Cissiee Bordelon

Written by Cissiee Bordelon

Modified & Updated: 02 Jun 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


Oca, also known as New Zealand yam or ñame, is a versatile and nutritious root vegetable that has been gaining popularity in recent years. With its vibrant reddish or yellowish skin, Oca is not only visually appealing but also packed with nutrients and health benefits. Originally cultivated in the Andes mountains of South America, Oca has now spread to various parts of the world, including New Zealand, where it is commonly found.

In this article, we will explore 18 fascinating facts about Oca that will not only deepen your knowledge of this unique tuber but also make you appreciate its culinary potential. From its rich history to its nutritional value and incredible adaptability, Oca is a vegetable worth getting to know. So, let’s dive in and discover the wonders of Oca!

Key Takeaways:

  • Oca, a colorful and tangy root vegetable, has a rich history and is packed with nutrients. It’s versatile, resilient, and gaining global popularity for its unique taste and health benefits.
  • You can grow oca in your home garden and enjoy its vibrant tubers. With its long shelf life and sustainability, oca is a culinary gem worth exploring for its fascinating history and delightful flavors.
Table of Contents

Oca has a rich history.

Oca has been grown and enjoyed by indigenous people in the Andes for over 4,000 years. It played a significant role in their diet and culture.

Oca is native to the Andes.

This small tuber hails from the high-altitude regions of the Andes Mountains in South America, particularly Peru and Bolivia.

Oca comes in various colors.

While oca is commonly bright yellow or pink, it also comes in a range of other hues, including red, orange, and even purple. The vibrant colors make it visually appealing and add a touch of excitement to any dish.

Oca is packed with nutrients.

This humble tuber is a nutritional powerhouse, loaded with vitamin C, potassium, and dietary fiber. It is also low in calories, making it a healthy addition to any meal.

Oca provides a tangy flavor.

The taste of oca is often described as tangy, slightly acidic, and refreshing. Its unique flavor profile adds a delightful twist to various recipes.

Oca is incredibly versatile.

From soups to stir-fries, oca can be cooked in various ways. It can be roasted, boiled, mashed, or even pickled, allowing you to experiment and get creative in the kitchen.

Oca is a resilient crop.

Oca is known for its ability to thrive in diverse climates and soil conditions. It can withstand both extreme temperatures and high altitudes, making it an important food source in challenging environments.

Oca has a long growing season.

Unlike many root vegetables, oca has a relatively long growing season, typically taking around 7 to 9 months to reach maturity. Patience is key when cultivating this flavorful crop.

Oca belongs to the wood sorrel family.

Oca is a member of the Oxalidaceae family, which also includes wood sorrel, another edible plant with similar tangy-tasting leaves.

Oca has unique tuber formations.

One of the distinctive features of oca is its tubers, which take various shapes, including round, elongated, and even knobby. The diversity in tuber forms adds visual interest when serving dishes that incorporate oca.

Oca tubers grow underground.

While the leaves of the oca plant are visible above ground, the tubers develop beneath the soil, maturing and accumulating nutrients until they are ready to be harvested.

Oca is a great source of carbohydrates.

With its high carbohydrate content, oca provides a significant energy boost, making it a valuable staple food in regions where it is cultivated.

Oca has medicinal properties.

In traditional medicine, oca is believed to have various health benefits, including improving digestion, boosting the immune system, and even reducing inflammation.

Oca has a long shelf life.

When stored properly, oca can last for several months, making it an excellent option for long-term storage and food security.

Oca leaves are also edible.

In addition to its tubers, the leaves of the oca plant can also be consumed. They have a sour taste similar to wood sorrel and can be used in salads or cooked as a tangy side dish.

Oca is a sustainable crop.

Oca is considered a sustainable crop due to its ability to fix nitrogen in the soil and its low environmental impact compared to other commercial crops.

Oca is gaining global popularity.

Although predominantly consumed in the Andean region, oca is gradually gaining recognition worldwide for its unique taste and nutritional value.

Oca can be grown in your home garden.

If you want to experience the joy of growing your own oca, you can cultivate it in your home garden. With a bit of patience and the right conditions, you can enjoy the satisfaction of harvesting your own vibrant tubers.

In conclusion, oca is a remarkable root vegetable that offers not only a tangy burst of flavor but also a fascinating history and a range of health benefits. Whether you are a culinary enthusiast or simply curious about exploring global cuisine, adding oca to your culinary repertoire is definitely worth a try. So, embrace the flavors of the Andes and savor the unique delights of this culinary gem!


Oca is a fascinating root vegetable that is often overlooked but offers a wealth of benefits and interesting facts. From its rich history to its nutritional value and culinary versatility, there are many reasons to include oca in your diet. Whether you’re looking to experiment with new flavors, boost your immune system, or add a pop of color to your meals, oca is a fantastic option. So why not give this underrated tuber a try and discover a world of flavor and health benefits?


1. What is oca?

Oca, scientifically known as Oxalis tuberosa, is a root vegetable native to the Andes region of South America.

2. How does oca taste?

Oca has a unique flavor that can be described as tangy, lemony, and slightly acidic, with a touch of sweetness.

3. How is oca prepared?

Oca can be boiled, roasted, steamed, or even eaten raw. It can be enjoyed as a side dish, added to salads, or used as a main ingredient in various recipes.

4. What are the nutritional benefits of oca?

Oca is a good source of vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and antioxidants. It can help boost your immune system, aid digestion, and promote overall health.

5. Can oca be grown in different climates?

Oca is a versatile crop that can be grown in various climates, although it prefers cool temperatures and well-drained soil.

6. Are there any culinary uses for oca?

Absolutely! Oca can be used in a wide range of dishes, including soups, stews, stir-fries, and even desserts. It can be boiled, mashed, roasted, or pickled to add a burst of flavor to your meals.

7. Is oca a sustainable crop?

Yes, oca is an environmentally friendly crop that requires minimal irrigation and can be grown without the use of pesticides. It also helps improve soil quality and biodiversity.

8. Can oca be stored for a long time?

Oca tubers can be stored for several months in a cool and dark place. However, they should be checked regularly for any signs of spoilage.

9. Is oca suitable for people with dietary restrictions?

Oca is a gluten-free and low-calorie vegetable, making it suitable for individuals with gluten intolerance or those watching their calorie intake.

10. Where can I buy oca?

Oca can be found in select grocery stores, farmers’ markets, or online specialty food suppliers. It may be more commonly available in regions where it is grown locally.

Oca's fascinating history, vibrant colors, and unique flavors make this Andean tuber a must-try for adventurous eaters. Exploring oca's versatility in the kitchen opens up a world of culinary possibilities, much like discovering the edible plants nasturtium. Oca's Peruvian roots also tie it to the Peruvian cuisine championed by renowned chef Gaston Acurio. As a fellow tuber, oca shares similarities with tiger nuts, celebrated annually on World Tiger Nut Day. Embracing lesser-known vegetables like oca adds excitement to your cooking and supports sustainable, diverse agriculture.

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