- Kumara (New Zealand)
Production of Sweet potato
Over the years, sweet potatoes have been studied, and the means of production have also been improved. Initially, people experimented, but now there are particular things that are known that guarantees better production of this vegetable.
One of the first things that were discovered regarding sweet potato productions is that this vegetable cannot grow in frosty conditions. This explains why it grows well in warmer climates. It is said the best climate for producing sweet potatoes is 24 °C.
The tuberous roots of the sweet potato mature between 2 to 9 months. However, this maturity is directly dependent on the grower and the conditions too. Soil, climatic conditions and the grower’s hand are all important to the growth of the sweet potato.
The adaptability of the sweet potato is limited to warmer climates. If these vegetables are exposed to cold they will not grow. Therefore, the best conditions of them are hot days and warm nights. Growing these plants under these conditions is best because it aids the best production for commercial feasibility. It is also known that longer exposure to sunlight on longer days favors better growth of vines. Short days induce greater root development. This is because the sweet potato stores food, and it must be remembered that the sweet potato like the regular potato is a storage root.
Well-drained soils are best for producing sweet potatoes. The soils should loamy and sandy. As opposed to these soils, you should not use soils that are too heavy or rich in organic matter. Soil acidity should range between a pH 5.5-6.0. Rotation of soil is important due to scurf and Fusarium wilt. The correct balance and rotation of soil will aid better sweet potato production. With experience of using soils of different mixtures, growers have learned to ameliorate production over the years.
Sweet potatoes are usually propagated through vine cuttings called slips. Though slips are used quite a lot for this purpose, the use of sprouts is preferred. These sprouts are selected from stock that is chosen because of its appearance. It is estimated that 7 or 8 sweet potato stock plantings are required in order to cater to one acre. As an example, it is said that for Pacific Northwest growth and production, sprouts should be selected from sweet potato nurseries in California that have a good reputation.
Indeed, the growing or sweet potatoes is a task that requires experts. These vegetables do not just happen to grow well, and they need to be cultivated carefully. Growers have ended learned about these vegetables through experience and developed the best possible conditions to grow them for commercial purposes. Soil conditions, climatic conditions, etc. are important to consider. In addition to this, growers need to know when they should pick out the sweet potatoes, as they need care for them in case they are exposed to damage. Growers therefore need to keep a keen eye on the skin condition of sweet potatoes.
Buying Sweet potato
Buying sweet potatoes may not be the same as shopping for other vegetables. This is because of the different types of sweet potatoes available in the market. Unless you were to have labels on each kind of sweet potato, you would not know what type of flesh it has on the inside. However, one indication of an orange-fleshed sweet potato is that it tends to be a bit plump. Its skin would also be slightly on the reddish side. On the other hand, the yellow-fleshed sweet potato tends to be a little narrow in appearance along with having a tanned skin color. Yet, it is sometimes difficult to buy what you really want by simply using your visual judgment. It is advised that you ask the manager in a store for what type of sweet potato you want.
When buying sweet potatoes you need to select ones that are a bit heavy in comparison to their size. This obviously means that they are denser in content. You need to also try and buy those sweet potatoes that are similar in size as well, as it helps when you are cooking them as whole vegetables. When you cook whole vegetables like the sweet potato they should approximately be of similar size so that they cook uniformly. Larger sweet potatoes usually would take a little longer to get cooked.
In addition selecting sweet potatoes that are a bit dense and of similar size, you should aim at buying ones that are smooth and hard. The sweet potatoes you buy should also be free of bruises or signs of decay. Signs of decay usually include sweet potatoes appearing shriveled or having sunken portions or black spots on their skins. Also, if you try to remove these decay signs from the sweet potato, it may already have done its damage by spoiling the flavor of the whole potato.
When you buy sweet potatoes, you need to be aware of the conditions that they have been kept under. This is because the conditions would determine the texture of this vegetable. If they are maintained in a refrigerator, the taste of the sweet potato could easily change. However, they can last and taste well if they are maintained in cool and dark areas that are sufficiently ventilated. Once you cook this delicious vegetable, the sweet potato can last up to a week in a refrigerator.
As opposed to buying sweet potatoes that have been maintained in a cool and dark area, keeping them in places that have temperatures higher than 60°F. would cause them to develop woody characteristics and sprout quicker than they should.
Sweet potatoes can be used in a number of ways to make a variety of dishes. Lime, ginger, cinnamon, honey and nutmeg are some of the ingredients that go well with sweet potatoes. You may also use sweet potatoes in the form of breads, baked desserts and quick puddings, stews and croquettes. In addition to these dishes mentioned here, there are several others that may be made from the versatile sweet potato.
Sweet potato Variations
One of the most versatile vegetables you can come across is the sweet potato. Its variations make it an interesting vegetable that has a long trail of history to it. Like several vegetables that were planted in far off locations by travelers and conquerors, variations of the sweet potato managed to find their way to different locations. Of course, it is the people living in these areas that were fortunate enough to receive this vegetable.
Generally, there are two types of sweet potatoes: One is moist and the other is dry. The moist sweet potato is known to be the orange-fleshed one while the dry sweet potato is known to be the yellow-fleshed one.
The variations of the orange-fleshed sweet potato are well known in the United States markets. However, there are many people who prefer the yellow-fleshed sweet potato, which is the starchier kind.
The orange-fleshed or moist-fleshed sweet potatoes are sometimes known as yams, but the real yam is quite large, and may be as heavy as a hundred pounds. Yams are actually from Africa, but commonly some variations of the sweet potato is called a yam.
The Ipomoea batatas, a sweet potato, is also an American native plant. Christopher Columbus and his crew discovered this type of variation. However, the exact location where this variation of sweet potato was discovered is not traceable, as there is no accurate record of it.
‘Axi’ was another name by which the sweet potato was known near the coastal region of Yucatán and Honduras. Among the natives in this region, the sweet potato was also known as batatas or betatas. As far back as 1514, the sweet potato had 9 known varieties. In Spain alone, the sweet potato was cultivated and more variations of this vegetable were grown. Some of these variations of the sweet potato included purple, red, and pale or white ones.
The reason for the different variations produced was due to the fact that the soil, climatic conditions and other important factors varied. When the sweet potato was taken to different regions, new variations became possible because of the different conditions this vegetable was grown under. However, it appears that the sweet potato did not grow well in some locations. For example, it could not be grown in Belgium when attempted in 1576. John Gerarde claimed to have also grown sweet potatoes in England, and that they were known in warmer climatic areas such as India. The accuracy of this cannot be guaranteed. Also, explorers from Spain had transported sweet potatoes to other locations from where the sweet potato was taken to places like China, India, and Malaya.
In view of the amount of attention the sweet potato received in its earlier days recorded, it cannot be denied that the sweet potato was an important vegetable no matter what its variations were. Whether the sweet potatoes were fleshy or had various colors of skin, they were considered to be important variations.
Preparing Sweet potato
Many people have developed different ways of preparing sweet potatoes. Prior to cooking them, there are particular things that you could do to ensure good taste and longer periods of storing sweet potatoes. To begin with, for the greatest food value, you are advised to select sweet potatoes that have a deep orange color. This means that when you first buy them, you need to select the best sweet potatoes, and make sure they are firm roots. However, you need to handle them carefully from the time you buy them till the time you decide to cook and eat them.
Handling sweet potatoes carefully means that you need to prevent them from being bruised before cooking them. Otherwise, their taste may go bad while you prepare them. The basics of storing sweet potatoes prior to preparing them include storing them in a cool and dry place. Never refrigerate sweet potatoes.
You need to wash your cured sweet potatoes. Cured sweet potatoes are those that have been through their initial storage process that includes storing them at high temperature. After washing them, bake the cured sweet potatoes or boil them until they have turned a bit soft.
The next thing to do with the cured sweet potatoes while preparing them is to cool them. If they have been boiled, you need to drain the sweet potatoes thoroughly and cool them subsequently. After this step, wrap up the sweet potatoes in plastic or foil individually with their skin left on.
Since sweet potato dishes usually freeze easily, they save time and energy. Therefore preparing them in this manner is feasible. What you could do is bake several sweet potatoes together. This saves a great deal of time because you can always freeze them to be used days later. Their taste does not go bad even if you store them up to 10 days after boiling or baking them.
If you use fresh sweet potatoes (ones that are uncured) it is better for you to boil them. These boiled sweet potatoes are best used for preparing dishes in which fruits and syrups are used. This is because uncured sweet potatoes usually do not have enhanced sweetness as cured ones do. Therefore, curing potatoes the way that growers do enhances their quality for cooking.
Canned or frozen sweet potatoes are also used as substitutes in some dishes that need cooked ones. They may substitute fresh sweet potatoes. Using these substitute sweet potatoes means that they are generally smaller than the others. This is because they have been canned of frozen, which causes their size to shrink. Alternatively, for the sake of canning, the potatoes may be cut smaller in size. Due to the size difference between fresh sweet potatoes and canned or frozen ones, there is need to balance them out. It is thought that 6 to 8 canned sweet potatoes roughly equate to 4 medium-sized fresh sweet potatoes. Finally, whatever type of prepared sweet potatoes you use for cooking, they all prove to be very useful in saving a great deal of time.
Cooking Sweet potato
Preparing storing and even cooking sweet potatoes is an interesting experience. There is much to learn if you are experiencing these interesting activities with sweet potatoes for the first time. However, if you are experienced with using sweet potatoes, you can still enjoy the process, as it is simple and timesaving as well. Storage is not much of a problem, and preparation is easily carried out too. Dishes that can be prepared from sweet potatoes are many, and this means that you can try your hand at many different recipes.
The best part about sweet potatoes is that they can be fried, broiled, baked, boiled, frozen or canned. Using a microwave oven to cook sweet potatoes is also a well-known exercise. Before you get down to cooking sweet potatoes, you need to clean the skin properly and cut off any bruised regions of the potatoes. You also need to keep your eyes open for portions of sweet potatoes that might be damaged.
For those who want cut their calories, nothing is better than a plain sweet potato. You do not need to have butter or margarine. In addition to this, you need to use unsweetened orange juice or skim milk in order to prepare mashed sweet potatoes.
The sweet potato on its own does not need anything else if you wish to cut down on calories. Whatever you add to it increases its calorie level. If you simply bake a sweet potato, on its own it is delicious as well as nutritious. If you are not on a diet, you could add butter or margarine to it. You do not need to add any type of ingredient high in calorie content to make the bakes sweet potato tasty.
For cooking up different sweet potato dishes, you may interchange moist sweet potatoes with dry ones. However, in baked good you should avoid switching moist sweet potatoes with dry ones or vice versa. This is because of the difference in moisture level of the baked goods.
For baking potatoes, you need to poke through a sweet potato before it is baked. This allows the steam to escape as the potatoes bake. The next step includes placing the bakes sweet potato on a foil-lined baking sheet. This helps to absorb liquids that emerge from the baked sweet potato. The average cooking time for this baking process is between 30 to 60 minutes, and takes place at a temperature of 400 °F in an oven. However, the time it takes to bake a potato depends on the size of it too.
Boiling a sweet potato does not require you to remove their skin. Once the potato is boiled the skin slips off easily, and this leaves the essential content of the sweet potato in one piece. You may boil sweet potatoes for 15 to 35 minutes. Boiling chunks of sweet potatoes requires 10 to 15 minutes.
You may also microwave sweet potatoes. You need to wash the sweet potatoes, and poke or pierce through them in several places of the potato. You should place the sweet potato on a paper towel. Once it is cooked in the oven, you may remove it and wrap it up in foil and allow it to stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Cooking sweet potatoes in a microwave oven is quicker. Therefore, the cooking time is between 5 to 9 minutes.
Pierce the potatoes with a fork before baking to let the steam escape. To speed clean up, place potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet to catch juices that escape during cooking. Cooking time: 30 to 60 minutes in a 400 °F oven, depending on size.
If cooked whole, sweet potatoes do not need to be peeled. The skins will slip off easily when they are done, leaving most of the nutrients intact. The skin is edible, however, and supplies additional dietary fiber. Cooking time: for whole potatoes, 15 to 35 minutes; for chunks, 10 to 15 minutes.
Pierce potatoes several times with a fork and place on a paper towel. After taking potatoes out of the microwave, wrap in foil and let stand five to ten minutes. Cooking time: for two medium potatoes, five to nine minutes; for four, 10 to 13 minutes.
Storing Sweet potato
If you aren’t a sweet potato user, there are several things that you need to know about this important vegetable. Regarding storing, preparation, cooking etc. of a sweet potato, there are several important points that you can learn. Particularly, it can be asserted that the storing of sweet potatoes is important to everyone one who deals with them. This is because if you are to cook them you need to know how to store them before and after they are cooked. If you are a shopkeeper or store manager, you still need to know about storing sweet potatoes because if you do not store sweet potatoes properly, they may taste bad when the time comes to consume them.
The most important feature of the sweet potato for observation is its skin. The skin of the sweet potato reveals the condition of this vegetable. Though it is rugged in its appearance, it may be damaged easily. Therefore, there is need to care for the skin until it is time to cook and consume the sweet potato.
To make sure that the skin is preserved, sweet potato growers cure them by storing them initially at a high temperature and humidity for a period of roughly ten days. This is prior to the sweet potatoes being circulated in the market. When sweet potatoes are stored in this manner, they are known to retain their natural sweetness, and some experts believe that the natural sweetness in these vegetables is enhanced as well.
Once a customer has bought sweet potatoes or if they are still in a shop or store, you need to maintain them at a temperature that ranges between 50 °F to 60 °F. These vegetables also need to be placed in an area that is well ventilated and dry. One point that is very important to make here is that you should never store sweet potatoes in a refrigerator. If you do so, it will turn hard and also have a bad taste. Sweet potatoes tend to harden from their core if refrigerated. The reason why a sweet potato also loses its taste is due to the fact that at low temperatures its natural sugars get converted to starch. This means that the natural sweet taste that sweet potatoes have diminishes.
Prior to storing sweet potatoes, you should make sure that they are not dirty. When you purchase sweet potatoes from a farmer stand or market, they are usually in this kind of condition. Brush the dirt off gently as possible, but never wash them, as they need to be maintained as dry as possible. If they are dampened and not cooked straight away, they will get spoiled easily. Sweet potatoes should not be exposed to water until you intend on cooking them.
After cooking sweet potatoes, you may store them. They may be stored in their cooked and sliced or mashed form. They can also be frozen if you like. In order to prevent the sweet potatoes from darkening during their cooked storage period, you could sprinkle a little lemon juice on them.
Sweet potato Nutrition
Among many other vegetables that you may be fond of, the sweet potato is believed to be one of the most nutritious. Many people rely on this vegetable as a staple diet, and it indeed helps those who wish to control their weight. This is because of its low calorie content, which is why it is thought that the sweet potato makes a great whole meal on its own with absolutely nothing added to it. Adding any ingredient to sweet potatoes increases calorie level in a meal.
In order to provide you with a breakup of the nutrient level in a sweet potato, the following is interesting to note. In one medium sized baked potato, there are: 117 Calories, total fat 0.1 (g), Saturated fat 0 (g), Monounsaturated fat 0 (g), Polyunsaturated fat 0.1 (mg), Dietary fiber 3.4 (mg), Protein 2 (mg), Carbohydrate 28 (mg), Cholesterol 0 (mg), Sodium 11 (mg), Beta-carotene 15 (mg), Vitamin C 28 (mg), Vitamin B6 0.3 (mg), and Manganese 0.6 (mg).
In addition to the above sweet potatoes are said to be an excellent source of vitamin A. Baked sweet potatoes are known to contain known to contain an excess of 8,800 IU of Vitamin A. Sweet potatoes also contain considerable amounts of Potassium and vitamin C, B6, pantothetic acid, folic acid, riboflavin, and copper.
Sweet potatoes are also sold in a frozen form or as canned food. Canned potatoes are packed along with candied syrup and some may be packed in water. Sweet potatoes sold in cans usually contain lower levels of beta-carotene, vitamin B, and C, as opposed to fresh sweet potatoes. It is thought that beta-carotene content prevents chances of one developing cancer.
Aside from the minerals and vitamins mentioned above, sweet potatoes also have Manganese as well as Potassium. Sweet potatoes also contain Calcium and Thiamine. These are two minerals that are required on a daily basis along with a few others that are required in particular amounts. The sweet potato is a vegetable that contributes a significant amount to these daily requirements, making it a must in your everyday diet.
Aside from the nutrients that sweet potatoes provide in the form of vitamins and minerals, it is thought that they are an excellent source of dietary fiber. This is very important for the digestive system.
Though sweet potatoes are considered to be vegetables that are consumed on Thanksgiving, it needs to be remembered that this is a vegetable that should be eaten as part of one’s regular diet. Not only is it a great vegetable to consume as a source of nutrients, but it also has great taste and may be consumed in a number of ways. Another attribute to mention here is that sweet potatoes can be used to make a number of dishes. Also, sweet potatoes may be prepared and stored for cooking later, and indeed, their storage period is of several days, which means that it is a timesaver.
Sweet potato Nutritional Research
The use of the sweet potato is a vegetable with several benefits. It is considered to be a wholesome vegetable, and this is the reason why research into its uses is still being conducted. The sweet potato has been around for centuries, but there is still immense interest in the nutrients it provides users with.
Sweet potatoes are currently used in Africa for combating eye-related conditions like night blindness. This is because of the amount of Vitamin A it contains. It is thought that because of lacking vitamin A, many children even face death. Therefore, using the sweet potato there works wonders.
Though many researchers believed that the sweet potato would not be suited to African palates, a CIP project that was carried out in eastern and southern Africa proved otherwise. Researchers concluded their project with constructing a nutritional education program. This has been successful in convincing African mothers to make use of newer varieties of the sweet potato that would prove more beneficial for them and their children.
Other research carried out in Pho Yen province (Vietnam) revealed that an altered traditional pig feed. This was to include chopped, boiled sweet potato mixture that was allowed to ferment. It was discovered that this new feed resulted in larger and healthier animals.