The Story of Cassava (Part 2) : Getting the most from Boiled Cassava leaves

Written by @joehairie and @Lan
(Photos by curiostraveller.com)
For Kulafoods Australia

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Thought of the day-“Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden?”-Robert Brault

This article is about a small garden project by Roslee Ladalo and it took us 8 months to have the entire article completed. The article is divided into 3 parts. This is Part 2 of  3. To read Part 1, click HERE.

The 3rd harvest was on April 1, 2017. It was that harvest that produced the biggest cassava and in many quantity. The trees were mature enough and someone asked us to get the leaves as well. This entry is about that cassava leaves, describing ways to get the most from that produce. The focus is the health benefits especially when it comes to consuming the leaves, cooked (and we are going to show the steps in cooking it), of course!

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Health benefits

The cassava leaves are edible but it needs to be boiled first. It’s toxic in its raw state therefore boiling the leaves will neutralized the poison thus making that cassava safe to eat. The way of consuming it varies. While some will eat it just like that (after boiling) similar as salad, some people in different cultures have their own way of cooking it, producing some great recipes. Cassava leaves does have many health benefits.

Cassava leaves are indeed a great source of protein as the vegetable contains vitamin B. Its is extremely important to build body’s cells that will eventually form the enzymes for body’s metabolism. That various proteins and essential amino acids in cassava leaves helps to contribute useful energy for the body, it helps to change carbohydrates into energy, that obviously what the body needs. In regard to cells regeneration, Amino acids are proteins that can help in the growth of damaged cells.

Vitamin C found in cassava leaves is indeed a powerful antioxidant to help prevent cardiovascular disease, strokes, and cancer. Potassium is in cassava leaves as well! It contributes towards water regulation and cardiovascular health. phosphorus and calcium for strong bones, iron and copper for anemia, zinc for a strong immune system, and magnesium and manganese for strong bones and enzyme production. 

Cassava leaves are great for digestive health as well. Cassava leaves will help digestion which will nourish the human colon especially when consumption is constant. Cassava leaves helps in preventing and dispose of free radicals in the body which are related to dangerous diseases such as cancer.

The carbohydrate content of cassava leaves is almost equal to snap beans and soy beans. In every 100 grams of cooked cassava leaves, there’s about 37 calories which means it is great for weight loss. Simply put, it’s fat free. Cassava leaves also contain a good amount of fiber that promotes the growth of probiotic bacteria and thus boosts immunity. 

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Properly boiled cassava leaves

Taste/Flavor

Boiled cassava leaves don’t have that much flavor but if not being carefully prepared, it’s a bit bitter. Properly boiled cassava leaves will absorb anything with flavors add to it (while consuming) and not just it’s healthy, it’s yum as well. There are so many ways in cooking or preparing cassava leaves for consumption purpose. This entry will be focusing on the Malaysians/Nusantara way in dealing with cassava leaves.

Boiling Process

First, the leaves needs to be washed under running water. This is to ensure the cleanliness of the leaves, making it free from any unnecessary elements such as dirt from the soil. After the cleaning process, comes the boiling part.

Use a suitable pot that has adequate space for both water and cassava leaves. Do not cover the pot during the boiling process, if you do, the cassava leaves will change color to dark brownish or worst dark! Having the pot remain open will release the acidity in it.

Add some salt into that boiling water. Alternatively before boiling and after washing it, combine leaves into ball shapes (in small sizes). Apply generous amount of salt on that cassava leaves, squeezing the balls tightly so that the salt goes right into em’.

To make the cassava leaves soft enough, there’s a trick. Put spoon or fork into the pot (while boiling the cassava). The use of such utensil will help in increasing the water temperature and that will further soften the cassava leaves.

When it’s soft enough, get that leaves out from the pot, after cooling it, squeeze all the remaining liquid in it. Some people wash it again to get rid of all that salty taste.

Eating Cassava Leaves with Sambal Belacan

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Sambal Belacan

The properly boiled cassava leaves can be consumed straight away and Malaysians love to have it with Sambal Belacan that is made of Shrimp Paste. That is the healthiest way to eat it. To learn more about Sambal Belacan, click HERE. Dip some cassava leaves into the sambal and eat it right away. While cassava leaves can be cooked in many ways such as ‘Masak Lemak‘ (that use Santan/Coconut Milk), most prefer eating boiled leaves.

Reference(s)/Reading List

Adam MR dan Moss MO (2000). Food Microbiology. 2nd ed. The Royal Society of Chemistry, United Kingdom.

Adamafio, Sakyiamah M, and Josephyne T (2010). Fermentation in cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) pulp juice improves nutritive value of cassava peel. Academic Journals 4(3): 51-56

Atmojo, S.W. (2006). Peranan Bahan Organik terhadap Kesuburan Tanah dan Upaya Pengelolaannya. Sebelas Maret University Press. Surakarta

Awoyinka, A. F.; Abegunde, V. O.; Adewusi (1995), S. R. A. Nutrient content of young cassava leaves. Plant Foods Hum. Nutri., Dordrecht, v. 47, n. 1, p. 21-28.

Commission on Sustainable Development (2001). Indicators of Sustainable Development: Guidelines and Methodologies. Second Edition. UN, NY, September 2001

Daly, H.E. (1990). Toward Some Operational Principles of Sustainable Development. Ecological Economics 2: 1-6

Eggum, R.O. (1970). The protein quality of cassava leaves. Br. J. Nutr. 24:761-768.

Foresight UK (2011). The future of food and farming: Challenges and choices for global sustainability. Government Office for Science, Foresight, Final Project Report.

Kanagasabai, S (2010). Textbook on Environmental Studies. PHI Learning Private Limited. New Dehli.

Lancaster, P.A. and J.E. Brooks (1983). Cassava leaves as human food. Econ. Bot. 37:331-348.

Love, C., Carroll, P., and Prior, J. 2010. Building Social Capital to Achieve Sustainable Farm Practices, Section 3, In Jennings, J., Woodside, D., and Packham, R. (eds) Enabling the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources and Agricultural Production: The Role of Extension, Australia Pacific Extension Network, Brisbane

Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (2015). Cassava Handbook. Department of International Cooperation. Khan Chamkarmon, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Ravidran, V., Kornegay, E.T. and Cherry, J.A. (1983). Feeding values of cassava . Nutrition Reports International 28:189-196.

Seymour, John (2002). The New Complete book of Self-Sufficiency. Dorling Kindersely: London.

Soepardi, G. (1983). Sifat dan Ciri Tanah. IPB, Bogor

Supanjani (2012). Teknik Budidaya Singkong oleh Petani. Agrin Vol. 16, No. 2.

Wargiono, J (1979). Ubi kayu dan Cara Bercocok Tanam. Buletin Teknik No.4. 36p. Bogor: Lembaga Pusat Penelitian Pertanian Bogor.

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