Chinese Water Chestnut

Eleocharis dulcus (Burm.) Trin. ex Hensch.

Edible Uses

Flour, Salt.

Corm - raw or cooked. A delicious taste, it is sweet and crisp when fully ripe and is starchy before that. Widely used in Chinese cooking, especially in chop suey. A flour or starch can be made from the dried and ground up corm and this is used to thicken sauces and to give a crisp coating to various deep-fried foods. The root is about 4cm in diameter, it contains about 36% starch. A nutritional analysis is available. The plant is used for making salt in Zimbabwe. No more details.The fresh corms can be peeled and eaten like a fresh fruit. The sweet, crisp nutty flavour resembles coconut, apple and some say macadamia nuts. Even if cooked, the chestnuts have the ability to remain crisp, which has been a feature highly favoured, for the texture effect of Chinese dishes. The sweet nutty flavour is popular with children. In fact, the plant is an ideal one to encourage the children to plant and watch grow and produce a treat.Chinese Water Chestnuts are a common ingredient in Chinese and Japanese dishes. They have a delightful appeal added to any stir-fry type dishes.They can also be added to salads.

Medicinal Uses

In Asia people eat Chinese water chestnut for the prevention of stomach problems, including cancer. The corm is also used to relieve fevers, diarrhoea, indigestion, sore throat, jaundice, diabetes, hypertension to promote urination, strengthen the lungs and stomach for haemorrhoids and mouth ulcers. The plant is used to treat abdominal pain, amenorrhoea, hernia and liver problems. The expressed juice of the tuber is bactericidal.

Harvesting

Chinese water chestnuts are harvested after the stems have turned brown and the corm skins have developed a dark brown colour. If the water can be drained away or pumped out, digging for the crop is simplified. This is where growing in a container will have a definite advantage.

Other Uses

Weaving.

The leaf stems are used for weaving bags etc.

Cultivation details

A plant of marshes and shallow water, it prefers slightly acid soil conditions and a sunny position. Requires a rich fertile soil. Plants are not very frost hardy, the corms should be harvested at the end of the growing season and stored in a cool damp but frost-free position until the spring. It requires a 7 month frost-free growing season in order to produce a crop. Plants perform best at temperatures between 30 - 35°c during the leafy stage of growth, and about 5°c lower when the tubers are being formed.

Propagation

Start corms in a tray of moist sawdust,then when about 8 cm high trans plant a 5 cm under and 20-40 cms apart into a half drum full to about 15 cm from the top with a mixture of manure and soil and enough water to cover soil with about 10 cm water.

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