Sweet potatoes are in the morning glory family and native to North America. Sweet potatoes are grown in many parts and likely date back to prehistoric times, likely originating in Peru and Ecuador. In many parts of the world, sweet potatoes are grown for their edible leaves, as opposed to the sweet tubers with which we are more familiar in the U.S. Known as the “vegetable indispensable,” sweet potatoes were a main source of nutrition for early homesteaders and revolutionary soldiers. Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are often confused for yams (Dioscorea batatas) which are tubers of tropical vines more closely related to lilies and grasses than to sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes, especially orange and yellow sweet potatoes, are an excellent source of vitamin A in the form of beta carotene. Vitamin A is important for its role in eye health, as it improves night vision and decreases the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. Vitamin A also supports immune function and can help fight off infection. Sweet potatoes also provide high amounts of vitamin C, a nutrient that protects against damage from free radicals that cause cancer. As such, sweet potatoes can help prevent both chronic diseases and infections, thus promoting good health throughout life. One plain baked medium sweet potato has close to 4 grams of fiber and about 100 calories.
Storing & Cooking Information
Handling: Handle sweet potatoes carefully to prevent bruising. Wash before using. Cut off any brown spots before using.
Storing: Storage in a dry, unrefrigerated bin kept at 55-60 degrees F. is best. Do not refrigerate, because temperatures below 55 degrees F will chill this tropical vegetable giving it a hard core and an undesirable taste when cooked.
Freezing: Cooked sweet potatoes store well in an airtight container in the freezer.