For some, taro is an acquired taste, and others never learn to like it, while some are immediate fans.
If you want to try taro for yourself, don’t give up until you have tried it in a couple of different forms. You might still find a type of taro you love!
Although taro is most popular as a flavoring in Asia, in recent years it has become much more popular in the west. You can now find taro sweets, popsicles, and desserts almost anywhere.
What does taro taste like? Let’s find out.
What Is Taro?
Taro is one of the world’s oldest crops. It has been providing food for human beings for more than 10,000 years.
We have been growing taro for so long that we have no way of knowing where it originated because we have spread taro cultivation as we moved and migrated around the world.
It is estimated that taro started somewhere in Southeast Asia, but quickly spread to the Pacific Islands, India, and Africa, where it has become a common food source.
Taro is a root that grows underground and is rich in complex carbohydrates that give us energy. It’s also packed with nutrients that we need for good eyesight, bone development, and more.
What Does Taro Boba Tea Taste Like?
Many people’s first taste of taro will not be a cubed chunk of steamed taro root – instead, it will be a popular flavoring in boba (bubble) tea.
Taro boba tea is sweet, thick, and milky with a taste that many people compare to caramel or vanilla. It has even been compared to chocolate. The flavor of taro boba tea is only similar to these flavors, however.
It has its own unique flavor that is difficult to describe and puts some people off. Not everyone likes taro boba tea. For many, it is an acquired taste that takes a few different drinks to develop but holds strong once it is there.
What Does Taro Powder Taste Like?
Taro powder is a starchy, concentrated powder made from taro used to flavor cookies and baked goods, to add to smoothies and drinks, and to provide taro flavoring where you can’t add chunks of cooked taro root.
You can use a little bit of taro powder or a lot to get the flavor concentration you want, but in general, the powdered form o taro is stronger, sweeter, and more “artificial” than taro root, although that is likely what cooks are going for when they use powder.
What Does Taro Look Like?
Taro is a root that has a similar shape to a potato or sweet potato. The exterior skin of taro is much tougher and coarser than a sweet potato and appears similar to a coconut husk.
You can also notice that there is a band pattern to how taro grows and the root seems divided into rings with marked lines on the exterior.
When you cut into taro raw, the flesh is hard like a potato or sweet potato, and either pink, purple, or white with pink specks, depending on where it is grown and harvested.
What Texture Does Taro Have?
Raw taro is hard, and cooked taro root has a texture similar to potatoes. It is soft and light, without being chewy or stringy. Cooked taro can even be mashed like potatoes.
Are There Different Types Of Taro?
There are more than 100 different subvarieties of true taro, but there are really only 2 that you are likely to find in the grocery store, in the United States anyway.
Dasheen is a variety of large taro that frequently needs to be cut into smaller sections to be sold. It is much thicker than the average person’s arm. When it is cooked, the flesh is dry and crumbly like potato or cauliflower.
Eddoe is much smaller, becoming no larger than a lemon. They are smaller and easier to use in small amounts than the massive dasheen taro, but they are also blender and moisture.
Where Does Taro Come From?
Taro is a tropical crop that is grown in equatorial regions around the world.
Although it likely originated in Southeast Asia, taro is widely cultivated in Asia, India, Australia, the Pacific Islands, and Latin America.
It is one of the foremost subsistence crops for some of the poorest people on earth, who benefit from its high sugar and nutritional content.
Is Taro Healthy?
Taro is an incredibly healthy food, packed with nutrients and antioxidants, that would make a great addition to any diet.
Taro is a great source of complex carbohydrates – the sugar that keeps your body running. It provides the raw energy you need to replace your cells, run, walk, jump, and exist in the world.
Compared to other sources of carbohydrates like potatoes and rice, taro is healthier because it includes a lot of fiber and resistant starches that take longer for your body to digest, so sugars are released more equally without creating a spike in blood sugar.
Taro also includes many different nutrients and antioxidants that white potatoes and white rice are missing.
What Are The Dangers Of Eating Taro?
Taro in its raw form is poisonous. It wouldn’t be particularly appetizing anyway (we don’t normally eat raw potatoes, either) but it is important to note that you could become sick if you ingest taro that hasn’t been properly cooked.
Taro contains a compound called calcium oxalate that can cause intense irritation to your skin and throat.
These compounds are neutralized in the cooking process, but before it has been cooked you should wear gloves while handling taro to avoid skin irritation, and never ingest uncooked taro.
If you or someone you love, including a pet, eats uncooked taro, you should seek help immediately.
Cooked taro root is very safe and delicious, but some people are allergic. If you are trying taro for the first time and experiencing any uncomfortable symptoms, you should stop and see if the symptoms go away. Listen to your body.
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How Can I Store Taro?
Taro should be stored in a cool, dry place like you would store potatoes. If you don’t have a cellar or a cold cupboard, a brown paper bag to cover them will help.
Like potatoes, taro has a long shelf life and can last a long time at room temperature.
Can You Freeze Taro?
Yes! You can freeze taro for up to 3 months. It just takes some basic preparation.
First, you need to peel and cut the taro root into cubes. Remember to use gloves to keep your hands from getting itchy from the calcium oxalate.
Then, blanch the cubes by dropping them into boiling water. You don’t need to cook the cubes thoroughly – you can do that later.
However, the blanching process helps the cubes freeze better so that they can be added to whatever you are making, directly from frozen, when you are ready.
After your taro cubes have been blanched for 2 minutes in boiling water, drop them into ice water to cool them down and drain any excess moisture carefully, patting down the cubes with a paper towel if necessary.
When you are finished, your taro cubes are ready to be placed in plastic bags and added to your freezer.
They will be good there for up to 3 months. Remember that although the taro has been blanched, it still has to be thoroughly cooked to be safe to eat.
Can You Grow Taro?
Taro has been cultivated by humans for thousands of years, and there is no reason you can’t start your own taro crop in your backyard,
Unless, of course, you live in the wrong climate.
Taro is a tropical plant that doesn’t like cold weather. In subtropical regions, there has to be a very long summer and more than a little luck.
To produce the corms that we eat as taro root, a taro plant needs 200 uninterrupted warm days without a single frost. You can grow taro in a greenhouse for its leaves, but it won’t produce corms.
If you live in a tropical region where taro likes to grow, you will still need some patience. It takes 9-12 months for Taro to fully mature.
Taro Nutritional Value
per 1 cup of taro root, according to WebMd.com
Taro Recipes: Quick Table
|Taro Stuffed Steamed Buns||n/a||n/a|
|Tasty Taro Fritters||149||50 Minutes|
|Taro Root Soup With Lentils||n/a||n/a|
I encountered these treats for the first time when I was teaching English in Taiwan, and they were my introduction to the world of taro. The filling is bright purple or pink with a sweet, buttery taro flavor.
These steamed buns are surprisingly easy to make, with a filling that is just taro, milk, sugar, and sweetened condensed milk. The sugar brings out the sweetness and the other flavors in taro, to make it a classic Asian treat.
It does take a little while to make at home, but this recipe produces enough steamed buns that you can put plenty of them in the freezer to be thawed and steamed when you are ready for them.
Total Preparation Time: n/a
One thing that I love about taro root is that it is so good at taking on the other flavors around it, and it has a mild quality that allows those other flavors to shine.
That makes it the perfect base for a fritter. It has a lightness, softness, and sweetness that allows other flavors and ingredients to emerge.
This Cuban-inspired recipe for taro fritters uses chili powder and ginger to accent the taro flavor, and deep fries each fritter in oil to create a mouth-watering snack that is crunchy, salty, and spicy, too.
If a little bit of chili and ginger isn’t spicy enough for you, you can add cayenne or jalapeno to this recipe to kick it up a little bit. Just make sure you include the recommended cucumber sauce prescribed here to cut the heat.
Total Preparation Time: 50 minutes
Taro is often used as a base or an accent. For example, in fritters, it forms a carbohydrate base for other flavors, while in Boba tea or steamed buns it is a concentrated flavor that is highlighted.
I love this recipe because it features taro root on its own, in hearty cubes, served with a wholesome broth and lentils.
This comforting soup doesn’t have any overwhelming flavors but offers the simple and natural flavor of cooked taro root to be enjoyed on its own merits.
If you want to experience the simple goodness of taro, rather than use it as a base or a concentrated flavor, this recipe gives you a template for simple taro soups.
Total Preparation Time: n/a
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Taro Taste Like Coconut?
Not really. Although taro and coconut are both white with a mild flavor, coconut is much sweeter with a different texture, and the taste is not really the same.
However, taro and coconut pair very well together. There is a nutty flavor to taro that complements the sweetness of coconut, and many dishes use both coconut and taro together.
What Tastes Similar To Taro?
Taro is starchy and sweet, with a mild flavor. It is probably most similar to sweet potatoes, which are similarly sweet, starchy, and filled with minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.
Is Taro Sweet Or Bitter?
Taro is sweet and doesn’t have a bitter taste. Taro root has a mild sweetness, like sweet potato, while taro boba tea, taro powder, and desserts made with taro have a much sweeter and idiosyncratic flavor that has been compared to caramel and vanilla.
How Healthy Is Taro?
Taro is very healthy. It is a source of complex carbohydrates that provides energy without any blood sugar spikes and provides high amounts of key nutrients while being rich in antioxidants.
Compared to potatoes or even sweet potatoes, taro is a healthy alternative.
How Do You Pronounce Taro?
This depends on where you live and who you are talking to. It’s one of those po-tate-o, puh-taht-o things.
The emphasis is on the first syllable, and the “a” vowel can be either long or short.
Taro is pronounced either “TARE-o” (like a tear in a piece of fabric) or “TAR-o” (like the tar used in asphalt).
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