Can Canna Edulis be used as a Potato Substitute?

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Peeled Canna Edulis

The Canna Edulis can undoubtedly be used as a potato substitute as the rhizomes of the Canna Edulis Plant(Queensland Arrowroot) has a starchy tuber very similar to the common potato. It is straightforward to substitute this root crop into familiar potato recipes.

The Canna Plant had been used as a root crop in many older civilizations for over a hundred years. Many of the Canna plant varieties originated in the Andean region and extended as far as Venezuela to northern Chile in South America.

The wide varieties of different root crops of these older civilizations helped to sustain them.

The plant this post refers to is the Canna Edulis, also known as the Queensland Arrowroot. It has many uses, one of such being a potato substitute.

Who uses the Canna edulis as a potato replacement?

Nowadays, many people who may have only ever grown the Canna Edulis Plant for its ornamental beauty realize that it has many benefits. These include uses as a starch and potato substitute; consequently, more and more back-yard growers are now starting to use it more regularly as a potato replacement

Canna Edulis regrowth
Canna Edulis regrowth in an underutilized corner of the yard

Is it easy to replace potatoes with Canna Edulis Rhizomes?

Yes, whether boiled, roasted, slow-cooked, or mashed, Canna Edulis Rhizomes are easy to replace or swap with regular potato meals.

Learning the different results of the various cooking procedures will allow a competent cook to easily replace the written recipe with substituted Rhizomes. It is just a matter of trial and error, much like any cooking substitution process.

Is it easy to boil Canna Edulis rhizomes?

It is undoubtedly easy to boil the Canna Edulis Rhizomes, substituting them for regular potatoes. As the potato is similar to the Canna Edulis rhizomes when cooking, it is straightforward to swap out some or all of the potato in your meal prep with the Canna Edulis.

One of the most simple swaps is to boil the Rhizomes. See below on how to use peeled or whole un-peeled Canna Edulis.

  1. Peel, Chop, and Boil in salted water for 1/2 an hour until cooked through.
  • Cooking them peeled may make for a more watery end product.
  • Once done, add salt and pepper with a dollop of butter/sour cream or milk.
  1. Scrub the Rhizomes well, and boil the rhizomes whole in salted water.
  • Depending on the size of the tubers, the cooking time will vary.
  • Cooking them whole takes longer as you are also cooking the skins.
  • Once done, peel back the skin and scoop out the cooked flesh.
sliceing canna edulis
Preparation of Canna Edulis before cooking as a potato substitute

How does Mashed Canna Edulis compare to Mashed Potato?

The most notable difference if comparing the two side by side is the Canna Edulis mashed is more “watery” than a regular pile of mashed potato. 

As all mashed potato results depend on the potato’s variety, so does the result of the mashed Canna Edulis Rhizome. If comparing them like for like, they are very similar and can be easily substituted if you use a similar potato type. E.g., waxy potatoes are harder to mash and lend themselves to being lumpy. So too, is the arrowroot after boiling.

Can you roast Canna Edulis Rhizomes?

Yes, as mentioned above, the rhizomes of the Canna Edulis are no different than any potato or hard root vegetable, and roasting them is easy to do. They should be prepared and cooked the same way you generally prepare to roast other vegetables in the oven.

Chopping them up smaller and treating them like rutabaga, turnips, and other more rigid varieties of tuber or potato would result in a more excellent result.

Traditionally they were seasoned and slow-roasted in a ground oven wrapped in leaves to cook over a long period.

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Can you cook Canna Edulis in a slow cooker?

Most hard vegetables can be slow-cooked in a crock pot. The rhizomes of the Canna Edulis are no different than other hard vegetables, and a slow cooker works well to cook down this rhizome into a more tender veg. 

The long slow cook breaks down the fibers allowing for a more enjoyable result.

slowcooker
Canna Edulis cooks well in Slow cookers.

The slow cooking process is not just for the Rhizomes but other parts of this plant. If you want to read more about What Parts of the Canna Edulis Plant are edible, please do.  

Simple meal ideas for Canna Edulis (Queensland Arrowroot)

Over the last few years of using Canna Edulis in our kitchen, it has become easier and easier to include this plant in our daily meals. We have found it an excellent vegetable to help extend our prepared meals. Organic potatoes are a costly grocery item when living here in the tropics, and adding the arrowroot rhizomes into the pantry stores helps a great deal.

Below is a small list of ideas for substituting potatoes with Canna Edulis rhizomes into some everyday meals to get you started.

  1. Boiling and using Canna Edulis mash
    • on cottage pie
    • fish patties
    • simple mash potato
    • added to bread mix
  2. Chopping peeled Canna Edulis into dice-size chunks
    • cooking as potato soup
    • part of meat/veg soup
  3. Chopping into bigger sizes for roasting
    • one veg amongst mixed roast veg
    • potato bake with topping
  4. Peeling and dicing to any size for slow cooking
    • curry
    • stew
    • chili
    • sweet dessert
  5. Sliced pre-boiled Canna Edulis rhizomes for
    • scalloped potatoes toppings
    • potato salad
  6. Cooked, spiced, and dehydrated
    • used in stuffing
    • rehydrate and add to meals to extend
spiced canna edulis
Cooked Spiced Canna Edulis being dehydrated for shelf stability

Conclusion

This post has a few ideas for the Canna Edulis as a substitute for the humble potato.

It does not taste exactly like a potato; only a potato tastes like a potato; however, as a potato substitute, the Canna Edulis (Qld Arrowroot) comes very close, and we will continue to use this plant as a kitchen staple for many years to come.

If you want to read more about how we use Canna Edulis (Queensland Arrowroot), please feel free to type ‘Canna Edulis’ in the search bar at the top of the page. It will give you a view of what we have on our site.

This article was written by Tui Blanch. She is Co-owner of TheTropicalHomestead.com and has well over 20yrs experience in preserving and storing food.