Taro leaves are the large, leafy green leaves that grow above ground of the taro root, a common staple in many Asian cuisines. African and Caribbean cuisines feature the leaves much more prominently, though they are a frequent addition to Asian dishes. Similar in appearance to squash or cucumber leaves, you must clean taro leaves thoroughly to remove dirt, bacteria and other impurities. All you need is a large bowl and cold water to effectively clean the leaves. In their raw form, taro leaves contain calcium oxalate, a naturally-occurring toxin that causes itching and burning in the throat. Quickly cooking the leaves destroys the toxin, however, making the leaves safe to eat. If you are highly allergic to calcium oxalate, consider wearing gloves while handling taro leaves.
Things You'll Need
- Large bowl
- Salad spinner (or paper towels)
Cut off any thick stems from the bottom of the taro leaves.
Place a large bowl in your sink and fill it with very cold running water. Do not use warm water, as it will cause the leaves to wilt.
Submerge the leaves in the water and swish them around with your hands.
Remove the leaves from the bowl. Don't strain them through a colander, as this will trap all the dirt you're trying to remove.
Fill the bowl with cold water again and submerge and swish the leaves. If you can still see dirt in the bowl, empty it, refill it and rinse the greens again. Repeat this process until the water is clear.
Dry the leaves with paper towels or in a salad spinner, especially if you don't plan to use them immediately. Wet produce can encourage the growth of harmful bacteria.
Tips & Warnings
- If your taro leaves are limp and wilting, submerge them in a bowl of ice water for five minutes or so before using.
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