- June 11, 2018
- Posted by: Dr. Nnamdi Elenwoke
- Category: Health tips
Taro as a Plant
Taro is a large, herbaceous plant that has the botanical name Colocasia esculenta. Generally, taro is a perennial plant that belongs to the family Araceae. Which recognized by its frilly and heart-shaped leaves. This develop at the end of long and stout petioles, which take the shape of an elephant’s ear.
Taro plant can grow anywhere and its height can be between 5 and 6 meters. Also called by some other names, such as dasheen, Chinese potatoes, cocoyam, curcas and dalo.
Taro is indigenous to India and Southeast Asia, and has earned the nickname “Potato of the Tropics”. The best place taro can grow is in warm humid climatic areas. That flourishing marshy locations with wet soils. It is an hard plant and these have been part of it to popularity in these areas. In fact, it is difficult for taro to grow and develop in flooded areas.
Taro root which is starchy, a corn which develops underground is the main food in this area. Including other areas such as China, Hawaii, Africa and the Caribbean. The taro root takes the size of a turnip but oblong-shaped. Which have a brown and fibrous (sometimes hairy) skin. Other features of taro root are having a circular rings. This is pointing to the place attached to the scaly leaves.
Some characteristics of Taro root
When cut, the flesh taro root in most varieties have a white or cream color. Although some other varieties have even purple spots. Swamp taro, giant taro and arrow leaf elephant’s ear are some of the most common varieties of this plant.
Taro root, softened when cooked, has a delicious and strong taste than tomato. Like to water chestnut. Although prepared in the same way as potatoes. Its taste is so popular that the taro embeds in countless dishes – from main entrees to desserts.
Although the most used part of taro is the root, keep in mind that large leaves are also edible. But keep in mind: root and leaves should always cook. This is because they are toxic when taken raw.
Culture and production
Taro can be grown in areas where there is abundant supply of water. Or in upland situations. Where rainfall is the only means of getting water or supplemental irrigation. Taro is one of the rare crops (with rice and lotus) that can be grown under submerged conditions. This is as a result of the air space in the petiole, which allows the change of gas under water with the atmosphere. For the largest amount of dissolved oxygen, the water must be fresh and flowing. Warm, stagnant water results to rotting. For biggest yields it is necessary to control the water level so that the base of the plant is always under water.
Cultivation of taro in a flooded area have some advantages over cultivation on a dry land.
1. Higher yields (around double)
2. Out-of-season production (which can lead to higher prices)
3. Weed control (that facilitates flooding).
But, in flood production systems, taro requires a longer maturing period. Investment in infrastructure and higher operating costs and monoculture is possible.
Like most other root crops, taro and eddoes thrive in deep, humid or even wet soils. Where annual rainfall is more than 2,500 mm. Eddoes are more resistant to drought and cold. The crop matures in six to twelve months after planting in dry cultivation. After twelve to fifteen months when cultivated on a wetland. You can harvest the crop when the height of the plant falls and the leaves become yellow. These signals are generally less diverse in the flooded taro culture.
Harvesting is usually done by the use of hand tools. Even in mechanized production systems. First, the soil surrounding the corn is loose, and then the corn is torn apart by capturing the base of the petioles. Total average yield is 6.2 tonnes / ha, but varies by region. In Asia, average yields reach 12.6 tonnes / ha.
How to Cook Taro Roots
The culinary purposes for taro root are endless. Being cooked in various tasty and sweet ways throughout the world. The most popular Hawaiian dish made from taro and eaten alone or as a side dish for meat. In some parts of India, it is often cut into cubes and added to curry. And in the US it is used as an aroma for bubble tea. As a general rule, treat taro root as a potato or sweet potato – roasted, cooked, simmer, mashed or roasted.
During preparation, you must put on gloves or wrap your hands around the towel. As fuzzy brown outside may irritate the skin. Cut this outer layer before cutting and roasting the roots.
Foods with taro, taro flour
Corms and taro leaves are processed and cooked before eating them. This is because they can be bitter and dangerous to health when eaten raw. However, parts of the plant are very safe after cooking (cooking, frying, steaming, etc.).
When you want to prepare taro, wash the corm, cut the ends, pull out the outer hairy skin with a knife. Put you’re the white inner body in cold water to remove sticky sap.
Here are some tips on serving:
For example In Hawaii, you ground the boiled root into a sticky paste called poi.
Kaulau: this is a traditional Polynesian coconut pudding dessert. In which, you mix boiled dasheen with coconut milk and brown sugar.
The corms are also used in the preparation of burgers, bread and flakes. Like pancakes, muffins, chips, flour, cookies, ice cream etc.
Taro leaves used in soup, pakora (known as pathrode in some parts of coastal South India).
How to store it
Storage: Keep the taro in a cool, dark and well-ventilated place, not in the refrigerator. For many people, a brown paper bag is enough at room temperature, but the root cellar would be better if you have it.
It is best to make use of taro as soon as possible because it can become softer. Storing Taro leaves for a few days in the fridge can be possible: store in a perforated plastic bag. Wipe them with a damp cloth before refrigerating.