Sweet potatoes are neither potatoes nor yams. They belong to the same family as the vine Morning Glory, and contain an enzyme that converts its starches into sugars as the potato matures. This sweetness increases during storage and when cooked. The sweet potato tubers look quite similar to potatoes, but unlike the potato they taper to a point at the ends. Sweet potatoes have smooth skins that are commonly golden-orange, but they can also be white, purple, and red.
Best Storage Practices:
Store sweet potatoes in a cool, dark place with good ventilation (55 to 60 degrees F). Do not store in the refrigerator. When properly cured, sweet potatoes can store for several weeks.
Fun Ways to Eat and Cook:
The skin can be left on if scrubbed well, or can be peeled. Remove the ends. Slice, dice or bake whole, like potatoes. Saute, roast, fry or microwave. Stuff, mash, or add to dishes like soups, pies, or casseroles. In many recipes sweet potatoes can replace potato and pumpkin.
Selecting Sweet Potatoes
Choose firm, smooth sweet potatoes without wrinkles, bruises, sprouts or decay. Even if cut away, a decayed spot may have already caused the whole potato to take on an unpleasant flavor.
Why it's Good to Eat
- A super provider of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A and beta carotene
- Significant amounts of vitamin C and a fair source of vitamin E, which may help prevent heart disease and cancer, bolster the immune system, and even slow the aging process
When it's in Season
Harvested October through January, and available longer with good storage
How it's Harvested
Prefers a climate with long, hot summer months and well-drained soil. Grown from cuttings in nurseries until the seedlings are about 6 inches long, then transplanted into the ground. The parent vine is very vigorous with long stems and broad, oval or arrow-like leaves. It produces underground tubers, which are harvested when the vine has died.
Candied Sweet Potato - Scrub 3 medium sweet potatoes and boil until tender, 12-14 minutes. Drain, peel and cut across into half inch pieces. Add 1/4 cup butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar to a pan. Heat until sugar dissolves. Add sweet potato and cook until well coated. Sprinkle in 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Serve topped with pecans.