Sweet potato cookery need not and should not be confined to vegetable side dishes. The sweet potato is one of the most versatile vegetable groups. Its inherent flavor blends with herbs, spices and flavorings to produce delicious dishes of all types of main dish casseroles, crisp and colorful salads and breads to name only a few. Its brilliant yellow and orange hues liven up almost any dish. For the most food value, choose sweet potatoes of a deep orange color.
Available all year round, sweet potatoes are most abundant from September though June. When buying sweet potatoes, select firm, well-shaped roots; avoid those with soft spots or any signs of decay. While sweet potatoes may look tough, they bruise easily and should be handled carefully. Sweet potatoes should be stored in a cool, dry, well ventilated area (55 degrees F. with low humidity is best). Do not refrigerate sweet potatoes unless they've been cooked. Cold temperatures can cause them to become bitter.
There are several ways to cook sweet potatoes. They can be baked, boiled, fried, broiled, prepared in a microwave oven, candied and frozen. Whenever possible, cook sweet potatoes in their jackets to take advantage of the natural sugars found just under the skin. Be sure to use a stainless steel knife to trim ends or to cut out bruised spots. Carbon blades may cause the sweet potato to darken.
Sweet potatoes are a versatile food that can be used in most recipes calling for potatoes, pumpkin, squash and even bananas when use in breads, cakes and cookies.
To Steam: In a steamer, bring 1 ½ inches if water to a boil. Place whole, unpeeled sweet potatoes in steamer basket, cooking and steam for 40 to 50 minutes or until tender. To shorten cooking time to 30 minutes, peel and cut into 1- inch cubes.
To Boil: Cook unpeeled sweet potatoes, covered, in small amount of boiling salted water 20 to 30 minutes or until desired doneness. For use in salads where covered or sliced, cook until just barely tender. Peel and cut into sticks and serve with your favorite dip, or grate and toss in a salad.. To prevent cut sweet potatoes from turning brown, immediately rinse pieces in cold water. Place cut sweet potatoes in ice water or in a plastic bag with ice and refrigerate until ready to serve. They will remain crisp for up to four days.
To Saute: Peel sweet potatoes first then cut into ¼ to ½ - inch thick slices or 1 – inch cubes. Place pieces and 2 tablespoons butter or oil in a large skillet and cook, stirring frequently, over medium-high heat until tender.
To Bake: Place in 350 F. oven and bake 45 to 50 minutes or until tender.
To Fry: Boil for 10 minutes. Peel and cut into lengthwise strips about ¼ - to ½ inch thick. Place in oil that has been heated to 365 degrees F. Fry until brown and tender. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.
To Charcoal Broil: Wrap medium-size sweet potatoes individually in heavy-duty aluminum fill. Place on grill, about 5 inches from coals. Cook for about 45 minutes or until tender. To hasten, boil 10 minutes before wrapping in foil and bury in coals.
To Grill: Slice sweet potatoes lengthwise into ¼ - inch thick slices. Place on grill. Turn once. Remove when tender.
To Pan Roast: Boil for 10 minutes. Drain, peel and add to pan one hour before meat is done, basting 4 or 5 times.
Microwave: For best results, choose sweet potatoes that do not vary in width from center to ends. Pierce washed sweet potatoes. Cook on low, turning each potato ½ turn halfway through cooking time. From 20-25 minutes
Baked Potato: Rub a little oil over clean and dry sweet potatoes for uniform size. Place on baking sheet and bake at 400 * F. 30 to 50 minutes, depending on size. Sweet potatoes that are greased before baking peel easily.
Boiled Sweet Potatoes: Drop clean sweet potatoes into enough boiling water to cover them, Cover the pan and return water to boiling as quickly as possible. Lower heat and cook until tender. Drain at once. Peel at once. Peel and season with butter and salt to taste. Use 1 medium sweet potato per person. Boiled sweet potatoes can be used for pies, cookies, and casseroles, glazed, candied or frozen.
French Fried Sweet Potatoes: Boil sweet potatoes for 10 minutes. Peel, if desired, and cut into ½ -inch strips. Heat oil to 365 F., cook until golden. Drain and sprinkle with salt, brown sugar or ground nutmeg.
Sweet Potatoes on the Grill: Wrap medium-b size sweet potatoes individually in heavy duty aluminum foil. Lace on grill, about 5 inches from coals. Cook for approximately 45 minutes or until tender. To hasten, boil 10 minutes before wrapping in foil a burying in coals.
Skillet Sweet Potatoes: In a large deep skillet, heat 1-1/2 inch deep vegetable oil to 365 F. Add sweet potato strips to cover bottom of skillet. Fry 5 minutes or until brown and tender. Remove from hot oil and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt or powdered sugar.