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Article: Getting To The Root Of Things. The Sweet Potato: Its History, Uses, and Culture: Love those Sweet Potatoes!

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Forum: Article: Getting To The Root Of Things. The Sweet Potato: Its History, Uses, and CultureReplies: 40, Views: 279
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cathy4
St. Louis County, MO
(Zone 5a)

January 11, 2008
3:12 PM

Post #4387072

Great information. We, too, eat them year round. I poke a few holes in the skins and put them in the microwave for a few minutes until they begin to get soft. I like mine plain, DH uses butter and sugar. Great with pork or poultry and so much more interesting to eat than a plain potato.
Dutchlady1
Naples, FL
(Zone 10a)

January 11, 2008
3:49 PM

Post #4387256

Thanks for the wonderful article. I LOVE LOVE LOVE sweet potatoes and have a wonderful recipe with cardamom and ginger that I make for holiday side dish (or whenever I feel like it). A local fish restaurant has sweet potato french fries which I am always sure to order when we go there.

frostweed

frostweed
Josephine, Arlington, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 11, 2008
4:10 PM

Post #4387349

I can make a great meal out of a nice baked sweet potato all by itself, I love them.

carrielamont

carrielamont
Bedford, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 11, 2008
4:37 PM

Post #4387452

And it's probably a very healthy meal, too! My husband was amazed to find that he likes sweet potato french fries, since he doesn't like any 'winter' vegetables.

I was wondering if there's a difference between sweet potato and yam, and if there is, what is it?

Oh, and feed babies sweet potatoes (along with winter squash and pumpkins)! Easy to mash or mush (or buy a can ready-mashed, just make sure it doesn't have anything in it but the sweet potato), and start feeding with high chair and baby spoon. Easier than mashed potatoes and zillions of times better for them!

xx, Carrie
AYankeeCat
Fairfield County, CT
(Zone 6b)

January 11, 2008
4:46 PM

Post #4387498

I love sweet potatoes! I had no idea they were so high in potassium. Good information - thank you!

melody

melody
Benton, KY
(Zone 7a)


January 11, 2008
5:54 PM

Post #4387805

Sweet potatoes and yams are two totally unrelated plants. Yams are African in origin and can weigh 10 pounds or more. They are mainly used for livestock food. The names have become synonymous in popular usage, but as a rule, everything we actually eat are sweet potatoes.

Thanks for the response to the article. I love sweet potatoes and take every available opportunity to show folks they don't have to melt marshmallows on them to be a proper dish.

AYankeeCat
Fairfield County, CT
(Zone 6b)

January 11, 2008
6:01 PM

Post #4387849

My girlfriend and I cook ourselves a big, homemade Thanksgiving each year and we have only one rule - NO marshmellows on the sweet potatoes!

carrielamont

carrielamont
Bedford, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 11, 2008
6:16 PM

Post #4387919

Wait - so if we go to the grocery store, and there are two different piles of brown lumpy things, one labeled sweet potatoes and the other labeled yams????????
x, Carrie
Indy
Alexandria, IN
(Zone 6a)

January 11, 2008
6:27 PM

Post #4387954

I have raised sweetpotatoes for many years. Contrary to some opinion, they grow very well here north of the Ohio River.

I remember the folks carrying out the tub of sweetpotato starts back in the '40s. We raise Nancy Hall then. Today I raise Nancy Hall [yellow], O'Henry [yellow], and Beauregard [orange]...love those yellows.

frostweed

frostweed
Josephine, Arlington, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 11, 2008
6:32 PM

Post #4387972

I have never eaten the yellow ones, do they taste different?
Indy
Alexandria, IN
(Zone 6a)

January 11, 2008
8:49 PM

Post #4388463

"do they taste different?"

Somewhat, but texture is probably the main difference...less soft and mushy.
stellamarina
Laie, HI

January 11, 2008
9:14 PM

Post #4388600

Here in Hawaii we can get the Southern "yams" ( really the orange flesh sweet potato) then we also get the Polynesian type which have pale yellow flesh and then the most popular one seems to be the Okinawan sweet potato which is very purple inside with a white skin. Also we stir fry the new leaf tips which are very tasty and nutritional. One of my favorite foods. Usually we just boil it like potatos to go with our meat and veges. Great article, thank you. Aloha

adinamiti

adinamiti
Balotesti
Romania

January 11, 2008
9:15 PM

Post #4388606

Congratulations for the article, Melody!
Adina

melody

melody
Benton, KY
(Zone 7a)


January 11, 2008
9:25 PM

Post #4388640

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yam_(vegetable)

Here's what Wikipedia says about yams.

carrielamont

carrielamont
Bedford, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 11, 2008
10:01 PM

Post #4388824

Thank you Melody, I always assumed there WAS a difference and I was the only one who didn't know it. It sounds like there IS a difference, but not between the two piles at my grocery store. xxx, Carrie
randbponder
Hornick, IA
(Zone 4b)

January 11, 2008
11:30 PM

Post #4389126

You aren't pulling anything over this Northern boy. I usually have at least a couple dozen hills of S/Ps, so we have enough to carry through untill the new crop is ready. We have been starting our own slips from the centennial S/P. But usually run short by that time. This year I plan to add Vardaman, Beauregard and Georgia Jet to the Garden.
That will more than double the usual crop. The reason for trying a few others, I want to see if the Vardaman will actually save space. My brother likes the Georgia Jet and also has good luck with them. He also is also in zone 4. I thought I would see if one will out do the other and which will have the most uniform roots (commonly called tubers)
This last fall I had a quite a few that were twisted around themselves. This will help me decide which to go with.
Russ
doccat5
Fredericksburg, VA
(Zone 7b)

January 11, 2008
11:49 PM

Post #4389190

Love both sweet taters and yams...good eatin. And I'll get some slips off one of the local growers. Have no idea what variety they are, but he's grown them for years and they are wonderful.
Islandshari
Kwajalein
Marshall Islands
(Zone 11)

January 12, 2008
12:44 AM

Post #4389349

Melody, that was a great article. I too get frustrated at the Holidays Only attitude about this delicious food. One of our favorite ways to eat them is as chips. If we are planning a movie night, I will fry some up and we much on them all movie. Soooooo Yummy! Thanks for spreading the word about the nutrition and easy flavor of this most humble taste treat.

Yokwe,
Shari
KyWoods
Melbourne, KY
(Zone 6a)

January 12, 2008
5:00 AM

Post #4390454

Wow, I never knew they could be eaten with butter and salt--I thought the whole idea behind "sweet" potatoes was drowning them in sweet stuff...LOL. Thanks for a very educational article, and a new idea to try!
leliaforeman
butare
Rwanda

January 14, 2008
5:04 PM

Post #4400714

I love firm, tasty sweet potatoes and dislike watery, less flavorful yams.
While I was in Rwanda I kept asking for sweet potatoes which seem to be held in some contempt there as everyone wants to eat what they call Irish potatoes. I was finally given some, but they were white sweet potatoes with a somewhat diminished sweet potato taste.
I told the people we were staying with that in America the sweet potatoes were deep orange which surprised them.
I would like to try the Okinawan sweet potato.
I wish I knew a way to get virus-free orange-fleshed sweet potato seeds. I'm just back from a two week trip to Rwanda I hope to repeat every year. I gave Pastor David Nahayo of Butare Christian Mission some virus free 'Irish' potato seeds I bought from ECHO, but I don't know where to get clean seeds of sweet potatoes.
I had so much fun in Rwanda. I got a kick out of pulling purslane out of the gardens and eating it in front of the Rwandese while exclaiming that it was more than a weed, it was good food! No, try it, you'll see. One of the university researchers had an epiphany there. "We have people starving that don't need to because they are surrounded by food. They just don't know it's food!" She later screamed with fear when I ate a nasturtium, but after I insisted she eat a leaf too (I had to chase her down) she agreed it wasn't too bad. By the time we got to the daylily with a different researcher she was quite willing to try the sweet blossom. I had to shame the man into trying the petal I gave him. And she taught me the leaves of a flower I grow in my Washington state garden were good for tea. When they come up this spring I will try it.
I wish there were a database somewhere I could tap into that said which crops have been tried in Rwanda that were complete failures so that I wouldn't be reinventing the wheel by bringing in different seeds to experiment to see what will grow and what will be acceptable to the Rwandan palate. David Nahayo had been stunned to find out you can eat amaranth seeds. He said his people eat leaves, not seeds. So I'm trying to have him grow a variety of seeds that can be thrown into their daily potage without changing anything else they do. I know first hand how hard it can be to change what you eat, let alone changing cooking techniques.
So... anybody here know where I can get virus free sweet potato seeds?
Oh, and if any of you would like to join in the fun, look up http://www.comeandseeafrica.org.
KyWoods
Melbourne, KY
(Zone 6a)

January 14, 2008
5:13 PM

Post #4400759

How wonderful, Lelia, that you taught them about more food options! I hope you can find many new plants that can be grown there successfully. I'm sure those people will be very grateful.
Indy
Alexandria, IN
(Zone 6a)

January 14, 2008
7:18 PM

Post #4401294

Quoting:I wish I knew a way to get virus-free orange-fleshed sweet potato seeds.


I don't think you will find any seeds. They will need to be started from tubers...over there if you want to get them started there...don't know about air and import regulations.
Fitsy
Hayesville, NC
(Zone 7a)

January 14, 2008
7:19 PM

Post #4401297

I wish they were cheap here! More like 99 cents per
pound. But I grow my own.

Oregon friends have a favorite white sweet potato, but
it must be different from the one mentioned above.

Getting my son to sample a daylily petal went like this:
I hand him a petal, and he says, "A bug bit it!"
So I hand him a flawless petal, and he says "Bug won't
eat it, I ain't eating it!"
Fitsy






Indy
Alexandria, IN
(Zone 6a)

January 14, 2008
7:54 PM

Post #4401462

fitsy,
I have a white sweetpotato that is an excellent grower of such smooth tubers [Ivis I think] , but it tastes almost exactly like a white Irish potato...not enough flavor for sweets.
KyWoods
Melbourne, KY
(Zone 6a)

January 14, 2008
9:05 PM

Post #4401798

ROFL, Fitsy! Kid logic is funny stuff!
stellamarina
Laie, HI

January 14, 2008
10:43 PM

Post #4402180

Lelia, you are a woman after my own heart. I am always preaching the enjoyment of free wild food and there in Rewanda it is a matter of life and death. Good on you. May I suggest a possibly new plant for you to check into that may help in Rewanda. It is the edible hibiscus plant.. ( called Pele in the Pacific) ..looks rather like an okra plant but you eat the leaves rather than the seed pods. It is grown a lot in Fiji, Tonga and Melanisian islands. It is easy to grow from stem cuttings or seed. Once established it is just a matter of cutting off some of the big leaves from the shrub and throwing them in the cooking pot. Like okra, the leaves are a little slimmy but you do not notice it when cooked. It is super nutritional with even some protein.
100 gms. has 5.7 g of protein, 580mg calcium, 3mg iron, 13,000 I.U. Vitamin A and 118mg of Vitamin C.
As you can see...a super nutrional plant. The plant needs to be regrown every few years ...gets too woody and lanky. Watch out for snails on it too. I put crushed egg shells around the stems of my new plants to keep them away. Otherwise it is the lazy gardeners dream. There are several different varieties...leaf a little different shape or more purple coloring in leaf veins. I hope you will check it out and best wishes. Aloha
leliaforeman
butare
Rwanda

January 15, 2008
7:42 AM

Post #4404322

Dear Stellamarina,
Thank you. I think I have that covered as I have given Pastor David a package of hibiscus seeds called Roselle (if I remember correctly). You can eat the flower too. You mentioned different varieties. ECHO offers only the one. Where can I buy seeds of the other varieties so we can run some tests?
roybird
Santa Fe, NM

January 15, 2008
8:08 PM

Post #4406283

ooh, I love sweet potatoes! Nice, informative article.
chickenrancher
Nova, OH
(Zone 5b)

January 15, 2008
10:41 PM

Post #4406777

I grew Georgia Jet and Beauregard last year. I am planning on getting slips from
http://www.sandhillpreservation.com
They have the largest variety I've ever seen, and I'm looking forward to trying some new varieties this year!!!
I had no problem growing them here in OH.
I LOVE sweet potatoes but my DH caould take or leave them. More for me!!!
Megan
stellamarina
Laie, HI

January 16, 2008
1:47 AM

Post #4407599

Hi again to Lelia: Pele...the edible hibiscus... is something other than Roselle. ( Roselle flowers make beautiful jam, by the way.) This edibel hibiscus is Abelmoschus manihot, also called Hibiscus manihot. I have seen a few online companies selling the seed. Sorry I can not supply any as no flowers on plants right now...I try to keep them trimmed to promote leaf growth. A few years ago was having a conversation with a FAO regional leader. We talked about Pele...the "Polynesian spinach" and he mentioned that there were some plants in Africa refered to as "African spinach" ...I think wild plants. Mmmmm...just looking through my travel note books and found my notes on the conversation... He talked about a plant in the Chenopodium family...maybe it something you will come across. Wishing you well in your project. Aloha
Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

November 22, 2010
8:29 PM

Post #8226287

Leliaforum:
I have never gone hardly anywhere, but I watch a lot of TV!
I think I say a program once were they were genetically modifiying food, up in Michigan Univerisity in Ann Harbor.
Some one in Africa was working with them to produce a sweet potato that was resistant to the diseases that were a problem in Africa. I really think it was a sweet potato, and not a yam, but I could be mistaken since I watched this program a decade ago.

Oh, and I did enjoy the article, but starting the sweet potatoes is a lot more complicated than what was indicated in the article. Sorry, but it is true. What does it take to start a sweet potatoe????? Well for me what works best is an accident! I am not kidding. I try to start them in the house all warm with water and loamy soil and nothing. Throw out the little o'le ones we did not eat in the winter - when it comes spring and up they come. So, it is not something that I can depend on. I order mine for the last few years from a nursery.

Mine in the fall is as big as mush melons. Yes, I know I am bragging, but it gives me pleasure to dig up these monsters, and my cousins all come to visit me around the end of October loves for me to give them some big monsters..
wannadanc
Olympia, WA

October 15, 2012
10:26 AM

Post #9305998

With regarding to "starting" a sweet tater, I foolishly (for me) bought a small box of them on sale at Costco. After fixing the obligatory holiday ones, I forgot about the box and the remaining taters in it. Imagine my surprise to find sprouts emerging. I didn't have the brain cells God gave a gnat, and so while I enjoyed "watching" it grow more after placing in a glass of water (ala avocado), I eventually got bored and overgrown and ended its life none too gracefully. I might do it differently next time!!!!!!
Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

October 15, 2012
4:55 PM

Post #9306424

wannadanc
I have since found out that the Bauregaurds that I like to raise - have been bred up to be slow to sprout.
I can store them in my basement from September to mid August. A whole year!!!
They sprouted this year in mid August. I put them in the aquariuam on the back porch. Now, what should I do with them?
Should I try to keep them over winter and plant out in the garden next spring?
Or should I feed them to my geese - who absolutely love those sweet potatoe thin hairy roots?
stellamarina
Laie, HI

October 15, 2012
11:47 PM

Post #9306683

Seems like this old thread on Sweet potatoes has come to the top again...so just adding a few more thoughts in case Leila Forman is looking in again. I heard a program on the radio the other day where they were talking about sweet potatoes in Africa and that they are trying to push the orange color flesh type because it has way more Vit A which is missing in many diets there and causing blindness and other problems. I think the African type is more like the Polynesian type which is a pale yellow flesh. The other plant that I would like to recommend you check out is the Chaya. ...also called Mayan Spinach...from the Yucatan area. It is a tree that it is super hardy in difficult climates and you just pick the leaves ...keep tree trimmed down for easy harvest. These leaves must be cooked though before eating. Super nutritious.
borgeaud
Kidderminster
United Kingdom

October 18, 2012
2:50 AM

Post #9308603

Sweet potatoes make a brilliant winter soup - veg or chicken stock, any bits of veg that need using up, an onion, a teaspoon of ground cumin, and of course a large sweet potato. Boil it all up until soft then blitz it in a blender, a real winter warmer and freezes well too!

melody

melody
Benton, KY
(Zone 7a)


October 18, 2012
6:49 AM

Post #9308736

Sounds yummy! I put sweet potatoes in soups and stews too.
Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

October 18, 2012
8:40 AM

Post #9308844

I do that with butternut squash.
Blend it up into a soup.
I don't use cumin -- I used poultry seasoning (sage mostly) for the chicken broth --- and cream. Is that called a bisque?


sweet potatoes, butternut squash, pumpkins, cushaws can all be interchanged -- can't they?

Sweet potato pie might be some what more thicker and meatier than a pumpkin pie though.

Borgeaud:Is your sweet potato soup -- a bisque? cumin sounds like it would be really, really good!
borgeaud
Kidderminster
United Kingdom

October 20, 2012
8:42 AM

Post #9310457

Liquidambar2: Not really sure what a bisque is, but if it has cream in then mine probably isn't. I might try putting a bit of cream in next time, it would make it really indulgent! The cumin gives it a bit of zing!
Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

October 20, 2012
5:51 PM

Post #9310853

Cream is an Indulgent.
Yes, I understand - for at one time I thought so too.
I had my family for years on low fat diets. Cream was horrible!

But when I read that epilespy (my tiny son had it) might be cured by eating a ketogenic diet - a diet with a lot of fat and that fat was mostly cream --- I started rethinking on this low fat diet deal. Maybe it is not the fat, but the carbs?

Then I read in 2005 that John Hopkins University had finished their research and found that the Atkins diet of 15 carbs a day could control epilepsy too -- Atkins diet that had more protein than fat like the ketogenic diet!

Not only that but they are looking at the Atkins diet for possible treatments for alziheimers, rhumatoid arthrititis, vassculities, autism and a bunch of other stuff - that I don't remember.

- I thought to myself -- what if all of us are falling over with heart attacks and diabeties not because of the ---- fats ----but carbs?

Well, then again maybe my family is different from everyone else. My family's metabolism, and their ablity to break up and use carbs were ruined by the pertussis vaccine. So, maybe it is just us that have to watch out for those carbs - fast released carbs like white flour.

For us its the white flour; now there is an indulgence! : )
stellamarina
Laie, HI

October 21, 2012
2:08 PM

Post #9311429

Interesting stuff Liquid. I will not feel guiltly eating cream any more. :0) Actually , I too have heard of a family whos daughter was cured of epilepsy by eating a high fat diet. One reason while low fat milk is not given too children under two years old is because of brain development.
Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

October 21, 2012
7:43 PM

Post #9311694

Exactly Right Stella of Paradise Island!

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