The loroco plant is a perennial vine, native to Central and South America. Its small, unopened flower buds grow in large edible clusters. They produce year-round if provided with sufficient water.
If you’d like to know what loroco blooms taste like, then keep reading. We’ve created an essential guide that looks at their flavor, culinary uses, and much more.
What do loroco buds taste like?
Loroco buds contain tightly packed white flowers that have an earthy, vegetal flavor. People compare them to asparagus, chards, or artichokes. They also have a floral undertone which blends a unique combination of sweet and tangy taste. Loroco blooms have a succulent, crisp texture that is delicious eaten fresh.
Pickled loroco flowers can be purchased in jars. They have much less flavor and aroma than the freshly picked ones; however, they are saltier and tangier thanks to the brine. If you can’t get your hands on fresh ones where you live, search for the frozen bagged buds which provide better flavor.
Loroco buds are sometimes described as having acidic, nutty, woody, or pungent flavor characteristics.
Uses in the kitchen
Loroco flowers are popular in Mexican, Spanish, Caribbean, and Central and South American Cuisines. They are best when cooked for a short time. Steaming, boiling, roasting, or stir-frying are all suitable cooking methods.
One of the most popular uses for the loroco flower is in pupusa, which is hugely popular in El Salvador and Guatemala. Loroco pupusa starts with a thick flatbread made from masa harina. It is stuffed with fillings like cotija cheese, refried beans, pork, chicken, and loroco flower buds.
Another popular use for loroco is as part of practically any egg dish. One of the easiest, most satisfying ways to use the blooms is to fry them with scrambled eggs or omelets. They’re also a great addition to frittatas and quiches.
Some additional tasty ways to use loroco blooms is to mix them into soups, sauces, rice dishes, and stews. Slice them up and sprinkle over pizza or into dobladas or salads. They add an earthy flavor to burritos, tamales, and other Mexican favorites.
Pairs well with: fish, seafood, queso fresco, cotija, mozzarella, poultry, eggs, pasta, squash, and zucchini.
Best seasonings: oregano, chili, cumin, garlic, cilantro, paprika
Substitutes: although there are no close substitutes, some suggest Bok choi blossom or Tatsoi flower.
Fast Facts about the loroco plant
- The loroco plant is part of the Apocynaceae family and is botanically classified as Fernaldia pandurata. It is also called quilite or lorocco.
- It is a tropical or sub-tropical plant that has been used as food for centuries.
- The root is poisonous, and caution should be taken when handling it.
- Loroco buds are exported from south and central American countries to the United States. The buds don’t travel well, so they are mostly pickled, frozen, or bottled for sale.
- Although the loroco plant is grown commercially, they are also commonly found in back yards of many Central American homes.
How to store loroco
Clusters of unopened buds are cut in one bunch from the vine. They are then stored refrigerated in baskets for up to two days. The best storage baskets have ventilation to provide some airflow. If possible, freshly harvested loroco buds should be consumed the same day.
People in most parts of the world won’t have access to fresh buds. If you buy the frozen product, then it should be used within 9 months before quality starts to degrade.
Where to buy
If you live outside of Central or South America, then finding fresh loroco buds will be a challenge. They have a short shelf life so exporting them fresh isn’t common. Instead, visit your local Mexican grocer for jarred, canned, or pickled loroco. You can also search for online retailers who ship it frozen to most parts of the United States.
Loroco blooms are considered a good source of vitamins A, B, and C as well as iron, niacin, and calcium. They are also high in fiber while being low in calories. Some locals revere the loroco plant for its aphrodisiac properties.
Commonly asked questions
Are loroco blooms toxic?
Although the plant is a close relative to other toxic species from the family dogbone, tests have proven that the blooms don’t contain the same cardiac glycosides. However, the root is poisonous so always use caution when handling this plant.
What is a curtido?
A curtido is a fermented Salvadoran coleslaw made from cabbage, carrots, onions, lime juice, and oregano. It is similar to kimchi or sauerkraut and is often served with Loroco pupusa.
The loroco bud doesn’t taste like your average edible flower. Its unique vegetal, earthy flavor tastes more like a vegetable.
Loroco is one of those ingredients that gets described in a variety of ways, depending on who’s eating it. However, most agree that it doesn’t have any offensive aromas or flavors. Instead, it works as a flavorsome addition to Central American cuisine.