Maca is an old crop, first cultivated about 2000 years ago in the San Blas area of central Peru. It used to be grown in the Puna grasslands of the Andes Mountains, on inhospitable terrain unsuitable for other forms of agriculture. Nowadays Maca thrives in this difficult environment, only at altitudes above 3500 metres. On this rocky ground, the maca does not seem to suffer from strong winds and temperatures down to -10 °C.
Maca is known to have natural insect repellent effects and is sometimes grown alongside other upland crops such as bitter potatoes. Andean farmers believe that maca protects underground tubers from pests. The maca plant grows in a rosette of leaves. The edible part of the plant is located under the soil where it is made up of the taproot and hypocotyl (the stem of a germinating seedling). The root swells to a harvestable root that is similar in shape to a turnip, and can be found in a variety of colors - yellow, cream, red, purple, blue, gray, black or green.
In the Junín region of Peru maca is consumed in large quantities. It is a readily available and highly nutritious source of food, in areas where traditional agricultural practices are impossible. It is eaten fresh with meat, cooked in underground ovens lined with hot stones (pachamancas), or dried before being cooked into porridge in the milk. A particular drink of maca is popularly called 'maca chica'. Another use is to grind the dried root into maca flour before frying.
Processing Maca to powder
Our maca is grown by a cooperative of local farmers at just over 4000 meters, in the province of Carhuamayo of the 'Meseta del Bombom' (Bombom plateau). The maca seed is sown in September at the beginning of the rainy season in the early morning, avoiding the strong winds on the mountainsides. After sowing, the seeds are buried using branches, or sheep are released into the field to kick them into the ground. The maca plants grow in winter and can be harvested in May when the roots are about 5 cm in diameter. The maca roots are dug out with a small hoe (cashu) to avoid damage. Then they are put in the sun for 10-15 days until they are dried.
These dried maca roots can be stored for up to seven years, but ours are quickly transported to a local processing plant where they are carefully weighed, cleaned and the best quality carrots selected for processing. These carrots are washed, disinfected and cut into small pieces of 10mm before being completely dehydrated at 45°C.
This dry maca root is then ground into a fine powder and tested for microbes before being packaged and shipped to the UK. Here we check the quality again before we distribute it to our distributors.
Healing effects of Maca
Maca has a high content of minerals, especially iron, potassium and calcium. Iron contributes to the formation of red blood cells and hemoglobin, oxygen transport in the body and proper functioning of the immune system. Potassium contributes to the normal functioning of the nervous system, muscle function and the maintenance of normal blood pressure. Calcium, in turn, helps maintain bones and teeth, the functioning of the nervous system and muscle function. Maca is also a source of zinc, which contributes to the functioning of various processes.
Maca grows naturally in a variety of colours. Studies have explored the variation in concentrations of certain metabolites associated with potential fertility-enhancing effects between different colours of maca root.
We also offer a mix of different types of maca roots made from red maca, yellow maca, purple maca and black maca roots. Together they offer a unique nutritional profile. Hand selected for the best quality.
Maca has been eaten in Peru for thousands of years and its reputation and popularity speaks for itself. Try to add it to smoothies, or bake maca in recipes to take advantage of the natural minerals of this "forgotten harvest of the Incas".