Sweet Potato ~ Ipomoena batates
Sweet potatoes are one of the oldest cultivated crops. They are also one of the few that originated in the New World. Wild sweet potatoes have been traced back to Peru, having grown since approximately 10,000 years ago.
Edible Parts: Starchy root
Nutrition: Sweet potatoes are very high in nutrients, containing large amount of vitamins A & C, as well as vegetable carbohydrates and fiber. They also contain moderate amounts of beta carotene, calcium, and iron.
Processing & Storage: Sweet potatoes are excellent keepers, and if stored in a cool, dry place, they can last for several weeks.
DO NOT refrigerate or store in plastic. Refrigeration can result in flavor changes, and plastic traps moisture, which can cause rotting or sprouting. Allow sweet potatoes plenty of ventilation. Storing in a dark, cool place in a paper bag is ideal.
If damaged or cut, sweet potatoes can form a ‘skin’ over the damaged area that prevents rotting. However, it is advisable to use these potatoes soonest. Simply cut away the damaged areas in preparation for cooking.
Cooking: To prepare sweet potatoes, scrub the skin clean and cut away any damaged areas.
Sweet potatoes are good steamed and baked, but are especially delicious in Linda McDonough’s sweet potato casserole recipie (see recipe below).
For baking, cut in half larger sweet potatoes, leaving smaller sweet potatoes whole, and place into a pan in the oven at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, until fork tender. Remove, split, and mash butter inside.
Sweet potatoes are also a good veggie for kids- after cooking, cut in half across the width of the potato. The flesh of the potato can then be squeezed out of the skin like a push-pop, making for a fun, sweet, healthy treat.