Today we’re here to talk about crunch—Yucan Crunch. We love these crisp, golden brown crackers because they give us permission to CRUNCH, even while eating gluten- and grain-free. Our Yucan Crunch crackers are handmade in the Dominican Republic out of 100% yuca (aka cassava or tapioca) root fiber. Yes, that means they’re made from only one (1) ingredient. There’s no dairy, eggs, salt, or sugar! The crackers an everyday food in the Dominican Republic as well as Venezuela, where they’re called casabe.
YUCAN CRUNCH AT HOME:
When the yuca crackers arrive in our kitchen, they are fairly soft and pale. Before we hand them over to you, we toast the crackers in our oven to make them crisp and golden brown. Now their super crunchy texture definitely deserves the name Yucan Crunch.
We like to eat Yucan Crunch with a thick smear of ghee or coconut oil and a sprinkle of mineral-rich sea salt, but that’s not the only way to enjoy these crackers. They’re a perfect platform for both sweet and savory flavors.
For a fun snack, consider making fun Yucan Crunch pizzas with a drizzle of tomato or “nomato” sauce. Or after dinner, try them spread with “rawtella.” Yucan Crunch can be served any time that you’d normally eat bread or crackers—the only limit is your imagination. Share your creations with @missionheirloom on Instagram or twitter using the hashtag#yucancrunch!
NERD OUT ON YUCAN CRUNCH!
Why is “crunch” so important? In 2005, a couple of researchers in Britain ran a study to learn more about the interplay of sound and the enjoyment of foods. They fed participants ultra-crisp Pringles chips while either blocking or amplifying the sound of the chips crunching in their mouths. When the participants munched on chips without any sound, they found the chips dull, boring, and stale. Conversely, when the sound was amplified, they found the chips more crisp, fresh, and fun to eat. In other words, the sound of the chip crunching in your mouth creates pleasure and enjoyment. We crave crunch!
When you’re following a clean, gluten- and grain-free diet, it’s very hard to find snackable foods that are both crunchy and delicious. That’s why we are so excited about Yucan Crunch—they’ve got all the crunch of typical chips, minus those pesky grains.
What is Yuca? Despite its similar spelling, yuca is an entirely different plant than yucca. Yuccas are species of perennial shrubs and trees that are used for decorative purposes. They aren’t edible. On the other hand, yuca is the name for a tropical and subtropical tuber crop that is cultivated as a food source. The indigenous peoples of Central and South America were eating Yuca in its many iterations long before Europeans came to the New World. The large, starchy yuca root is one of the most frequently eaten sources of carbohydrates in the tropics. Yuca can be boiled and eaten like mashed potatoes, sliced and baked into chips, ground into tapioca, or grated and dried into crackers.
Despite being a starchy carbohydrate, yuca does have nutritional benefits. Fresh yuca root is rich in fiber, calcium, vitamin C, potassium, and folate. When the fresh yuca is drained and pressed into Yucan Crunch, these nutrients are concentrated and the starch is almost completely eliminated. And while you may see tapioca (another name for yuca) served in conjunction with rice products, it is completely unrelated to the grain.
How are Yucan Crunch crackers made? Like any artisanal, hand-made food, Yucan Crunch crackers require time and skill to make. Each cracker is made by hand in the Moncion, a small town of 15,000 in the Dominican Republic. There, the inhabitants rely solely on the production of these crackers.
To transform raw yuca root into the cracker, the artisans (called casaberos) first make fiber-packed yuca flour. They peel and clean the roots, and then they grate them on a special device called an egi. Next, they pack the pulp into a special draining contraption called a sebucán. Sebucáns are long, cylindrical woven sacks with a handle on each end. One handle slips over a tree or a hook on the ceiling. The casaberos then pull on the bottom handle to squeeze out the starchy liquid from the yuca pulp. (Fresh yuca root contains fairly high amounts of toxic cyanogenic glucosides; these are all expelled upon draining.) Thecasaberos sift the yuca pulp to remove large pieces and the fine sifted fibers make up this special yuca flour.
Once the yuca fiber flour is made, it simply needs to be cooked. Thecasaberos spread out the sifted flour in a circle on a large stone griddle that is placed upon a fire. It looks much like a giant crepe. As the yuca cooks, the fibers bind together to form a solid mass. Once the bottom has sufficiently cooked, the cracker is carefully flipped to cook the second side. At this point, the flat bread is ready to eat, but we always give our crackers a second toasting to further crisp and brown the cracker.
Some artisans add different flavorings, like fruit or coconut to the mix. We like to start with the plain version—a blank slate, if you will—and add our own toppings at home and in the kitchen.