Posted to Facebook on 2/26/19
The sweet potato originated in South America. It is not closely related to the regular white potato. It is in the morning glory family. The plant has long sprawling vines that take root wherever it touches the ground. It produces attractive white and purple flowers. The leave are also eatable. It is very cold sensitive and doesn’t do well with nights below 50 degrees.
The sweet potatoes I’ve grown range in size from a few inches to eighteen inches long and four inches in diameter. The first time I brought one of the huge ones into the house it took me a while to figure out how to cut it. I had images in my mind of using my reciprocating saw on it. I couldn’t cut it in half with a knife. Eventually I figured out that I could start on one end and cut ½” pieces off of it with a knife.
I was cooking for one, not a family reunion, and didn’t know what to do with the major piece left. It wouldn’t do well in the refrigerator so I just left it on the counter. The next day it looked just as fresh as it had. The cut end had dried. It had begun to heal itself, since the root remains alive. I just cut the little dried piece off and it was fresh at that point.
Since then I have left the unused portions on the counter for days and then cut the end off, cut off what I want, and leave the rest to begin to dry or heal over. The sweet potatoes I have grown, and some I have bought, do very well this way. Others do not. I suspect it has to do with the nutrients in the ground they grew in. I have bought some that started growing mold on the end. These I had to cut off a bigger piece before I got to fresh flesh. They were still good. The same protein that enables this healing provides us with a beneficial antioxidant.
The eatable root remains alive and sensitive to cold even after harvesting so never refrigerate it. I have stored them in a closet for nearly a year.
When buying sweet potatoes pay attention to the weight. The very light ones are not as fresh or as good.
The sweet potato is high in vitamin A and C, manganese, and anthocyanins. One unusual characteristic is that boiling them is the best way to enhance the bioavailability of the nutrients. I like to boil some and add it to my smoothie along with the water. Any way you cook them they are still very good for you so just eat them.