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Sep 14, 2011 09:43 PM

Foods that need to be cooked before eating

A recent posting on water caltrops made me think of this. What non-meat food stuffs are there that have to be cooked before they can be eaten. Not just stuff that is traditionally cooked, but things that can make you sick if not cooked properly.

I don't know of many common ingredients in Western cooking, but I've encountered this a couple of times with Asian ingredients (it's a good thing I google stuff before cooking), and it would be useful to have an international list.

The ones I know are

Fresh bamboo shoots; needs to be well cooked or is very bitter. I'm not sure if it will actually make you sick.

Water caltrops; need to be cooked to kill a common parasite.

Taro; both leaves and roots must be cooked to break down a toxic chemical.

Mountain Papaya (different than the usual tropical papaya); must be cooked to break down a chemical that irritates the mouth and throad.

Any others? And the reason why it has to be cooked.

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  1. Nettles, also called stinging nettles, which are totally painfull to touch, but once you steam/boil them they are so mild spinach...they grow wild all over most of BC, so they're free..and they have lots of vitamens. I always cook up a couple of batches when they are young. A great tonic after winter stews.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Luna2372

      I grew up in BC and had no idea you could eat those things! Accidentally walked into them many times, but had no idea you could eat them.

      1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

        Nettles are incredibly popular among the Scots and other European populations.

        As for things which should be cooked, I'll propose fiddleheads, as eating them raw will result in intestinal distress of the explosive kind.

        1. re: wattacetti

          Okra, or else they'll taste like crap

          1. re: ricoboxing

            i disagree. Fresh tender okra are good raw.

    2. It is my understanding that MOST mushrooms should be cooked before eaten. White button mushrooms are actually the exception to this rule. I don't have any idea what the resulting toxicity is (if any) and it probably differs between mushrooms.

      1 Reply
      1. re: centralpadiner

        Wow, never heard that. I've always eaten mushrooms raw without problem...hmmm....

      2. Callaloo (or maybe it is spelled Kallaloo, I have seen it both ways) It a green used in Caribbean soups, sort of resembles collard greens with a similar texture.

        I can't remember exact why it needs to be cooked but I think it is something that can cause severe throat problems.

        1. Cassava is highly toxic unless properly cooked to prevent cyanide poisoning. Raw cashews also contain a highly irritating agent that must be cooked out. Similarly there are a number of foods, such as acorns, which are highly tannic and must be processed to get rid of the bitterness.

          3 Replies
          1. re: JungMann

            Hmmm, I buy raw cashews for Mr Pine nearly every week. Are they treated somehow?

            1. re: pine time

              All shelled cashews are cooked to some extent if just to remove the shell which contains the bulk of the toxin.

              1. re: pine time

                Don't think the cashews themselves contain the toxins, but the shells are highly toxic. And cashews need to be washed/treated be remove an residue.

                And what about spinach? While it can be eaten raw, believe heating/cooking it does something to its nutrients, that allows the body to absorb it.
                Body cannot break down and absorb the nutrients in raw spinach

            2. Plantains must be cooked otherwise they are about the consistency of a raw potato. VERY ripe Plantains can be eaten like a banana though.

              1 Reply
              1. re: PotatoHouse

                My mother loves raw, ripe plantains and can't understand why I don't.