About Sweet Potatoes

Varieties of Sweet Potatoes

There are hundreds of sweet potato varieties that can be divided into five (5) basic types:

  • Orange skin with orange flesh

  • Red skin with orange flesh

  • Yellow skin with white flesh

  • Purple skin with white flesh

  • Purple skin with purple flesh

Each variety will have a unique flavor and texture.  Select the variety that works best for your recipe.

How to Select Sweet Potatoes

Look for firm sweet potatoes that are free from signs of decay. Because they are more perishable than white potatoes, extra care should be used in selecting sweet potatoes. Select similar sized sweet potatoes for more uniform cooking.

How to Store Sweet Potatoes

Fresh Sweet Potatoes

Avoid storing sweet potatoes in the refrigerator, which will produce a hard center and unpleasant taste.

Instead, store sweet potatoes in a cool, dry, well ventilated container and away from heat sources.

Sweet potatoes can store for up to two weeks, if stored properly.

Freezing Sweet Potatoes

Start by cooking sweet potatoes – wash, peel and boil until tender.

Slice or mash sweet potatoes and add a small amount of lemon juice to preserve color. 

Let cool and place in an airtight container or heavy duty freezer bag.

Sweet potatoes may be frozen for up to one year before use. 

Cooking Methods

There are several ways to cook sweet potatoes. First, scrub skins, trim ends and cut out bruised spots. For best results, use stainless steel knife as carbon blades may cause the sweet potato to darken.

Bake: Prick several times with a fork and bake at 400° F for 40 to 50 minutes or until tender.

Microwave: Prick several times and microwave on high power for 4 to 6 minutes or until tender. Turn halfway through cooking time. For more than one, select sweet potatoes similar in size and increase cooking time.

Steam: In a steamer, bring 1 1/2-inches of water to a boil.  Place whole, unpeeled sweet potatoes in steamer basket, cover and steam for 40 to 50 minutes or until tender. To shorten cooking time to 30 minutes, peel and cut into 1-inch cubes.

Boil: Place whole sweet potatoes in boiling water and cook until tender, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Sauté: Peel and cut into 1/4- to 1/2-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.

Fry: Peel and cut into lengthwise strips about 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. Place in oil that has been heated to 365° F. Fry until brown and tender. Remove from oil and drain on paper towel.

Grill: Slice lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place on grill. Turn once. Remove when tender.

Fresh: 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.

Fun Facts About Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes (scientific name lpomoea batatas) are often called “yams” in the United States.  However, true yams (Dioscorea sp.) are starchy edible roots that are white in color and have tough skin, which makes them difficult to peel.

Sweet potatoes grow under the soil while their leaves grow above the ground. 

Important Websites About Sweet Potato Nutrition

USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference

USDA National Nutrient Database – Sweet Potato – search for nutritional contents of various sweet potato products.

FAO – Roots, tubers, plantains and bananas in human nutrition – analysis of nutritive value of sweet potatoes and other staple crops.

Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) – a pro-nutrition advocacy group whose analysis of the relative nutritional value of common vegetables showed sweet potato to be the Number One vegetable for nutrition

“Sweet Potato Ranks #1 in Nutrition by CSPI”

 “Sweet Potatoes Pack a Powerful Punch!”

North Carolina Sweet Potato Nutrition – tabulated nutrient contents of the sweet potato.

Dr. Decuypere’s Nutrient Charts™ ~ Vegetables Chart – shows nutrient contents of sweet potatoes and other favorite fruits and vegetables.

Healthy Eating – The Diet Channel – Sweet Potatoes — one of 10 Best ‘Superfoods’; site also includes a library of children’s nutrition articles