The Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are versatile root vegetables with a rich earthy flavour, and which are the roots of a trailing vine belonging to the morning glory family — despite common thinking, they are not related to yams or taro. In Australia they are available primarily in late summer and early autumn.
Sweet Potatoes are native to Central America and the Pacific Islands, and were also cultivated in New Zealand. James Cook recorded their use there in 1769.
Sweet potatoes are a great source of Vitamin C, complex carbohydrate and vitamin A, high in starch and dietary fibre, and contain no fat. They can be boiled, mashed, fried, grated raw into coleslaw, salads and sandwich fillings. They can be peeled and cut into chips and fried in hot vegetable oil. They are great in a vegetable lasagne with spinach and roast tomato. They make a great soup.
Keep sweet potatoes out of the fridge, as they develop chilling injury quite readily. Eat as soon as possible and avoid cracked, bruised or soft sweet potatoes. Leave the skins on when baking to retain their shape. The flesh of some varieties discolour when cut or peeled, so immerse in acidulated water (water with lemon juice or a splash of vinegar).
The three varieties of sweet potato – kumara, sweet brown and purple/red – are available in Australia. Kumara has a drier flesh and is great in puddings; the brown sweet potato has a light skin with creamy white flesh that is more fibrous and is excellent for baking and combining with potato. The purple/red variety has moist creamy white flesh with a purple fleck and is sweeter when baked slowly at a low temperature.
Browse some of the Sweet Potato recipes
- Narasihman’s Sweet Potato, Eggplant and Spinach Madras Curry
- A Vindaloo of Sorts: spicy potato and sweet potato