Thursday, March 5, 2015


One of the veggies I can grow quite successfully is dasheen, a type of taro. It grows very well on my homestead farm. Dasheen is a bit different from other taros in that one doesn't grow it for the main corm, but rather the numerous "baby corms" that form under and around the mother plant. The main corm is too "itchy", being quite loaded with oxalates. But the small dormant corms are edible with proper cooking. 

There are a few dasheen varieties popular on the island. I have no idea which one I'm growing, but I'm happy with it. It's productive and basically trouble free. 

I never heard of taro or dasheen prior to moving here. I had heard of poi, but only in a negative way. "Tastes and feels like paste" is what I heard. But since moving here I've been exploring the local foods. Dasheen, taro, and poi turned out to be just fine. It's all a matter of how they are prepared and eaten. 

When I harvest dasheen, the dormant corms are generally around the size of goofballs. Some are roundish, others longish. Not all the corms are dormant. Those that are sprouting are used for propagation. But I normally see around 20 dormant rooms per plant.

To prepare dasheen corms, I wash them and give them a light brushing to remove any dirt and loose skin. Then they are boiled in a pot of water for 20 minutes. I add a bit of salt to the water because several people have told me that salt helps eliminate the itchiness. I don't know if that's true or not since I haven't tested the theory yet. Anyway... I'll remove the largest corm and test it for itchiness. Cutting it open I'll sample a small piece from the interior, just touching it to my lips. That's all that is needed. If my lips begin to tingle, then the dasheen needs 5 more minutes. If not, then I remove the pot from the heat, pour out the water and allow the dasheen to cool. (Side note: for people who are real sensitive to the itchiness, taro & dasheen can be cooked in a pressure cooker. It's a more effective cooking method.) Once cool, I use a knife to gently scrape off the skin, give them a quick rinse to clean them, then pop them into the refrig until I'm ready to use them within 24 hours. I've never tried storing cooked dasheen longer than that so I don't know if it's works. 

Cooked dasheen can be used in a variety of dishes. Some of the ways we eat it...... Diced into stir fries. Diced into desserts such as fruit salad. Blended into smoothies. Fried like potatoes. Chunked into stews and soups. Blenderized then added to gravy or soups. Diced and seasoned in a variety of ways, such as with chilies, garlic, savory or rosemary. Dasheen by itself is bland. So it needs to be served with something flavorful. My mother cooked up dasheen once, thinking that they were little potatoes. She reported that Hawaiian potatoes are really bland. She had no idea that she had just served her husband taro. 

Now that we are eating fewer potatoes, dasheen and taro have taken their place. So far, hubby isn't complaining much. He says that they're not as good as potatoes, but ok. 


  1. I guess I'm sorta weird, in that I've always LIKED poi - not so much for taro, but give me one or two finger poi, goes with meals about anytime. I was getting good crops of Yukon Golds in Maui, so I was spoiled on that. Then again, I love grits, too.

  2. Barry, among the haole, you're really weird! (Still laughing) I seldom meet a non-locale that says that they actually LIKE poi. So yeah, looks like an me. :)

    I like poi mixed with herbs. Then I eat it as a dip with carrot and celery sticks. Aaahh', to each his own. A friend likes poi and dried fish or smoke meat. Another prefers sour poi.

    By the way, I love grits!