Sweet Potato Discussion From The Wise Encyclopedia
The sweet potato is a native of tropical America and was known to the
Indians before the time of Columbus. The Spanish explorers took the plant
back to Europe, where it met with immediate success. There are two types of
sweet potato, one with pale yellow flesh which cooks dry and mealy and the
other, often incorrectly called yam, with deeper orange flesh which is much
sweeter and moister. The true yam is an entirely different plant, a native
of Africa. The sweet potato makes a fine substitute for white potatoes,
although it is not related botanically.
Hints On Buying
The two types of sweet potatoes are distinguishable in the market. The dry
yellow potatoes have a yellowish fawn colored skin, while the darker moister
potatoes have a whitish or reddish skin. The varieties vary considerably in
shape and in size, and in their cooking characteristics so that it is not
desirable to buy mixed vaneties. Sweet potatoes are shipped either as the
new crop, or dried and stored for winter use. Either crop is equally good.
The new crop potatoes are likely to have more delicate skins and thus
bruise more easily; sweet potatoes are very susceptible to damage from
bruising and spoil very quickly after an injury is received.
Good quality sweet potatoes are smooth, well shaped and firm; misshapen
potatoes wasteful. Potatoes with decayed spots should be avoided because
the decay gives an unpleasant flavor even to the unaffected parts of the
Some potatoes are difficult to keep under ordinary home conditions. For
this reason, buy only what will be used in a day or two. To keep
satisfactorily, sweet potatoes need a dry storage place with a temperature
between 55 and 60 degrees. Dampness will cause them to spoil readily.
Hints On Preparation
Sweet potatoes should be cooked in their jackets whenever possible. Not
only does this preserve the nutriments just under the skin, but the potato
is much easier to peel than when raw. Also, if sweet potatoes are peeled
before cooking some of the sweetness escapes into the cooking water.
If it is necessary to peel sweet potatoes before cooking, drop the pared
potatoes into cold salted water to keep from darkening. Cook as quickly as
possible. Sweet potatoes are delicious baked in their jackets and served
with salt and pepper and a lump of butter or margarine. Boiled sweet
potatoes may be mashed just like white potatoes. Sometimes the large tubers
contain a certain amount of fibrous stringy material; for this reason it is
best to put the cooked sweet potatoes through the ricer, thus removing the
fiber, rather than mashing with a potato masher.
Cold mashed sweet potatoes may be used as a substitute for pumpkin or
squash in pies and puddings.
To boil sweet potatoes, scrub them thoroughly and place in a kettle of
boiling salted water. Cover the pot and boil until the potatoes are tender.
Drain off the water, dry the potatoes by shaking the pan for a moment over
the stove, and then pull off the skins. The potatoes are now ready for
preparation in many ways.
Mash boiled sweet potatoes, season with salt and pepper and beat in a
little hot milk until the potatoes are smooth and fluffy. For variety,
shape the mashed potatoes into small nests and brown in the oven. For still
further variety, use orange juice in place of milk, and grate a little
orange rind into the potatoes. For a special occasion, try sherry instead
of other liquid.
To bake sweet potatoes, scrub them thoroughly and dry the skins. Bake in a
hot oven (435° F.) until tender, 35 to 60 minutes, depending on the size.
When they are about half done, prick the potatoes several times with a fork
to allow the steam to escape. If you like the skins soft, rub the potatoes
with a little fat before baking them.
From The Wise Encyclopedia of Cookery, 1971.