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«Andean roots and tubers: Ahipa, arracacha, maca and yacon M. Hermann and J. Heller, editors Promoting the conservation and use of underutilized and ...»

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In 1994, I observed rural women in Huila use the starch for small spongy cakes called bizcochuelos (for example Doña Lucila Jiménez, El Grifo, Municipio Altamira). In Manta, Cundinamarca, arracacha starch has been used in the past for bocadillos (cookies); however, the industry is about to disappear and only one starch processor has remained (Mr Gómez; Dr Isabel Hernández, 1994, pers. comm.). The extraction of starch from arracacha (and other roots and tubers, such as Canna edulis, cassava and Maranta arundinacea) is basically the same in rural households throughout Colombia. The roots are washed, peeled and grated over a metal sheet, which is perforated with a nail to provide an abrasive surface. The resulting pulp is suspended in water and subjected to several cycles of washing and settling until a white and clean starch sediment is obtained. Households produce hardly more than a few pounds for home consumption or para el gasto as people in the northern Andes say.

The only evidence for commercial arracacha starch use comes from the Bogotábased Ramo company, whose production philosophy is to systematically retrieve traditional cookie recipes and turn them into modern products. The company has offered for decades a successful product line, called colaciones, which is a traditional Colombian assortment of cookies. To achieve particular textures in this product, Ramo employs a number of starches, mainly from cassava and achira (Canna edulis), but also small amounts of arracacha starch, which was found to enhance crunchiness 124 Arracacha (Arracacia xanthorrhiza Bancroft) in the baked product. The company does not reveal product compositions, but annual use of arracacha starch in 1994 was said to be 5 t, all derived from a companyowned extraction plant. Research at Ramo’s laboratories resulted in the development of several pastry products with elevated arracacha starch contents (up to 30%), such as bocadillos and bizcochitos, but because of problems with arracacha starch supply these products can not be launched yet (Hermann 1994).

Arracacha starch is of a brilliant white colour and has comparatively small granules. In a given sample, the granules between 5 and 35 µm diameter, generally account for 80-95% of total starch volume (as determined with a laser diffraction counter). The granule size distributions for storage roots, rootstocks and cormels (of an Ecuadorean clone) are quite different (Fig. 14). With an average diameter of 17.2 µm, starch granules in roots are bigger than those found in cormels (11.1 µm) or rootstocks (13.3 µm). The size range of cormel and rootstock starch granules, both absolutely and in relation to average size, is narrower than the size range of root starch.

However, viscoamylography shows that during gelatinization there are no significant differences between the starches from different plant fractions. Peak viscosity of arracacha starch measured with a rapid viscoanalyzer (RVA) was lower than that of potato, oca (Oxalis tuberosa), achira (Canna edulis) and ulluco (Ullucus tuberosus ) starches (concentration: 2 g/25 ml). Initial, peak and final gelatinization temperatures recently measured by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) were found to be 50, 58 and 67°C, respectively. The gelatinization enthalpy as revealed by DSC is 2.9 J/g dry starch (Hermann, unpublished results). Amylose content was determined by Dufour et al. (1996) in Colombian material (18.5%) and by Villacrés and Espín (1996) in six Ecuadorean clones (average: 20%). Raffauf and Izquierdo (1994) give a range of 10-12% of amylose obtained in different plant parts and under different growth conditions of one Ecuadorean clone. Amylose-free arracacha cultivars have recently been found in Colombia (Dr D. Dufour, 1997, pers. comm.).

The opportunity for arracacha starch on the market lies perhaps with its exceptionally low syneresis (Raffauf and Izquierdo 1994), even at low acidity (pH = 2.4; Dufour et al. 1996). Usually, syneresis in food products is minimized by the use of modified starches. These, however, are increasingly perceived as 'unnatural' ingredients and replaced with native starches to give ‘ecological’ appeal to processed food. Moreover, native starches are considered food ingredients rather than additives and their proportion in processed food is not subject to regulations. This prompted Raffauf and Izquierdo (1994) of Nestlé’s Latin American Research & Development Center near Quito to explore yield potential, extractability and production economics of arracacha starch. It is not clear whether Nestlé contemplates product development involving arracacha starch.

Starch use could add considerable value to the conventional production of arracacha for the fresh market, as starch is also contained at high levels in rootstocks Exudation of a liquid from a starch gel, for example in food products subject to freeze-thaw cycles.

Promoting the conservation and use of underutilized and neglected craps. 21. 125 and cormels. These account usually for much of the total biomass (see Table 4) and are often left to rot in the field. The costs of starch manufacture from harvest residues and non-commercial roots would essentially be those for transport and processing.

Starch from arracacha roots, by contrast, would be much costlier to produce as the raw material is highly valued on the fresh market. It remains to be seen whether root starch can be produced at competitive prices and/or whether niche markets can be identified, for example in the food industry, where specific starch qualities are required (see above). Cost estimates based on different scenarios range from US$1.33/kg of arracacha starch in Colombia (Hurtado et al. 1997) to US$2.57/kg in Ecuador (Raffauf and Izquierdo 1994). These estimates do not take into account the possibility to reduce costs by selecting clones high in starch content. Likewise the potential for improving extraction efficiencies was not considered by Hurtado et al.





(1997) who report starch yields of only 6-11% per root fresh matter and extraction efficiencies as low as 24-50% of starch per root dry matter, which may have resulted from the use of inadequate equipment. Although data provided by Raffauf and Izquierdo (1994) were from 10-month-old (and prematurely harvested?) plants, their experiment shows that arracacha can be an interesting starch source when roots and Fraction of total starch volume

–  –  –

crowns are processed: starch yields were between 4.7 and 8.0 t/ha and 14-18% of fresh matter and the extraction efficiency varied between 64 and 68%.

5.4.4 Fermentation During field work in Quetame, Cundinamarca, I recorded a use of arracacha that still seems to be common in that part of Colombia. Guarapo de arracacha or chicha de arracacha is a mildly alcoholic beverage. Its preparation is similar to that of the Amazonian masato, which is made from cassava. To prepare guarapo, boiled arracacha roots are ground and allowed to cool for a night. Then the ground mass is passed through a cloth or screen, water and raw sugar are added and the mixture is left to ferment for 3 days (information from José Vicente Rojas Torres, Finca Mermejal, Estaquecá, 1994) (Hermann 1994). Bristol (1988) mentions the former use of arracacha for chicha-making among the Sibundoy Indians (southern Colombia) and there is a reference to it for the Colombian Orinoco and Amazonas (Duque 1994). It has also been reported from Peru (Hermann, 1988, field notes).

The term ‘guarapo’ in general is reserved for fresh and fermented sugar cane juice: ‘chicha’ denotes maize beer.

Promoting the conservation and use of underutilized and neglected crops. 21. 127 6 Taxonomy and biosystematics

6.1 Umbelliferae There are an estimated 300 genera and between 2500 and 3000 species in this family, which is also called Apiaceae. The Umbelliferae are cosmopolitan but rare in lower latitudes. A little less than one-third of the umbelliferous species occur in the New World, a figure approximating the proportional land mass (Mathias 1971).

Umbelliferae are frequent in temperate highland areas and particularly diverse in moderate climates and in the Mediterranean (Heywood 1978). In the tropics, many species occur at high altitudes (Friedberg 1978), some well above the tree limit (Maas and Westra 1993).

Chemically, the Umbelliferae are characterized by high contents of essential oils, coumarins, polyacetylenic constituents and flavonoid compounds. The seeds contain aleurone grains (reserve store of proteins) but are free of starch. Sucrose is the main sugar in subterraneous storage organs (Hegnauer 1978).

The Umbelliferae is a family of eminent economic importance. Its uses involve storage roots (Bunium bulbocastanum, Daucus cauota, Lomatium sp., Pastinaca sativa), vegetables (Apium graveolens, Foeniculum vulgare), kitchen herbs (Anethum graveolens, Anthriscus cerefolium, Petroselinum crispum, Levisticum officinale), aromatic seed (Carum carvi, Coriandrum sativum, Cuminum cyminum), numerous medicinal and poisonous plants (Conium maculatum, Ferula spp., Oenanthe spp.) and ornamentals (Eryngium giganteum, Ferula spp., Heracleum spp.) (Heywood 1978; Kunkel 984).

6.2 Genus Arracacia Bancroft Arracacia BANCROFT, Trans. Agr. Hort. Soc. Jamaica 1825: 5 (1825).

Perennial or biennial, stout to slender, glabrous or pubescent, erect, caulescent, branched or simple herbs from taproots or tubers. Leaves petiolate, alternate or some opposite, pinnately or ternately divided with large leaflets, to decompound with linear to filiform ultimate divisions. Petioles sheathing at base. Inflorescence of lax to compact, usually pedunculate compound umbels. Involucre usually 0. Rays numerous to few, spreading-ascending to divaricate and reflexed. Involucel bractlets few, narrow, longer or shorter than the flowers and fruit, or 0. Calyx teeth 0; petals oblanceolate to obovate with a narrower inflexed apex, yellow, purple (maroon), or white; styles slender to short, erect, spreading or reflexed. Stylopodium conic and conspicuous or depressed and indistinct. Carpophore bifid to deeply 2-parted, flat or terete. Fruit lanceolate or oblong to ovoid, compressed laterally, usually narrowed toward apex, rounded at base; mericarps subterete, glabrous or pubescent; ribs prominent, acute or obtuse, or filiform and indistinct; vittae 1 to several in the intervals, 2 to several on the commissure; seed face usually sulcate or concave.

Arracacia Bancroft is a genus of about 30 species, extending from Mexico and Central America to Peru and Bolivia (Mathias and Constance 1976). The Mexican species are described in Mathias and Constance (1944, 1968, 1973) and Constance and Affolter (1995a, 1995b). Arracacia xanthorrhiza is the only cultivated species.

Arracacha (Arracacia xanthorrhiza Bancroft) According to Constance and Affolter (1995b), the genus occupies a position central to a number of New World apioid genera, such as Tauschia, Coaxana, Coulterophytum, Myrrhidendron and Neonelsonia, all of which have been confused with it. The authors conclude that “unsuccessful attempts to define Arracacia to the complete exclusion of all these other genera” are more than a century old and that the generic delimitation of Arracacia has not been solved yet.

Efforts to properly define species within Arracacia have been hampered by the lack of appropriate herbarium material and cytological and field studies. The inadequacy of this situation has changed little since Constance wrote in 1949: “Many of the collections are immature or lack significant structures; others are not readily referable to any described entity but are scarcely adequate for the typification of a new one” (Constance 1949). Mature fruits, which are important in the systematics of the Umbelliferae, are often lacking in herbarium material. Germplasm collectors should therefore seek to include such material in their collections. From the viewpoint of the present paper, it is particularly regrettable that, with few exceptions, botanists have not included root material in their voucher specimens, a problem that greatly impairs the analysis of biosystematic relationships to the cultivated arracacha. On the other hand, germplasm collectors have seldom made herbarium vouchers, so that only fragmentary cultivated material is available in herbaria (Castillo and Hermann 1995).

6.2.1 South American species of genus Arracacia Bancroft We consider now nine Arracacia species for South America. The geographical distribution of these species is given in Figure 1. The following account of their taxonomy attempts to synthesize the work of Dr Lincoln Constance and the late Dr Mildred E. Mathias, expert taxonomists for the Umbelliferae who published together from the University of California for almost 40 years (Constance 1949; Mathias and Constance 1941, 1955, 1962, 1976). Their work is being continued at Berkeley by Constance and Affolter (1995a, 199510). Although a revision of Arracacia is overdue (especially in those entities that show close affinities with the cultivated arracacha), the species descriptions and localities of voucher specimens provided in the literature are compiled here and discussed. Access to these data is difficult in South America and this compilation should provide a useful tool for explorers of the genepool of Arracacia. Exsiccatae resulting from recent collections also have been included.

The following species descriptions define all South American Arracacia species as caulescent herbs. According to the definition used here, ‘caulescent’ is a condition where the flowers and fruits arise from a leafy stem with distinct internodes, as opposed to the ‘acaulescent’ condition, where the flowers and fruits emerge directly from a basal leaf rosette (Dr L. Constance, 1996, pers. comm.). In that sense, all South American taxa of Arracacia are indeed caulescent. However, this definition obscures significant differences in growth habit and phenology in this genus and current taxonomies do not take into account the diagnostic value of these differences which will be briefly explained.



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