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Friday, November 16, 2012

Sweet Potato Heaven

Can you see the steam rising?
It's is hot, baked, and ready to eat!
There are certain foods that I have loved since I was a child. I remember when I was about eight-years-old and living in Jackson, MS. The day was cold. The house was warmer than usual from the oven baking sweet potatoes. I asked mama if I could take a potato outdoors to eat. She wrapped it in a tea towel and I wandered around on a raw day, feeling so happy. My hands were warm from holding the towel with a sweet potato fresh from the oven.
sweet potato warehouse

All these boxes have sweet potatoes in them. You can see how far back the stacks go by looking at the light on the upper left. I had left my sd card at home, so I could not take any other pictures. I feel really great when I stand in this room. The picture does not give you the scope of this operation. The family that works here is truly nice, helpful, and friendly. This operation sells to a place that cans sweet potatoes.
I love going to the sweet potato farm! It feels good to drive about ten miles to get a nine-month supply of sweet potatoes. One year, I bought 160 lbs of sweet potatoes that lasted until June the next year. Last year, I bought 60 lbs. This year, I bought 40 lbs. Lack or room for storage is my only obstacle. Remember, the place is a wreck from bringing in things from other rooms.
Sweet potatoes are $0.69/lb right now. I paid $0.25/lb.  The price will fluctuate. When I asked exbf three years ago if he thought I had bought too many and let too many spoil, he was encouraging. "Even with what you lost, you still profited in savings."
Not only did I get a good price, I absolutely know the variety. I have stated this before--buy Beauregard. They are so sweet they do not need butter or sugar to make them palatable.  Actually, Georgia Jet is better, but they don't store well. Buying sweet potatoes from the grocery store or even the produce market is a crap shoot. They never know the variety!
These are soooo local.

In the kitchen, ready for easy use.
In other years, the boxes have just sat on the floor, sometimes stacked. This year, I have a bookcase just emptied of books. So, I had him put part of the sweet potatoes in paper bags and put them in the bookcase. It will work better. They are in boxes and bags and more easily available. The room stays cool, and they are in the dark inside the boxes and bags.

They sell turnip greens, too.

This "tub" is outside where they wash greens by hand. Last time I went, two weeks ago, the greens were in the turquoise tub. Exbf noticed there was still a green crop of something. It was so far away, I could not even guess what was growing.

See the sides of this bus?
The sides are cut out and boxes of sweet potatoes are stacked in the sides. I was inordinately excited when I saw this drive from the back of the farm. "Look, look!" 'it's a sweet potato bus!" I kept saying this while trying to get my camera ready to shoot. So, I finally got a side picture as it turned onto the main road. 
I baked ten sweet potatoes on Thursday, and exbf got five. I offer every year to give him a bag, but he prefers to have me cook them.

My neighbor who died at 94 taught me the flavorful and "right" way to bake sweet potatoes. Her way involves using every cast  iron skillet and cast iron griddle you own. I used a broiler pan with parchment paper to avoid having to wash sweet potato sugar that becomes concrete from the cast iron. Yes, it is easy to get off an iron skillet, but I prefer wadding a piece of parchment paper and throwing it away  at this time in my life.

*Get sweet potatoes 
*Wash the sweet potatoes in water.(just rub them off with your hands. no scrubbing unles filthy)
*Lay on a dish towel to dry OR
*Dry them with the dish towel
*Cut off places you want to cut off
*Pull off tiny roots
*Pour a bit of oil in a saucer (or bacon drippings)
*Use both hands to coat whole potato and cut places with oil
*Pierce with a fork the length of potato OR
*Do like I do, just use a knife to make very shallow slices across the top.
Place in iron skillet or lined shallow pan. Bake on 350.
It's hard to say how long to bake them. That depends on the size of the potato. To begin with,  45 minutes is a minimum. They start looking all fat and puffy. Use a dry dish cloth or potholder to gently squeeze the sweet potato. When they easily yield, with no hardness evident, take the fully baked ones out. Yes, I do burn myself quite regularly because I get tired of the pot holder or cloth and just stick my hand in the over and squeeze the sweet potatoes. Ouch! Often, taking out a few at a time when they are done is how it happens.

Rarely are all potatoes the same size. Size matters when figuring out how long it takes until sweet potatoes are fully cooked. If I have 20 sweet potatoes in the oven, they are rarely the same size. For more uniform sizes, I could pay $16 for 40 lbs, but I prefer to pay $10 for 40 lbs.
When I put the sweet potatoes in the microwave, they do not turn out very sweet. Microwave at your own risk. My daughter insists on microwaving them and then putting sugar and butter in them. Aaack! Thankfully, she has a son and daughter to deal with when they doubt her good advice when they are grown. That will show her.
This year, I hope to dehydrate sweet potatoes, and then use a food processor to make powder so that I can rehydrate these in the summer, long after they would have been eaten or have gone way past their prime.
I will use the sweet potatoes as a substitute in pumpkin bread and make sweet potato pies.

Tonight, exbf and I had baked chicken, sweet potatoes, and collard greens. YUM. I had a breast and he had a leg and thigh. He has a plate with the other thigh and leg, and a bag with the wings. I think he helps me for the food.

By the way, sweet potatoes and yams are not the same thing. Read all about yams, sweet potatoes, history and nutrition right HERE

Your turn
If you love sweet potatoes like I do, raise your hand. Have you ever oiled your sweet potatoes to cook them? I am so fascinated by the sweet potato bus! Do you ever buy sweet potatoes by the 40 lb box?


  1. Candace sent a comment that I must have deleted. I was able to retrieve it from my inbox. Here is what she said:

    I have oiled sweet potatoes but never put them in a cast iron skillet. I put them right on the oven rack or on foil.
    Have not bought a box but couple of )years ago we bought a "gunny sack" full of sweet potatoes from Texas(I live in Colorado and they were wonderful. Kept them in a very cool dark place and they lasted till Feb!

  2. I put these lately on a broiler pan that has parchment paper on it. There is less mess.

    A gunny sack of sweet potatoes is a large amount. Isn't it nice to have the food there for when you wnt to eat. You are the first person ever to say she oiled sweet potatoes

    Cool and dark is the key.

  3. We love sweet potatoes. I also oil them (but we used Crisco when I was a kid) and bake them in the parchment lined cast iron pans. The parchment is a must for easy clean up. I also agree, never microwave sweet potatoes, the flavor isn't the same. It takes oven baking to develop the sugars for the best flavor. No toppings needed. Just like eating candy and one of my favorite healthy treats.


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