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Poi Facts Last Updated: Mar 24, 2009 - 3:48:49 AM


What Is Poi Anyway?
By Marcia Zina Mager
Jul 3, 2004 - 12:40:00 PM

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What is poi anyway?

    1. Fresh squeezed coconut juice
    2. Sour pineapple pudding
    3. A Jewish expression of disgust
    4. Nutritious food made by pounding taro

Just in case you're ever in the million dollar hot seat, here's everything you need to know about Poi:

  • Poi is made from the popular taro plant: the 14th most cultivated crop on earth.
  • Known in scientific circles as Colocasia esculenta, taro is cultivated both in the dry uplands and in marshy land irrigated by streams. The planters of wetland taro built walls of earth reinforced with stone to enclose the taro patch, or lo`i .
  • Although taro is eaten around the world, only Hawaiians make poi. Traditionally they cooked the starchy, potato-like taro root, or corm, for hours in an underground oven called an imu. Then they pounded the taro corms on large flat boards called Papa ku`i`ai, using heavy stone poi pounders called pohaku ku`i `ai. The taro was pounded into a smooth, sticky paste called pa`i`ai, then stored air tight in ti leaf bundles and banana sheaths for storage or future trading. By slowly adding water to the pa`i`ai, which was then mixed and kneaded, the perfect poi consistency was created. 4) Poi was traditionally enjoyed with fresh fish, seaweed, breadfruit and sweet potato -- an incredibly tasty and nutritious meal. And when it came to eating poi -- fingers were the utensil of choice. One, two, or three fingers to scoop out the pudding -- two finger poi was considered the best! And many Hawaiians loved their poi fermented a bit, giving it a unique, slightly sour taste.
  • The bowl of poi was considered so important and sacred a part of daily Hawaiian life that whenever a bowl of poi was uncovered at the family dinner table, it was believed that the spirit of Haloa, the ancestor of the Hawaiian people, was present. Because of that, all conflict among family members had to come to an immediate halt.
  • Poi is also a common term for a variety of other things, including fire poi for dancingJakarta POI for Apache, and P.O.I. (GPS Point of Interest).

Here is the USDA's nutritional makeup of Poi.

NDB No:     11349

Nutrient Units Value per
100 grams of
edible portion
Sample
Count

Proximates

Water

g

71.64

2

Energy

kcal

112

0

Energy

kj

469

0

Protein

g

0.38

2

Total lipid (fat)

g

0.14

1

Carbohydrate, by difference

g

27.23

0

Fiber, total dietary

g

0.4

0

Ash

g

0.61

1

Minerals

Calcium, Ca

mg

16

1

Iron, Fe

mg

0.88

1

Magnesium, Mg

mg

24

1

Phosphorus, P

mg

39

1

Potassium, K

mg

183

2

Sodium, Na

mg

12

2

Zinc, Zn

mg

0.22

0

Copper, Cu

mg

0.166

0

Manganese, Mn

mg

0.370

0

Selenium, Se

mcg

0.7

0

Vitamins

Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid

mg

4.0

0

Thiamin

mg

0.130

0

Riboflavin

mg

0.040

0

Niacin

mg

1.100

0

Pantothenic acid

mg

0.293

0

Vitamin B-6

mg

0.273

0

Folate, total

mcg

21

0

Folic acid

mcg

0

0

Folate, food

mcg

21

0

Folate, DFE

mcg_DFE

21

0

Vitamin B-12

mcg

0.00

0

Vitamin A, IU

IU

20

0

Vitamin A, RE

mcg_RE

2

0

Vitamin E

mg_ATE

0.180

0

Lipids

Fatty acids, total saturated

g

0.029

0

4:0

g

0.000

0

6:0

g

0.000

0

8:0

g

0.000

0

10:0

g

0.000

0

12:0

g

0.000

0

14:0

g

0.000

0

16:0

g

0.025

0

18:0

g

0.004

0

Fatty acids, total monounsaturated

g

0.011

0

16:1 undifferentiated

g

0.000

0

18:1 undifferentiated

g

0.011

0

20:1

g

0.000

0

22:1 undifferentiated

g

0.000

0

Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated

g

0.058

0

18:2 undifferentiated

g

0.040

0

18:3 undifferentiated

g

0.018

0

18:4

g

0.000

0

20:4 undifferentiated

g

0.000

0

20:5 n-3

g

0.000

0

22:5 n-3

g

0.000

0

22:6 n-3

g

0.000

0

Cholesterol

mg

0

0

USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 14 (July 2001)

Information on Taro

 


Copyright 1998-2009 by Craig W Walsh

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Comments

John
06 Jul 2007, 15:58
Great article
Liz
16 Sep 2007, 07:07
Where can poi be purchased in the U.S.?
Craig Walsh
16 Sep 2007, 07:25
Aloha, Liz ---

There's another article on this website with poi purchase information. Just go to:

http://www.poico.com/artman/publish/article_20.php
slixc
06 Nov 2007, 13:38
r u supid...go to hawaii and get some poi!! thats were i go 4 times a year to get some...
Jeff Heaton
13 Dec 2007, 00:56
Does a person who wants to make poi need to add a culture such as when adding culture to yogurt? Or does the poi tend to ferment on its own? Should the poi be stored at a certain temperature to encourage the poi to ferment.
If a culture needs to be added than what kind of culture would it be. Could I use the same culture that is added to yogurt. And would I ferment it at the same temperature.
Also to make poi should I use the smaller rounder taro roots that easily become very soft when boiling or baking. Or can I use the much larger bulky taro roots that take longer to cook and are harder to make into a pudding like food.
Craig Walsh
06 Jan 2008, 14:11
Because poi is not made in an absolutely sterile environment, the bacteria that cause natural fermentation are there already. The cleaner the manufacturing facility, the slower the fermentation process. The fermentation bacteria is not harmful - and is thought by many to be beneficial.

Poi is an acquired taste. And fermented (so-called "day old") poi is definitely an acquired taste. While I can eat sour poi, I definitely prefer fresh poi (and have been known to add a little sugar or Equal).

Making poi is a challenge. The best taro corms are grown in a lo`i (running fresh water, like a rice paddy). Taro that's been grown dry-land style does not make wonderful poi.

The size of the corm is less important that the strain of taro and the manner of cultivation. If you buy larger corms, cut them into smaller cubes before cooking. Be sure to wear gloves when handling the flesh of raw taro!
Michelle
10 Feb 2008, 23:59
poi is not the jewish expression...OY! is lol!
Craig Walsh
11 Feb 2008, 11:00
Aloha, Michelle ---

Guess the answer isn't (3) then! :-)
Hoku
04 Mar 2008, 16:59
i like the article very much! Making poi from other places makes the taste very different, but i prefer making my poi on the hawaiian islands. There are some poi around the other islands besides the hawaiian islands. There are some in other polynesian islands, micronesia, and other islands.
Doris
08 Apr 2008, 10:02
I am planning a Lauau and would like some recepies for Poi. Could someone please send me some and also some for main dishes. Thank you all that reply.
Dorothy
12 Apr 2008, 22:27
If you receive any recipes and know where to buy Poi, please let me know.

Many thanks,

Dorothy
Craig Walsh
16 Apr 2008, 17:25
Doris and Dorothy ---

Huh?

There are suggestions on how to make poi, and many recipes for goodies to be made with poi, right here on this website. Try the "Poi Recipes" link on the left-hand side of this page.

Otherwise, this is purely an informational website. We don't sell anything here (not since 2002) so there is nobody here, at least, to send anything out in the mail. Sorry.
ezekiel
18 Nov 2008, 09:11
Need info on Hawaiian culture. e-mail is zacodie@googlemail.com
AA
30 Jan 2009, 20:07
It is kind of sad that someone asked where in the US someone can get poi, given that Hawai'i has been part of the US for more than a century.
sydney
14 Mar 2009, 21:01
Where can u buy poi in California because I really want try it and learn how to make it.
Craig Walsh
14 Mar 2009, 21:04
Hi Sydney ---

There's a whole "Where can I buy poi?" page on this website:

http://www.poico.com/artman/publish/article_20.php

I hope it's helpful. If you are successful, can you please come back to this site and let us all know where you found the poi?

Mahalo

Craig
Kween
30 Sep 2009, 05:19
to AA- I'm not sure where you got your information (or maybe you're part of our wonderful public school education) but Hawaii is just now approaching it's 50th statehood anniversary. 50 years does not a century make :) I live in Hawaii and have met a lot of people here that were alive when Hawaii became a state.
Jason
19 Oct 2009, 05:39
To Kween -

You're absolutely right about statehood, but Hawai'i has been part of the US since the 1890's, when the Queen was unjustly deposed in favor of the usurpers, and made a colony of the United States.
TikiGeek
07 Dec 2009, 06:54
Jason:
And not legally a state at that.
http://www.freehawaii.info for info.
Brian Williams
03 Mar 2010, 09:23
poi is so disgusting im sorry to say it is a bland and tastless piece of waste i hated it as a kid and wish i never had to eat it...
christopher
07 May 2010, 16:40
To me poi taste like grits without sugar
Sue
26 Jun 2010, 12:44
I want to surprise my soon to be husband, who is Polynesian, with a traditional polynesian dinner. Thank you for all your great Idea's and suggestions. first on the list is his favorite Sweet bread ( made with Poi )... Thanx a bunch
Dianne
03 May 2012, 17:06
I am looking for Weight Watcher Points-plus for Poi.
Ibbie
21 Jul 2012, 02:12
Great comments and I am going to try this POI and get back to you guys later. If it does taste like grits then I should be able to handle it. In my country Puerto Rico we have corn meal, cornstarch meals, and the ever so good....oatmeal. So if it's like any of those I should like it. Aloha! people.
Ziona Huntsman
02 Oct 2012, 14:51
I went to the Asian store in Nashville and bought some taro root. I cleaned em and steamed em and put it in the food processor and then strained it. It's wonderful. I missed poi that much that I had to fix it myself. The best thing for me cause of my intestinal problems. It's been a healing source for me.
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