kalo clip art

Preparing Kalo

Cooking kalo before you eat it is extremely important! As many unfortunate folks can tell you, ingesting it raw is a painful and unpleasant experience. These noobs can tell you all about it.

Raw taro contains calcium oxalate crystals. These are what cause itchiness when processing kalo and are even more harmful when they get inside you! The crystals are a major irritant, but can be rendered inert by smart prep work.

Once you have harvested and cleaned your corms or luʻau leaf, you need to prep it for cooking.

Cutting Into Pieces

To ensure that the corms cook evenly, you need to make sure the heat and steam can penetrate the entire kalo. This means cutting them down to size, if necessary.

I find for the cooking times and varieties I use that cutting them so that their widest point is 1-1/2 to 2″ or less usually works fine. This means you don’t have to cut small corms at all. A decent sized one I usually end up cutting into quarters.

You can cut smaller pieces for a faster cook time, but cleaning a few larger pieces is much easier than dealing with many small ones.

You can easily see (and taste!) when the kalo isn’t cooked all the way through. The center of the piece will remain a lighter color and obviously be a different texture. If this happens, just cook it for longer.

Cooking Methods

There are a number of ways to cook taro so that it’s palatable. These methods are presented in order of difficulty.

Boiling taro is not usually recommended because the nutrients leach out into the water.

Cleaning the Kalo

The sooner after cooking you peel and clean the kalo, the easier it will be to get the skin off. With high-quality corms you can usually just use your fingers to rub the skin off gently, using a little water to rinse.

I normally lift the whole bowl out of the Instant Pot (with oven mitts) while it’s hot and put it in the sink. Running the corm under cold tap water usually makes them safe to handle. I make sure to catch the running water in the bowl so it can cool off the waiting taro. When the bowl is full, I turn off the tap and wash the rest of the corms in the bowl to save water, rinsing with the tap as needed.

As you clean, peel the skin and also look for rotten or gummy spots. The very bottom of the kalo is the oldest and usually is where the corm will get rotten first. Each variety has their own characteristics and things to watch out for.

To make traditional, original recipe poi, the cleaning process is a bit different. Here you can watch Daniel Anthony clean and sort the different parts of the corm for poi:

How to cook kalo (recipes) >>>