Veg of the month - Sweet Potato

Introduction

Sweet Potatoes have a low GI rating (glycaemic index) and are a good source of vitamin A, B6, C and potassium. Unlike regular potatoes they count towards one of your 5 a day (or is it 10 a day now?)

Vegetable Origins & Varieties  

Sweet potato; Ipomoea batatas (L.) Poir. Family: Convolvulacene.

There are very many varieties of sweet potato worldwide, they fall into three main groups – dry and mealy-fleshed - soft and moist-fleshed and coarse-fleshed (used as animal feed).  They are related to the morning glory and distantly to bindweed. We grow the soft and moist-fleshed types.  Sweet potatoes arrived in Europe before the standard white potato; in Elizabethan times they were called ‘common potato’. As with many of our vegetables these were domesticated by the pre-Inca civilizations of South America. It’s a ‘staple’ crop of Polynesia, Captain Cook and Joseph Banks found the Maoris growing them when they landed in 1769.

Growing tips & Harvesting

Sweet potatoes thrive in a tropical or sub-tropical climate so here in the Skip garden we grow them in the 12m polytunnel up strings on the inner warm wall although if you’ve the room they’re quite happy growing along the ground. We make a potash rich soil mix and give then plenty of water.

In 2016 we had a good crop from the variety ‘Beauregard’ so now we’re trying three more varieties (along with ‘Beauregard’) ‘Carolina Ruby’, T65 and the new ‘Purple Molokai’.  We’ll plant their cuttings or slips in May/June for a harvest in September.

Storing & Preparation

To successfully store sweet potatoes they must be ‘cured’ by keeping them for a week at 25 degrees C – then they are happy to be kept in storage in temperatures as low as 14 degrees C.
They can be baked in a moderate oven for 45-60 minutes, peeled cubed and boiled for 12 minutes or made in wedges/chips/fries and baked or fried.

My favourite Recipes

Our general consensus was to simply bake and eat as a regular potato! However who doesn't like a healthy brownie:

Flourless Sweet Potato Brownies
Serves 6

Ingredients
1 cup mashed sweet potato
1/2 cup nut butter
1/4- 2/3 cup cocoa powder
Frosting of choice (recommended)

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and grease a 4 x 6 or 6 x 6 loaf pan. Blend or process all ingredients. Transfer brownie batter to the loaf pan and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow the brownies to cool in the pan completely before frosting and or slicing into brownie bars.

Final words

Sweet potatoes cooked and mashed are a great starchy food to start babies on when transitioning to solid foods. They are great in coconut curries and stews to add a slightly sweet flavour.