Valley Bounty: Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes are, technically speaking, not yams. Yams are large starchy tubers in the family Dioscoreaceae and are grown and eaten predominantly in Africa. Sweet potatoes are, also technically speaking, not potatoes. Potatoes belong to the family Solanaceae with other nightshades like tomatoes and eggplant, while sweet potatoes belong to the ‘Morning Glory’ family Convolvulaceae, whose other prominent edible member (called ‘water spinach’ and ‘swamp cabbage’, among other names) is most often seen in Asian cuisine.

Despite this taxonomic division, potatoes and sweet potatoes do often converge when it comes to preparation method: mashing, frying, and roasting are common applications for both. But the sweet potato’s higher sugar content allows it to dwell in one place that white potatoes dare not tread: dessert. Much like pumpkin pie, homemade sweet potato pie simply requires roasting peeled sweet potatoes until soft, combining with eggs (x2), milk (usually about a cup), sugar (about a half cup), and spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove are usually my choices), and baking in a pie crust until the filling is firm enough to slice. Since sweet potatoes are natural sweeter than pumpkins, I find I can usually get away with less added sugar than I would use in a pumpkin pie.

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)