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Taro

Colocasia esculenta


Photo courtesy of Horticulture New Zealand

Description

Taro, a starchy root crop similar to potatoes, comes in a variety of colours and sizes and is commonly used in Pacific Island cuisine.

It’s not grown commercially in New Zealand so the taro you buy is likely to be imported; What’s Fresh has included it only because it’s a popular vegetable.

Taro cannot be eaten raw. It’s considered toxic due to containing calcium oxalate crystals, also known as raphides, which can cause itching and kidney stones. To minimise this toxicity, it’s essential to cook it thoroughly. The leaves are also toxic, but can be eaten once cooked.

Taro is a good source of complex carbohydrates, fibre, and vitamins A and C. It also contains some zinc, thiamine and folate.

Choose taro that’s heavy for its size and has no bruising or soft spots. Store taro in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place.

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History

Taro is native to Southeast Asia, and is one of the oldest cultivated plants. It was probably introduced to the Pacific Islands by ancient seafarers from Southeast Asia.

Uses

Traditionally, taro was cooked in earth ovens. It can be cooked and used in almost all the ways you would potatoes. In Samoa, it’s also used to make a dessert called fa’ausi, which consists of grated taro cooked with coconut milk and brown sugar.

Facts

Because it’s used in so many countries, taro is known by a number of other names, such as dasheen in the Caribbean, eddo in the West Indies, toran in South Korea, and kilkass in Lebanon.

Taro is a member of the calla lily family.



Tomatoes »« Sweetcorn

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