State Plate: North Carolina’s Sweet Potatoes

You Like Po-TAY-to, I Like Po-TAH-to

North Carolina is the country’s largest producer of sweet potatoes! This tasty superfood is packed with nutritious vitamins and minerals including vitamins, A, B, and C. In fact, eat one medium sweet potato and you’ll get 100% of the daily requirement of vitamin A! They’re a great source of potassium and magnesium and are high in fiber and fat free (at least until you slather on the butter!).

That’s a Keeper!

Here are storage tips to keep your sweet potatoes sweet and fresh!

Skip the Fridge – Putting your sweet potatoes in the refrigerator will not only make them hard in the middle, but it will also create a nasty taste! Keep them sweet; keep them out of the fridge!

Keep Cool – While the fridge is too cold, sweet potatoes do like a cool, dry environment where they can be stored in a well-ventilated container. If you have a basement or root cellar, that’s great! But if, not, make sure your potatoes are well away from high heat, such as your stove or heating vents, etc.

Mark Your Calendar – If you store your potatoes in a cool, dry place, they can keep up to two weeks.

Delicious, Delectable, Diverse Sweet Potatoes!

Classic Bake!

Puncture the sweet potato skins several times with a fork. Place the whole potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet, and bake at 400° for 45 – 60 minutes. Check to see that the potato is soft and tender. Top with butter and brown sugar or stuff with just about any of your favorite foods from sliced avocado to garlicky shrimp to chopped apples and walnuts! Or enjoy the full, natural flavor of a plain, unadorned sweet potato.

Stir it Up for a Savory Sauté

Slice or chop your sweet potatoes. Place the pieces in your favorite oil and sauté for about 10 minutes until tender.

Rolling to a Quick Boil

Boiling can seem like it takes forever! Here’s a method that takes less than 15 minutes! Cut potatoes into slices, 1-inch thick. Bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a skillet, and add potatoes. Cook for about 12 minutes.

Build up a Head of Steam

Steaming softens the potatoes, yet maintains the texture, rich flavor and a higher amount of nutrients. Cut sweet potatoes into consistent slices, about 1-inch thick and place on a steaming tray. If you don’t have a tray, you can use a small metal strainer. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a strong boil over high heat then lower to medium. Place the steamer rack with the potato slices over the pot, allowing the steam to cook the potatoes. Cook time can be anywhere between 15 and 20 minutes, but check for doneness at 12 minutes. If your fork pierces the potato slices easily, they’re cooked. If not, give them another 5 minutes and check again.

Zap Them!

To microwave a whole potato: Pierce the sweet potato skin 5-6 times, and cook for 5 to 8 minutes. Rotate the potato halfway through. If you just want to start the baking process and finish in the oven, microwave the sweet potato for 4 minutes then bake at 450° for 5 to 10 minutes.

Fire up the Grill

Cut your sweet potatoes in lengthwise slices, about ¼ inch thick, brush with olive oil and season with salt. Cover and grill over direct heat about 3 – 6 minutes on each side until the potatoes show grill marks. Serve these tasty slices hot with a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice and finely-chopped parsley, your favorite dressing that complements the sweet potato flavor, or simply with an additional brushing of oil.

Cookout – Indoors

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Cut into wedges and season as described above. Place a rack on a baking sheet and position potatoes on the rack. Bake until tender inside and browned and crispy around the edges.

Sweet Potato Broil

Cut sweet potatoes into 1-inch thick slices and broil for 10 minutes. You can brush the slices with butter and maple syrup for an even sweeter treat!