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What is taro used for?

Poi · Table taro · Lū‘au-greens · Kūlolo · Non-traditional food · Famine food · Traditional use ·
Landscaping- horticultural use

Poi A product of steamed kalo which has been peeled and pounded into a thick paste (pa‘i ‘ai) and mixed with water until the desired consistency is achieved. Click here for more information.

Table taro Steamed kalo that is best served like a potato. Usually dryland kalo that is unsuitable for making poi is consumed as table taro.

Lū‘au or greens Lū‘au is the leaf blades of the taro plant, washed, cleaned, and boiled, baked, or steamed for consumption. Lū‘au is high in vitamins A, B and C, as well as calcium, iron, phosphorus, thiamine and riboflavin. Although fewer vitamins are found in cooked kalo and poi, they provide an excellent carbohydrate source and balance the pH factor in the body, as they are an alkali producing food. The petioles () of some kalo are consumed as steamed greens. Laulau consists of pork, beef, salted fish, or kalo tops wrapped in kalo leaves and baked in an underground oven (imu), steamed, or broiled.

Kūlolo A sweet pudding made from baked or steamed grated kalo and coconut cream.

Non-traditional food Modern uses of kalo include a flour made from milled corms to make baked goods or pancakes; taro chips which are like potato chips, but made from kalo; patties made from kalo and soy products instead of beef (taro burgers).

Famine food Kalo that was not normally used for food except when other food sources became scarce.

Traditional use Other uses of kalo in the Hawaiian culture. Medicinal taro varieties were used to treat or cure human ailments. Kalo was the kinolau (body form) of the Hawaiian gods Kane (the great life giver) and Lono (god of peace, planting and fertility). As such, kalo was one of the foods offered to appease these two gods in particular. Leaves and petioles of the taro plant were used to make dyes for kapa (bark cloth).

Landscaping or horticultural use Horticultural varieties which are used primarily to incorporate in garden, lawn and exterior plant design, not necessarily for consumption.

Caution: All parts of the kalo plant must be cooked before consumption in order to break down the needle-like calcium oxalate crystals present in the leaves, stem, and corm. Eating any part of a taro plant that is not properly prepared will cause extreme irritation to the throat and mouth lining, resulting in an acrid burning and a stinging sensation.

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