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Taro Root

May 16, 2017

You may know that the taro root is the main component to the Polynesian food called poi. But, did you know that even people who dislike poi can enjoy the taro root prepared other ways? 

Availability & Origin
This vegetable is grown year-round and is native to Southeast Asia, India, China, and Hawaii. When explorers discovered Hawaii, they found hundreds of varieties of the taro root. 

Appearance & Flavor
You can find the taro root in a small variety or large variety. Large taro is cylindrical, but the small taro is plump in the middle and tapers to the ends. Both have dark brown skin. Their flesh can range between creamy white and pale pink and can have a purple tinge or purple spots. They both taste nutty, though the small variety is creamier than the large. When choosing, neither variety should be cracked, split, moldy, soft, or shriveled. 

Whole taro roots will last a few weeks in a dry, dark, room-temperature location. Stored in the crisper drawer, they'll keep for a week. After cooking taro, refrigerate the leftovers in an air-tight container for up to four days' worth of use. 

Ways to Enjoy
Both the leaves and the root are edible, but don't eat either raw as they are toxic-so cooking the taro is the way to go. Boil, steam, bake, or fry them like you would a potato. After cooking the root, serve it hot because its texture changes after it cools (except when fried). You can also create a paste to be used in desserts, such as this unique mooncake that will blow your guests away. 

The taro root is one of the earliest cultivated plants dating back to Roman times. Explorers spread the vegetable across the world. In Hawaii culture, the taro root is considered a sacred plant and a large part of their history.

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