Singkamas/Yam Bean | A Toxic Vine With Edible Taproot

I love eating singkamas. A singkamas that has been aged for about a week or two. It has a property similar to yacon, blunt taste at harvest time, sweet taste after over ten days.

Its expected shelf life is one to two months under ambient temperature and dry storage condition. Go and age that singkamas before munching.

singkamas yam bean jicama

Singkamas or yam bean is rich in vitamins and minerals and almost no carbohydrates – good for dieting. Known to prevent heart diseases. Rich in dietary fiber, low sodium content and a rich source of potassium.

Other plant parts are poisonous however. Matured seed is poisonous, the rest of the plant except the edible taproot is toxic. It contains retenone, a poison found in other plants like barbasco, tuba plant, jewel vine and duboisia. It is classified by World Health Organization, WHO, as mildly hazardous. Less likely to cause poisoning cause the irritating property makes one vomit. The lethal dose when ingested intentionally is 143 mg per kg body weight.

Yam bean seed poisoning is somewhat similar to cyanide intoxication showing signs such as periodical numbness, nausea, vomiting, difficulty in breathing, loss of consciousness  and death if not given attention immediately.

Yam bean seed is a popular insecticide. According to oisat.org – 500 grams seeds are ground and soaked in 20 liters water for one to two days. Applied on plants in early morning or late afternoon. It’s effective against aphids, flea beetles, stink bugs and leaf eating caterpillar. Also been used for killing animal parasites,reducing fish population and poison fishing – pagtutuba ng ilog .

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

How to Make Singkamas / Yam Bean Pickles

1) Prepare five percent brine solution. Place a suitable container on a digital weighing scale. Tare. Measure 25 grams salt. Then pour water gradually to attain total weight of 500 grams. Or, mix one part salt and 19 parts water by weight. Heat just to dissolve all salts.

2) Get singkamas. Remove adhering soils and dirt by washing in several changes of water. Peel off the skin. Cut to desired sizes. The length, shape and thickness similar to french fries is ideal.

singkamas yam bean

3) Arrange singkamas pieces in jars. Fill with brine. Place a small bag of water on top to prevent slices from floating.  Store for three days. Drain and replace with pickling solution – see next step.

singkamas slices in brine

4) Place a suitable container on digital weighing scale. Tare. Measure 150 gram sugar. Then add regular cane vinegar gradually until the weight reaches 500 grams. Or, mix three parts sugar and seven parts vinegar by weight. Heat to near boil and infuse spices wrapped in cotton cloth for five minutes.

water bag to soak yam bean slices

5) Pour pickling solution on fermented singkamas and cover while still hot. It is ready for consumption after three days. The original Brix of pickling solution maybe restored after this period. Measure the original sugar concentration. Measure it again after three days. Drain it off and add sugar to restore the first reading. Or, drain off and replace with a freshly prepared mixture.

Never use lead kettles. Vinegar dissolves harmful lead. Spices can be cinnamon, chili, pepper, ginger etc…

Additional none related info:

1) All plant parts are poisonous except the edible root. Scary!

2) Drink water before eating singkamas. Doing the reverse makes the water taste bad. I wonder why!

3) Storing freshly harvested yam bean for a weak or so allows the development of sweet flavor. A feature similar to yacon.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.