Toloma is a root crop. In many countries Toloma and Arrowroot are often referred as the same, however in the Virgin Islands Toloma and Arrowroot grows from two different species of the same plant family. Arrowroot is starchier.
Toloma is an old time staple that could be found in the garden of just about every yard. I visited Mr. Leando Scatliffe at his back yard farm. He grows both arrowroot (nickname here) and toloma along with black eye peas and other greens. He recalled bringing 10 toloma plants from his father’s yard in St. Thomas many many years ago and today he is still reaping the benefits.
Mr. Scatliffe grows the toloma plants in rows and grows about 30-50 plants per crop resulting on average 35-50 lbs of toloma flour (meal) per season. Unlike most root crop, toloma grows out and on top of the ground.
Toloma crops are harvested within 8-9 months. The root plant is peeled, dried in the sun and then grind down to flour consistency. While the processing is now much faster due to the recent purchase of a commercial grinder, Mr. Leando recalls utilising a mortar and pestle and a homemade sifter. He would pound and sift the toloma for hours into midnight. This process will take him many days to get his harvest crop ready for the consumer. Today, the process takes only minutes and the toloma is much finer.
Toloma is a protein and is easily digested. In many Caribbean Islands it is often the go to porridge for babies and adults alike.
Serve hot in a bowl, garnished with a dash of ground cinnamon (optional)
Toloma is also used as a thickening agent in stews and soup, as an alternative to flour. Be creative and use toloma meal in your pastry recipes. Create something new.
Interested in trying toloma, connect with us at Life & Style and we will put you in touch with Mr. Scatliffe.