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Growing, Consuming Taro and How to Properly Prepare the Stems for Cooking

Precy loves to write about many topics, including how to grow some of the most wonderful plants in the world.

If there's one plant that fascinates me as a kid, it's taro. Taro leaves just don't get wet, they repel water. Rainy days means fun time as I watch rain drops roll into ball of water before it drops on the ground.

Taro is another sun-loving plant that is found common in vegetable gardens in Asia. While some grow taro for its showy, large heart-shaped leaves keeping it as a decorative plant, taro is often cultivated for its edible corms, stems and leaves. A tropical, perennial plant native to South Asia and South India that can grow up to 4 feet.

Growing taro is easy, even in pots and containers and you will have your own fresh taro corms. You can even grow taro just for the leaves and stem, which what my family is doing. Keep on reading as I share ours grown in containers and learn how to properly prepare taro stems for cooking.

Taro

Taro

What Parts of Taro Are Edible?

The stems, leaves and corms are edible. It's been a staple food in some countries like Africa and South India. In the Philippines, taro which is known as gabi is one of the most commonly grown plant for consumptions.

Be careful though not to try consuming it raw as the plant contains calcium oxalate which can be neutralized by cooking the taro or by soaking first before cooking.

How Taro Is Consumed

  • The corms can also be roasted or baked just like sweet potato and is a good source of potassium, zinc, and even manganese. Enjoy taro corms with fresh grated coconut and some sugar when boiled. Despite getting slimy when cooked, the corms is also a preferred ingredient in some dishes. One for example is the Ilocano dish, dinengdeng.
  • Taro leaves are used as wrappers. Pinangat is a Filipino dish which calls for taro leaves. It is used to wrap the fish and simmered in vinegar, water, chopped ginger, onions, and garlic.
  • The corms is also an ingredient in bilo-bilo. A Filipino favorite dessert during cold rainy days.The Chinese use taro in making desserts, and cakes such as the taro cakes for their New year celebration.
  • In Greece, taro is served as a salad after being boiled.
  • Corms and stems are consumed in Japan, it depends on the variety with the stems while the corms are most likely boiled in soy sauce and fish stock.
  • Taro is cooked in Turkey with beans, peas, and meat.
  • The leaves and stems are cooked in coconut milk.

Preparing Taro for Cooking

Taro Leaves Preparation

I've seen two ways the taro leaves are prepared for cooking. The method I'll share is how my parents prepare taro.

1. Separate the leaves from the stems. Wash the leaves first and and shred. Dry it under the sun. Or — dry the leaves halfway before shredding and putting them back to dry under the sun.

2. Check on the leaves and dry them evenly. Set aside when totally dried. It is better to shred the leaves before drying them than when the leaves are completely dried and crisp.

Taro Stems Preparation

Taro stems are often cooked with the dried leaves in coconut milk. Here's how to correctly prepare taro stems before cooking.

1. Using a knife, start on either end of the stem to remove the thin layers. See photo below. Repeat and work on each stem before preparing each into about an inch long.

2. Dry the taro stems evenly under the sun.

Not removing the thin outer layer on the stems will make the stems chewy.

Removed skin from taro stems before drying.

Removed skin from taro stems before drying.

What Would You Get from Eating Taro?

  • Taro is a good source of C vitamin, fiber and protein when the leaves are consumed.
  • Including the corms in your meals provides B vitamin. It also provides other important minerals such as iron, manganese and copper.
  • Taro provides magnesium to help our muscles and bone health.
  • Taro is high in fiber and E vitamin.
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Prepared taro leaves and stalk drying under the sun.

Prepared taro leaves and stalk drying under the sun.

Taro leaves are also available online, dried and ready to use which can come in handy specially when taro is out of season or not available fresh in stores.

Dried taro leaves and stems cooked in coconut milk.

Dried taro leaves and stems cooked in coconut milk.

Folkloric Uses

  • Taro is used to help with liver ailments.
  • Poultice of the roots is used in infected sores.
  • Juice from taro leaves are used to treat otalgia, adenitis, and internal hemorrhages. Not only that, it is also use to treat insect bites, snake bites, and even scorpion stings.
  • Juice is also consumed to reduce fever.
  • The juice of the corm is used to treat alopecia (hair loss).

Growing Taro

Even with limited space, taro can be easily grown from corms in pots or containers. Taro corms love dark and warm spaces and you'll be surprise with sprouts if you leave them in such places.

Plant the top portion where the developing sprout is in fertile, well-draining soil. You can still use most part of corm for consumption if the corm is still fresh and usable. Taro loves a lot of sunlight but also does well in part-shade locations too. Keep the soil moist specially with the growing, young taro plants.

Taro corms already sprouting after being kept in a dark, warm place.

Taro corms already sprouting after being kept in a dark, warm place.

Young taro starter plant growing in 4" pot grown from corm that sprouted.

Young taro starter plant growing in 4" pot grown from corm that sprouted.

Other Names Taro Is Known For

  • Taro is known as gabi in the Philippines.
  • In Lebanon, taro is known as kilkass and is mainly grown along the Mediterranean coast.
  • Known as arvi, or eddoe in Pakistan.
  • Known as toran in South Korea and taro is made into toranguk, which is a traditional Korean soup.
  • Taro, called ocumo chino in Venezuela is used in soups.
  • Kalo in Hawaii.
  • Taro is known as aroei in Suriname by the native Indians.


Comments

precy anza (author) from USA on March 30, 2014:

@ Avian:

And thank you for dropping by here. Have a great weekend :)

@ DDE:

It is indeed unique. And all parts are edible.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 21, 2014:

Taro Plant is unique and new to me I enjoy learning about new plants.

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on February 05, 2014:

I never even realized that this was elephant ears. Thanks for the great info.

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