Sweet potatoes are as American as apple pie!
Native Americans were growing sweet potatoes well before Columbus arrived. By the 16th century, they were being cultivated in the southern states, where they became a staple in the traditional cuisine.
Some of the following information is from the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission:
Sweet Potatoes are available every month of the year.
Select firm, fairly evenly-shaped potatoes with even skin coloration. Do not purchase if they have white areas or are damaged; this probably means decay. Avoid sweet potatoes with any signs of decay. For the most nutrition value, always select sweet potatoes with a deep orange color.
Storing Sweet Potatoes: If you grow your own, they will be sweeter when allowed to age for a month or so (the very minute they are harvested, sugar starts to form).
DO NOT STORE IN THE REFRIGERATOR. Storing in the fridge will produce a hard core in the center. Instead…Store them in a cool, dry, well ventilated container at approximately 55 degress F. Your basement in the summer or your garage in the winter is best!
Otherwise, for the best flavor and freshness, use your sweet potatoes within a week or two after purchase.
Cutting and Peeling: Always use a stainless steel knife when cutting.
Once cooked, take them from the boiling water and immerse immediately in very cold water. The skins will almost fall off by themselves.
To keep raw potatoes from turning dark when peeling, place them in one quart water mixed with 3 tablespoons lemon juice for a few minutes. Drain well before using.
Cooking: They are more nutritious if cooked in their jackets (skins) and have four times the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (USRDA) for beta-carotene when eaten with the skin on.
Wash and dry thoroughly before cooking.
Cooked sweet potatoes freeze well. Wrap unpeeled cooked potatoes individually in aluminum foil or freezer wrap. Place in plastic freezer bags, label, date, and freeze!
Sweet Potato Equivalents:
1 pound fresh sweet potatoes = 3 medium = 3 1/2 to 4 cups cooked and chopped.
Sweet Potato vs. Yams:
In the United States, most people use both terminologies to refer to a sweet potato. What is marketed in the United States as “yams” are really a variety of sweet potato, grown in the South. A true yam is a starchy edible root of the Dioscorea genus, and is generally imported to America from the Caribbean. Yams contain more natural sugar than sweet potatoes and have a higher moisture content.
Both the sweet potato and the yam are available fresh from October through March.
Sweet Potato Nutrition:
They are virtually fat-free, cholesterol-free and very low in sodium. One cup (200 grams) of cooked sweet potatoes has 180 calories.
Favorite Sweet Potato and Yam Recipes: