Also known as manioc or yuca, cassava is a root vegetable native to Central and South America, and popular throughout the tropics, where it’s used in many of the same ways as the potato. There are two main varieties: bitter and sweet. The former is toxic, and must be treated before consumption, whereas the more watery sweet cassava can be eaten raw. In Britain, cassava is mostly found in the form of tapioca pearls, made from cassava flour.
Cassava is available year round. It’s quite hard to peel, so it’s easiest to buy it ready prepared and frozen. If you do see it fresh, look for a clear outer skin and white flesh.
Cassava discolours quickly when cut, so keep it whole in the fridge and use within a couple of days. Once peeled, cover it with acidulated water until ready to use. To freeze cassava, peel, cut into chunks, and freeze.