These wrinkly-pinkly things, looking like colourful, overgrown witchetty grubs, are oca tubers.
Oca (Oxalis tuberosa) is a South American edible tuberous plant grown in the same way as potatoes. You plant the tubers in spring and as the weather warms, the foliage appears above ground. The stems are pink and fleshy and rather brittle. They tend to break easily. The leaves are grey-green and trifoliate (for the non-botanists that’s having 3 leaflets).
You hill up the soil around the stems and give them plenty of water if the weather’s hot. They don’t mind a bit of shade in the heat of the day. In hot sun the leaflets will fold right back.
As the weather cools in late autumn the foliage will start to die back and you can start fossicking around in the soil for the crop of tubers. They’re crisp and crunchy, with a slight lemony tang. Leaving them on the soil surface in the sun for a couple of days will sweeten them up. They can be boiled, baked or fried. No need to peel, just scrub the skin free of dirt. In Mexico, oca is commonly sprinkled with salt, lemon and hot pepper and eaten raw. So far I’ve only eaten them raw. Leaving enough tubers uneaten (select the biggest) to replant the following spring is the hardest part. Store them in moist sand, sawdust or replant straight away. Out of sight, out of mind (and mouth).
Linda Cockburn, who with partner Trev and son Caleb, are now living the Good Life in Tassie, has written more about oca in her blog.