It’s no surprise that sweet potatoes really live up to their name. They’re one of our favorite and most popular organic vegetables that we grow and are highly sought after once they come into season.
But not many folks realize that the sweet reward of a sweet potato comes with many months of careful planning and a hefty dose of patience.
Before we dive in, an important distinction must be made: sweet potatoes are a subtropical tuber and behave quite differently from a more traditional potato. They’re part of the morning glory family whereas other potatoes are part of the nightshade family. It’s not crucial to understand every minute difference between them, but one of the biggest stand out differences comes in the way they travel from field to fork.
It all starts when we receive organic sweet potato “slips,” or vine cuttings/sprouts, from our supplier in North Carolina. They arrive in large quantities in a box which we quickly rush to plant as soon as we can. Planting is meticulously done by hand since our mechanical transplanters won’t work without a root ball. This all takes place around Memorial Day.
Come the end of August/early September, it’s time for the sweet potatoes to be harvested. This is done by hand as well and with the utmost care, because at this point their skin is quite soft and easily damaged. Harvesting takes several weeks.
After being harvested and rinsed of field dirt, the sweet potatoes are transferred to their home away from home, a climate controlled room set at a high, tropical-like temperature. This allows for their skins to set and act like a jacket for the flesh underneath, which gets a chance to get warm and toasty and really sweeten up. This is why sweet potato skins are much firmer than the traditional potato.
Once the skins have firmed up to our liking, they’re ready to eat! It’s always worth the wait to enjoy a fresh and delicious sweet potato and the possibilities for preparation are endless.
Of course one of our favorite recipes is for sweet potato fries, made from our fingerling sweet potatoes.
Sweet Potato Fries
1 pound fingerling sweet potatoes, cut into matchsticks
1 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat the sweet potato matchsticks in the olive oil and then toss them in the spices mixed together. Spread them out on a baking sheet, making sure not to crowd them.
Bake until brown and crisp on one side, around 13 minutes. Flip and do the same on the other side. Enjoy hot!