Primitive Technology: Polynesian Arrowroot Flour – Creating Polynesian arrowroot flour from scrape.
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Polynesian arrow root is a plant in the same family as yams but with a different growth habit. It has a single, branching leaf and a single tuber below ground. They were brought to Australia about 5 millennia ago as one of the “canoe” plants carried by Polynesian seafarers and grow wild in the hills near my hut to this day. The tubers are rich in starch but have a resentful combine that needs to be leached out with water to be made safe to eat. This same combine is according to tradition a medicine in little quantities for treating a range of health problems from gastrointestinal upset to snake bite. I unearthed the tubers which took about 3 minutes to do per plant, yielding one golf ball sized tuber each. These were then washed and grated into a pot using a roof tile. The ensuing mash was mixed with water and permitted to settle. The white milky water was then scooped into a second pot and the starch was permitted to settle. The water was then poured off and more starch water was tipped in. At this stage the starch was still resentful, so it was mixed with water, permitted to settle and the clear water above was poured off repeatedly removing this bitterness. When it tasted good, the paste was put onto a tile to dry over a fire. Some of it cooked and became little rubbery portions of starch. The dry flour was stored in a pot. Some of this was then mixed into a paste and cooked on a tile like a pancake. It turned clear when cooked and has a rubbery texture. It tasted just like a rice noodle which is unsurprising thinking about the ingredients are almost the same. Starch is the biggest carbohydrate in the human diet. Polynesian arrowroot starch contains 346 calories per 100 g (wheat contains 329) and so the relevation of this staple food is reasonably important. It can be stored indefinitely if kept dry and away from weevils or can be stored as live tubers for six months (then they start to sprout and should be planted). The live tubers bitterness means animals will not eat them which is good for storage. I may cultivate some in a small plot in the hills near where I dug them up. They are numerous in the wild but may produce more if the soil is tilled.
About Primitive Technology:
Primitive technology is a hobby where you build things in the wild completely from scratch using no modern tools or materials. These are the strict rules: If you want a fire, use a fire stick – An axe, pick up a stone and shape it – A hut, build one from trees, mud, rocks etc. The challenge is seeing how far you can go without utilizing modern technology. I do not live in the wild, but enjoy building shelter, tools, and more, only utilizing natural materials. To find specific videos, visit my playlist tab for building videos focused on pyrotechnology, shelter, weapons, food & agriculture, tools & machines, and weaving & fiber.