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Author Topic: Tacca leontopetaloides  (Read 679 times)

Caesar

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Tacca leontopetaloides
« on: June 28, 2018, 11:08:49 PM »
This one's been on the edge of my radar for years, but I've never given it a fair chance 'cause there's so little information available on it, and what is available makes it sound like a famine food (of the poor quality type). It's toxic in its raw form, but that's true of a lot of staple foods, from yams to taro and many more. These more-common species have their toxins readily dealt-with by a simple boiling session, which is the standard cooking method of starch roots anyway. Indeed, that is the standard by which I measure starch roots: if they're edible after merely peeling and boiling them (to the exclusion of other processing steps), then they're a good garden crop, but if they require jumping through hoops to get rid of any toxins, then they're no better than a famine food (like a lot of wild yams), or at least not ideal for home processing (I view bitter cassava this way).

Well I've looked high and low for information on this species, but the only explicit references to its edible nature mention starch extraction & washing, or soaking the root (plus other steps) to use it. Not a single source explicitly confirms nor rejects the idea of simply boiling the root to eat it, like a normal vegetable. Does anyone here have any experience with it as a crop (not an ornamental)? Can anyone confirm whether or not it can be eaten like a normal root veggie (boiled, not heavily processed)? I'm really keen to try this one out, but I don't wanna waste my time with something that I can't eat as a proper vegetable.

For the record, I may as well ask... Can Maranta arrowroot be used as a vegetable, or is it only useful as an extracted starch?

Caesar

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Re: Tacca leontopetaloides
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2018, 10:06:21 PM »
I answered my own question on the latter point. According to Grower Jim (link here), Maranta Arrowroot can be eaten boiled, roasted, baked or fried. So essentially it's a fair root vegetable, and incidentally happens to excel at extractable starch production (to the point where it's better known for this than for its fresh-cooked uses).

Regarding Tacca Arrowroot, I scoured the net again searching high and low, and though I didn't find explicit confirmation that it can't be used boiled, the information pretty much leads me to that conclusion. Plants for a Future (link here) mentions raw and roasted consumption, but I think that thoroughly misrepresents its use (raw is said elsewhere to be medicinal and used sparingly) and its danger (with some sources claiming it to be lethal). Most sources stuck to the standard processing techniques as described here.

Perhaps considering it a low-quality famine food is unfair, as it really does seem productive for starch, and has been well-used in its native range (and beyond it). Nevertheless, like bitter cassava, it definitely isn't a proper vegetable, but rather a starch source. I suppose I wouldn't mind having it around tucked in a corner some day, but it's not really a priority for me. With the very wide range of starchy crops available that don't require processing (though they can be ground into flour), I think it's best to stick with those for home consumption. The only processing starch crop that really calls my attention (for its sheer productive potential, and its alleged quality) is True Sago Palm (Metroxylon sagu), but that's a conversation for another time.

 

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