Sweet Potatoes are one of those vegetables I never liked until I started growing it. Turns out, the orange and purple varieties are super nutritious due to high amounts of anti-oxidants. Eat your colors they say.
“Sweet potatoes with orange flesh are richest in beta-carotene. Sweet potatoes with purple flesh are richer in anthocyanins. Beta-carotene and anthocyanins are naturally occurring plant “phyto” chemicals that give vegetables their bright colors. These phytochemicals are researched for their potential role in human health and disease prevention.” Harvard School of Public Health
Potatoes and sweet potatoes are similar – both tubers – but of different species. Potatoes are in the Nightshade family which include tomatoes. Sweet potatoes are in the Morning glory family which includes the namesake, colorful, vining ornamental.
Both are not grown from seed. A “seed” potato is the potato itself that is saved from the previous harvest and planted whole or in sections, eyes up.
Sweet potatoes are grown from slips. Slips are the leafy green growths that form on the side.
1. Go to your local farmer’s market and choose a bruise-free sweet potato (smaller is better).
2. Stick toothpicks into the sides and place into a glass of water. New growth will take about 4 weeks to appear. Once the growth is around 4 inches gently remove it from the sweet potato and place the bottom into a few inches of water.
3. Once the slip creates roots it is ready to be planted. They like loose nutritious soil and a little fertilizer early on.
Thomas Jefferson’s Sweet Potato Biscuits
Founding Father Thomas Jefferson was not only a statesman, diplomat and third President of the United States, he was also one heck of a gardener. See Thomas Jefferson’s Legacy in Gardening and Food.
This recipe is from the National Constitution Center (NCC), Philadelphia PA. According to the NCC, Thomas Jefferson’s biscuits were served at the first meeting of the First Continental Congress in 1774 and are served today at the famous City Tavern (built in 1773) located in Philadelphia’s historic district at 2nd and Walnut Streets.
1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, cut in small pieces
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sweet potato, mashed (about 1 large Virginia Sweet Potato)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Combine the dry ingredients. Add butter with a fork, food processor or pastry cutter until the texture is small crumbs.
Combine milk and sweet potatoes. Add to flour mixture. Add pecans.
Knead dough with your hands until it is a smooth mass. Roll out on a floured surface to 1/2″ thickness and cut with a 2″ biscuit cutter.
Place on a greased baking sheet 2″ apart.
Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until lightly browned.