Enset – Gastro Obscura

Enset – Gastro Obscura

It looks like a banana plant, harvests like a root vegetable, and tastes like flatbread. Though the enset is a technical cousin of the banana, this tree offers a food that is much more potato-like. English-speakers—feeling betrayed by the enset’s misleading appearance—decided to call it “the false banana.” Its vaguely banana-like pods are short, thick, and filled with seeds, but it’s not the fruit that makes enset worth planting.

Unlike plucking bananas, harvesting from the enset requires prying the entire plant from the ground. Its pseudo-stem contains a starchy pith that can be pulped and fermented into a calorie-dense carbohydrate. This can be acquired throughout the year, which provides a buffer against famine when seasonal crops fail.

Once the pith is collected using a bamboo scraper, it gets pulped, combined with yeast, and bundled. The mixture is placed into an enset leaf–lined pit, covered by leaves and rocks, and then left to ferment for up to two years. After a minimum of three months of subterranean fermenting, enset can be used to make a dense, bread-like staple called kocho. Kocho is thought to taste better with age, going from green to white and acquiring a cheese smell as it ripens.

via atlasobscura Enset – Gastro Obscura