Market News

Featured Specialty Crop – Sweet Potato

Sweet Potato Facts & Trivia

The Sweet potato is believed to have originated in South or Central America, but the true origin has not been clearly identified as early evidence of it can be found in multiple regions of the world. Evidence of its cultivation in Peru dates back 4000 years before the Spanish arrival in the 1490’s, and taxonomic studies indicate that historically the densest collection of genetic diversity of the Sweet potato crop is found in Central America.

In the United States, the terms Sweet potato and yam are often used interchangeably, though, in reality, they are botanically not the same thing. The first Sweet potatoes produced commercially in the United States were firm and white-fleshed types. When the orange-fleshed variety moved into the commercial market, producers and shippers needed a means to differentiate them from the white-fleshed variety. The name yam was picked as a result of the Sweet potato’s similar appearance to that of the African root vegetable Nyami, translated as yam in English. Though Sweet potatoes are commonly sold as yams in grocery stores today, the U.S Department of Agriculture does require that these yams also be labeled as Sweet potatoes. Additionally, as a result, many processed canned and frozen orange Sweet potato products in the United States are sold under the name yam as well.

Why is Sweet Potato So Good For You?

Sweet potatoes are high in potassium and vitamin A and offer some antioxidants, vitamin E, and vitamin C.

What does it look/taste like?

Sweet potatoes are medium to large in size and are roughly ovate and cylindrical in shape with tapered ends. Regardless of color, Sweet potatoes maintain a similar shape in all varieties. Sweet potatoes can vary in skin color ranging from golden-brown, white, copper-red, to purple and generally have a smooth texture. The flesh is dense and can be white, orange, yellow or orange-red. Sweet potatoes have a sugary flavor and can be firm or soft, with white-fleshed varieties having the firmest, driest flesh and orange-fleshed varieties having a softer, moister texture.

How do you eat it?

  • Sweet potatoes are best suited for cooked applications such as baking, steaming, and roasting.
  • Used in both sweet and savory preparations, Sweet potatoes can be sliced thin and sautéed or layered into lasagna, ratatouille, or casseroles.
  • Cut into wedges or sticks it can also be baked, grilled, or deep fried.
  • The moist orange fleshed Sweet potatoes can be used to make a naturally sweet puree for pies, bread, sauces, and cakes.
  • Complimentary flavors include toasted walnuts, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, cumin, curry, cilantro, parsley, pears, apples, eggplant, bell pepper, maple syrup, brown sugar, sour cream, butter, and feta cheese.
  • Sweet potatoes should be stored loose in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and should not be refrigerated.
Information Adapted from specialtyproduce.com

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