Sweet potatoes taste like dessert and provide the body with a variety of health benefits, so why wait until Thanksgiving to enjoy them? Available year around, inexpensive and versatile, bring sweet potatoes home more often and give some of these cooking and serving suggestions a try.
How to Buy
Look for sweet potatoes that are very firm and have no soft spots, wrinkling or spotting. Sometimes labeled as ‘yams’, the orange-fleshed spuds vary greatly in size, but that has nothing to do with flavor. Choose a size that works best for the recipe – like small for frying, medium for baking and large for cubing and boiling.
How to Store
We grow sweet potatoes here in our southern gardens, and traditionally once the sweet potatoes are harvested and allowed to dry for a few days, we place them in open boxes and store in a cool, dry place like a basement. Weekly inspection and rotating keep a crop of sweet potatoes fresh and feeding the family all winter. For storing smaller amounts of spuds, just be sure to keep them out of the refrigerator. The cold temperature of a refrigerator will cause the natural sugars to convert to starch, and your sweet potatoes won’t be very sweet. Store bought sweet potatoes will last for about three weeks when stored in a cool, dry place.
Baked Sweet Potato Ideas
Bake and serve a sweet potato the same way you would a russet potato. A baked sweet potato can go topless with just a pat of butter and dash of salt and pepper, or you can fully cover the top sour cream, bacon, cheese and chives. To increase the health benefit component of orange-flesh spuds, top with steamed broccoli and low fat cheese.
Smashed or Sautéed
Anything a russet, Irish or Yukon Gold potato can do, a sweet potato can do. Peel, cube, boil and smash them for a savory side dish. Add butter, milk, a dash a cinnamon, salt and pepper and you may have just created a new family favorite.
Peel, cube and sauté in olive oil, then add a favorite green and diced onion for a healthy side dish or try them sliced thin and fried a little butter.
The nutritional value of sweet potatoes reads like a multi-vitamin list: Rich in vitamins A, C, B6, B5 and B3, beta-carotene, potassium, fiber, manganese, tryptophan and copper. A powerful anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and helpful in maintaining a stable blood sugar level.