5 Winter Superfoods: Sweet Potatoes: Selection, Storage, Preparation and Varieties
Choose firm, dark, smooth sweet potatoes without wrinkles, bruises, sprouts,
or decay. Even if cut away, a decayed spot may have already caused the whole
potato to take on an unpleasant flavor.
Sweet potatoes spoil rapidly. To keep them fresh, store them in a dry, cool
(55-60º) place such a cellar, pantry, or garage. Do not store them in the
refrigerator, where they will develop a hard core and an "off" taste.
If stored properly, sweet potatoes will keep for a month or longer. At normal
room temperature, they should be used within a week of purchase. You may brush
off any excess dirt before storing, but do not wash them until you are ready to
cook them. It is the moisture from washing that will increase their
Wash sweet potatoes well. Cook them whole whenever possible as most of the
nutrients are next to the skin, and skins are easier to remove after they have
been cooked. Pierce skin with fork. Place potatoes in a pan and cook in an oven
heated to 375º F for about 45 minutes or until tender. Cool potatoes slightly
before removing skins. Sweet potatoes can be cooked in a microwave oven to save
time. Wash and pierce potatoes, then place them on a paper towel. The cooking
time for 2 medium potatoes is on high for 5-9 minutes, and 4 potatoes, 10-13
minutes. Yellow and dark orange sweet potatoes can be used interchangeably in
recipes. Try not to mix the two types in a single dish, because their different
textures and cooking times may affect the outcome of the recipe. The yellow
variety takes longer to cook than the orange and will be done at the upper
range of cooking times.
Although sweet potatoes are harvested in August through October, they are
available in supermarkets all year. Many stores feature them at Thanksgiving
and Christmas. There are two varieties of sweet potatoes; the pale yellow with
a dry flesh and the dark orange with a moist flesh. The dark orange variety is
plumper in shape and somewhat sweeter than the yellow variety.