Your One Stop Shop For Crunch
Let’s talk about crunch—Yucan Crunch. We love these crisp, golden brown crackers because they give us permission to crunch. They’re gluten-free, grain-free, and with only one ingredient, they provide the satisfaction of crunch without worrying about the pesky details.
For Mission Heirloom, they are our crunchiest platform for flavor; a blank slate for you to brighten up with whatever topping you choose. We like to simply smear them with ghee or avocado. Try a bite-sized snack with some Nomato Sauce or an after dinner treat with Rawtella. And if you’re ever feeling extra crunchy, feel free to give them an extra toast at around 300 degrees F for about 5 to 10 minutes until your desired crunchiness is achieved.
Origins of the Crunch
Our Yucan Crunch crackers are handmade by artisanal groups around the Caribbean Sea out of 100% yuca (aka cassava or tapioca) root. In their many forms, yuca root crackers are an everyday food in much of South America.
While we firmly believe in and are advocates of the locavore movement, there are things that are best made where they originally come from. It has never been a second thought to make these crackers in house. Instead, we prefer to bring them up from South America for a number of reasons.
First, it is imperative we think about the environment. Yuca is native to South America and since we are firmly against introducing non-native species into California’s ecosystem, even in a greenhouse, we have to consider all the aspects of transportation.
Yuca is a very delicate root, and they do not keep well. In order for the root to stay edible, they need to be isolated from oxygen as soon as it they are harvested or they will go bad the next day. To prevent spoilage, a petroleum-based wax is used. This is the wax layer you may be familiar with seeing on much of the yuca root at your local supermarket. Evidence suggests that this wax is not biodegradable and can cause environmental damage. By processing the root into paste shortly after it is harvested in South America, we avoid needing to preserve yuca root in a wax coating.
As you well know, we are committed chemical-free food. A main function of the yuca root is to absorb and bring nutrients in, so it is almost undeniable that toxins from the petroleum wax will be absorbed. We actively work towards creating the least toxic food with the least toxic ingredients possible, and one method to do so is by avoiding wax coating entirely.
Many of the farms that grow yuca have built a bounteous farm that includes vegetables and grazing farm animals. Processing yuca root involves peeling and excess root that benefit animals on the farm by providing them with a valuable intake of fiber. By keeping the development of yuca root in its origin, we do not interfere with the symbiotic structure of the farm.
Furthermore, during the processing stages of creating a paste, 40% of the water in the root is lost. That makes the shipping of this product much more light and far more compact, resulting in fewer boxes and lighter cargo. Less weight means less pressure and pull from the airplane engine. We also use less boxes, and take up less space. So, as a whole, sticking to the place of origin helps us reduce our carbon emissions and packaging usage.
Seriously, We Crave CRUNCH!
In a 2005, a couple of researchers looked into how satisfactions of food is affected by sound. They launched a study in which they fed participants ultra-crisp chips while either blocking or amplifying the sound of the crunching noise in their mouths. When the participants munched on chips without any sound, they found the chips dull, boring, and stale. On the other hand, when the sound was amplified, participants reported the chips as crispy, fresh, and fun to eat. In other words, the sound of the chip crunching in your mouth adds an additional pleasure and enjoyment to the texture or sense of eating. Simply put, we crave crunch.
When you're following a clean, gluten-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, but they're safe for us people following a gluten and grain free lifestyle!
Digging Under the Surface, What the Yuca Root is All About
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 actually aren’t edible, a defining characteristic separating yuca from yucca. On the other hand, yuca is a tropical and subtropical crop that is cultivated as a food source.
The large, starchy yuca root is one of the most frequently eaten sources of carbohydrates and resistant starches 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 has plenty of nutritional benefits. Fresh yuca root is rich in fiber, calcium, vitamin C, potassium, and folate. These nutrients are concentrated (and the starch is almost completely eliminated) when the fresh yuca is drained and pressed into Yucan Crunch. And as you may already know, the crackers are totally gluten- and grain- free! While you may see tapioca (another name for yuca) served in conjunction with rice products (mainly in Asian products), the root is completely unrelated to the grain.
What’s the Process of Creating Crackers Like?
Like any artisanal, hand-made food, Yucan Crunch Crackers require time and skill to make. Indigenous peoples of Central and South America were eating yuca in its many iterations long before colonization. The artisans are called casaberos. They begin by making fiber-packed yuca paste. They peel and clean the roots before grating 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 palm tree 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 cyanogenic glucosides, which are all expelled upon draining and are of no concern.) Once the yuca is drained, the pulp is left to dry out overnight. The next day, casaberos sift the yuca pulp to remove large pieces. The fine sifted fibers make up the yuca paste.
After the yuca paste is made, it simply needs to be cooked. The casaberos spread out the sifted flour in a circle on a large stone or cast iron griddle that is placed upon a fire. It kinda resembles 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 Yucan Crunch is parbaked. Upon arrival, the crackers are given a finishing toast to crisp and brown the cracker.