly is to live free."


The storage tubers are what we eat and they can be eaten raw or cooked. When eaten immediately after harvest they taste like an apple that is not very sweet, but if they are left to ‘cure’ for a bit, they pick up a nice sweetness, that goes great in salads, fruit salads, or baked.


We mostly use the Yacon tubers as a sugar substitute, called Yacon Syrup; a delicious and easy to make sweetener that can help us all rage against the sugar machine.

Yacon Syrup

Wash and then peel storage tubers. Cut the tubers into cubes and then juice them. Eat or discard the pulp and place juice in a pan to boil. When the juice begins to heat up you will need to skim off the foamy material that floats to the top (you will need to do this often). Let the pot simmer until you reach a honey like consistency, a 5:1 ratio (which could take up to 8 hours or more of simmering). After it cools down filter the liquid through some cheese cloth. The liquid is your syrup, and what is left over can also be saved and also used as a sweetener.