Chocho (Lupinus mutabilis) is an annual herb native to the central highlands of Peru that grows up to 2 m tall. It produces hairy pods up to 10 cm long containing oval-shaped beans. The bone-white seed contains more than 40% protein and 20% fat, is rich in lysine and has been used as a food by Andean people since ancient times, especially in soups, stews, salads and by itself mixed with boiled corn. It can also be dried and ground to make a flour. It is said that consuming chocho flour and water while fasting for two months can reduce glucose levels. This species was domesticated during pre-Hispanic times more than 1500 years ago. Its production and consumption is linked to ancestral practices in the Andes. The ancients developed techniques to extract the bitterness from the grain, for which they established cultural agreements in order to practice together. First it was boiled for about an hour, and then it was placed in bags of permeable fabric and is left in running water (of a river) for up to 10 days. During the colonial period, the first written reference to chocho came from a priest, Father Valverde, who in a letter to the king of Spain in 1539 suggested that taxes were paid with this grain. Although it is a very nutritional plant, its use is disappearing despite having been a staple food in ancient times. Today, it is found only in Cajamarca, Cusco and Puno in small quantities and for household use. Chocho has a soft seed coat that makes for easy cooking, though it may not be more widely used because of its bitter taste, due to the alkaloid content. However, the alkaloids are water-soluble and can be removed by soaking the seeds for some days in water. Cultivation is decreasing due to the lack of an established market for this legume.Back to the archive >
Back to the archive >
Ark of taste
The traditional products, local breeds, and know-how collected by the Ark of Taste belong to the communities that have preserved them over time. They have been shared and described here thanks to the efforts of the network that that Slow Food has developed around the world, with the objective of preserving them and raising awareness. The text from these descriptions may be used, without modifications and citing the source, for non-commercial purposes in line with the Slow Food philosophy.