Cassava, manioc and yuca are all names of the same tuber with brown fibrous skin and white earthy-tasting flesh depending on which part of the world you are in.
What is Cassava?
Cassava is a starchy root vegetable that has been used in many parts of the world for centuries. It’s also known as manioc, tapioca, yuca, mandioca and casabe. The plant grows in tropical climates all over the world and can be found growing wild or cultivated. In fact, it was first domesticated by native people in Africa and then spread to other regions around.
Cassava is arguably the more widely used name for this longish tuber that measures about 6 to 8 inches in length and about 2 inches in width upon maturity.
The cassava plant can be found all over Africa, South America, Asia and Eastern Australia. Cassava is one of the most important food crops in the world and it has been used for centuries by people who live in these areas.
Cassava comes in the sweet and bitter variety and must always be cooked or boiled before consumption due to its natural cyanide content.
You can buy either frozen or fresh sweet cassava at your local shops as whole or partial tubers. As a flour, it is considered a good option for gluten-free baking as it is a viable replacement for all-purpose or regular flour. In French, it is called farine de manioc also known as cassava flour in English.
Confusion could arise when your local shops support both labels of cassava flour and tapioca flour. Our article cassava vs tapioca helps to further clear up this confusion in terms of their uses and how to spot their differences once and for all.
What Does Cassava Taste Like?
With its white firm flesh, cassava tastes earthy, slightly sweet and soft after it has been boiled or cooked, much like a sweet potato. Its skin needs to be washed and peeled and it is poisonous, if eaten raw.
However, once it is roasted, chopped, dried, and grounded into flour, it loses much of its natural acid that causes bitterness and cyanide poisoning. The taste is still earthy yet mild and neutral so it will not impart any unexpected taste, making it ideal for your baking and cooking needs.
Cassava starch or tapioca starch is made from the starchy liquid of cassava root. The root is pulverized into a pulp, then squeezed and dried, leaving a white, odorless and tasteless powder that can be used as an additive in food products. It has been used for centuries to make foods more palatable and to improve texture.
Is Cassava, Manioc and Yuca the same?
Yes, they are just different names given to the same root vegetable.
The cassava plant is a drought-tolerant native to South America, Africa and Asia. In these regions, it is widely cultivated and consumed as a major staple food.
Yuca is the Spanish word for cassava whereas manioc is from French.
Sometimes cassava can be called tapioca. It really depends on which part of the world you are in and what the manufacturer has chosen to label it as.
Is it Yuca or Yucca?
It depends on what you are referring to. Both names do exist but are referring to two different types of plants.
If you are meaning to refer to the edible tuber vegetable of the cassava plant or Manihot esculenta then it is yuca. It belongs to the Spurge plant family and it is cultivated prolifically in tropical climates for its roots.
The yuca plant grows to an average of 10 feet but it is not uncommon for it to double in height in other regions.
Yuca is pronounced as “yoo-kah” if you are referring to the tuber whereas yucca, the flowering ornamental plant, is pronounced as “yuk-kah”.
As for the other name, yucca is referring to a plant found natively in North America, Mexico and the Carribean. It is related to the Asparagaceae a flowering asparagus family.
The yucca is a tall tree-like perennial plant with large leaves and yellow flowers that grows to an average of 4 to 40 feet tall.
Both plants look very different as well in terms of their foliage. Many of the Native American tribes that grew up being surrounded by this plant have developed extensive uses from it.
The yellow flowers are actually edible, and have been described as tasting like a cross between green beans and artichoke with a slight bitter taste. It does not produce a root vegetable at all.
There have been many instances that restaurants may misspell “yuca” as “yucca” in their menu by naming their dishes as “yucca chips” or “yucca soup”.
But now, you know better…
Is Yucca and Manioc The Same?
No, they are not. Yucca (yuk-kah) is an ornamental desert plant that does not bear any edible root tuber. It is often misspelled as “yuca” (yoo-kah) which is the name given to a plant that produces brown fibrous tubers with a slightly sweet and bitter white flesh that has similar texture and properties to potatoes.
Therefore, if you are referring to the root vegetable then you will want to call it yuca (yoo-kah) and not yucca (yuk-kah).
Yuca can also be referred to as cassava, tapioca, mandioca and casabe depending on which part of the world you are in.
Is Cassava, Manioc and Yuca The Same Summary
Cassava, manioc and yuca are the same names given to the same woody plant. Being a plant that grows well in many parts of the tropical countries, it has also come to be known as mandioca and casabe in other languages.
It is sometimes confused with being called yucca (yuk-kah) instead of yuca (yoo-kah) but it is more of a misspelling than anything else as both plants are clearly different in use and physical appearance.
In terms of flour, you can produce two types of flour from the cassava root which is cassava flour and cassava starch which is the starchy liquid that has been squeezed and dried out leaving behind the flour. They both contain different properties and are meant for different uses in cooking and baking. This flour-based starch is sometimes labeled as tapioca flour or tapioca starch.
- Eve Mayhew is a stay-at-home Mum, graphic designer and wife who takes more of a relaxed and practical approach to her lifestyle. She prefers to live a more stress-free life and enjoys food and drink in moderation by counting her blessings rather than counting the calories or feeling guilty over the odd soft drink or fast food fix every now and then. (Contact Author)