Sweet Potatoes – Interesting Facts

Botanically, sweet potatoes are part of the bindweed or morning glory family. Despite its name, it is only a distant relative of the ordinary potato, but the two spuds do share similarities when it comes to their nutrient composition. Both are rich in carbohydrates, potassium, magnesium, iron and zinc while containing only very little fat. Red sweet potatoes additionally provide plenty of vitamin E, vitamin A and beta carotene. The sweet taste of this superfood is derived from its high starch content.

 

Food Facts Food Facts

Sweet potatoe

Class

Ipomea

Calories

86 kcal per 100 g

Nutrients

20g carbohydrates, 3g fibre, 0.1g fat, 1.6g protein per 100g

Season

available year-round

Storage

store dry at 18 to 22°C room temperature

Shelf life

up to two weeks

Sweet Potatoes – Origin, Cultivation Area and Preparation

Originally sweet potatoes are from Central America, where they were cultivated and consumed before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492. Freed slaves later brought the spud, also known as yam, from the American continent to Africa. In Europe they are now predominantly cultivated in Spain, Portugal and Italy. Although the sweet potato grows in tropical as well as subtropical climates, it generally requires a warmer climate. There are different types of sweet potatoes: the red-fleshed sweet potato is the most common and also viewed as the most flavourful. Next to the orange sweet potato, white and purple types are also cultivated.

Food bloggers praise their versatility, nutritionists applaud their high vitamin, trace elements and mineral content and athletes appreciate their low calorie and fat content. This combination has made the usually orange-coloured spud a serious contender to dethrone the longstanding providers of carbohydrates like rice or pasta. The ordinary white potato also pales in comparison to its vibrantly coloured relative. Whether, baked, roasted, filled, pan-fried or deep-fried and turned into chips – the options for how to cook the sweet potato are endless.

Sweet potatoes are usually peeled before cooking, but can also be turned into a baked potato with the skin left on, conserving more of the nutrients. Due to their high water content, sweet potatoes are at their most flavourful up to two weeks after purchase. They are best stored in a cool cellar, but should not be refrigerated. Should you wish to store your sweet potatoes for longer than two weeks make sure they are not lying on top of each other and keep an apple amongst them – it will stop the spuds from sprouting.

Sweet Potatoes – Not Just a Savoury Treat

Sweet potatoes aren’t limited to savoury dishes; thanks to their sweet taste they are great as dough for biscuits or brownies. This is partly also due to the texture of the spud – cooked for long enough, it has a very soft, doughy consistency, which makes the mixture very smooth. This root vegetable also goes well with spices like cinnamon or cardamom, making it an ideal ingredient for desserts and sweet dishes.

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Sweet Potato Recipes

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