Harvest of the Month: Sweet Potatoes

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Boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew.

Sweet potato season is here and I, for one couldn’t be happier. There are hundreds of varieties ranging from white, mild to deep orange, deep red, and even purple. Here in North Carolina, sweet potatoes are harvested between August  – November which makes this a prime time to find some local sweet potatoes to eat this week!

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A, fiber, potassium, iron and vitamin C. Did you know that one medium, skin-on sweet potato, contains 100% of your daily recommended amount of vitamin A? Vitamin A is an essential part of vision, bone development and immune function.

Don’t forget, carbohydrates are fuel! Sweet potatoes are made up of complex carbohydrates. When eaten, carbohydrates break down into glucose (sugar) – the body’s main energy source. When glucose is released into the bloodstream it signals the pancreas to make insulin, which helps move excess glucose (that isn’t needed right away for energy) into muscle cells. Glucose is the main source of fuel for your brain, central nervous system and muscles. That’s why skipping out on carbohydrates can make you feel sluggish.

Adding sweet potatoes into your weekly meals is a great way to incorporate more nutrients into your diet. Find some delicious recipes below, as well as how to safely preserve sweet potatoes.

Cooking

This chili has been in constant meal rotation at my house. It is so delicious and satisfying. It also stores well. I make a big batch on Sunday and eat it for lunch throughout the week:  Instant Pot Sweet Potato Chili 

chili

From Well Plated

With the holidays coming up, now is the perfect time to try out a new casserole recipe. This one comes from our “Med instead of Meds” program: Sweet Potato Casserole

Wanting a breakfast treat? Try these healthy whole grain muffins: Sweet Potato Muffins 

Canning Sweet Potatoes- Pieces or Whole

It is not recommended to dry pack sweet potatoes.

Quantity: An average of 17-1/2 pounds is needed per canner load of 7 quarts; an average of 11 pounds is needed per canner load of 9 pints. A bushel weighs 50 pounds and yields 17 to 25 quarts – an average of 2- 1/2 pounds per quart.

Quality: Choose small to medium-sized potatoes. They should be mature and not too fibrous. Can within 1 to 2 months after harvest.

Please read Using Pressure Canners before beginning. If this is your first time canning, it is recommended that you read Principles of Home Canning.

Procedure: Wash potatoes and boil or steam until partially soft (15 to 20 minutes). Remove skins. Cut medium potatoes, if needed, so that pieces are uniform in size. Caution: Do not mash or puree pieces. Fill jars, leaving 1-inch headspace. Add 1 teaspoon salt per quart to the jar, if desired. Cover with your choice of fresh boiling water or syrup, leaving 1-inch headspace.

Adjust lids and process following the recommendations in Table 1 and Table 2.

Table 1. Recommended process time for Sweet Potatoes in a dial-gauge pressure canner.
Canner Pressure (PSI) at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size Process Time 0-2,000 ft 2,001-4,000 ft 4,001-6,000 ft 6,001-8,000 ft
Hot Pints 65 min 11 lb 12 lb 13 lb 14 lb
Quarts 90 11 12 13 14
Table 2. Recommended process time for Sweet Potatoes in a weighted-gauge pressure canner.
Canner Pressure (PSI) at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size Process Time 0-1,000 ft Above 1,000 ft
Hot Pints 65 min 10 lb 15 lb
Quarts 90 10 15

Source: National Center for Home Food Preservation

Freezing Sweet Potatoes

Preparation – Choose medium to large sweet potatoes that have been cured for at least one week. Sort according to size and wash. Cook until almost tender in water, in steam, in a pressure cooker or in the oven. Let stand at room temperature until cool. Peel sweet potatoes, cut in halves, slice or mash.

If desired, to prevent darkening, dip whole sweet potatoes or slices for 5 seconds in a solution of 1/2 cup lemon juice to 1 quart water.

To keep mashed sweet potatoes from darkening, mix 2 tablespoons orange or lemon juice with each quart of mashed sweet potatoes.

Pack into containers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Seal and freeze.

Baked – Wash, trim and heat potatoes in oven at 350ºF without peeling until slightly soft. Cool, remove peel and wrap individually in aluminum foil. Place in polyethylene bags and freeze. Complete the baking in an oven at 350ºF immediately before serving, leaving the potatoes wrapped in foil.

Sources:

North Carolina Sweet Potatoes

National Center for Home Food Preservation 

Written By

Abigail Pierce, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionAbigail PierceExtension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences Call Abigail Email Abigail N.C. Cooperative Extension, Henderson County Center
Updated on Oct 31, 2023
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