Monday, October 25, 2010

A Couple of Sweet Potato Queens

It seems The First Lady and I share some common ground… in the garden. Yes, we can both grow some ginormous sweet potatoes. I think it is safe to say, maybe even politically correct to imply we are a couple of Sweet Potato Queens, both a bit surprised at the size of our taters perhaps but proud none the less of our garden produce.
I planted a 4 x 8’ raised bed with sweet potato starts this year and was pleased at the amount of ‘Beauregard’ sweet potatoes that small area produced considering that I planted them in June and pretty much ignored them until September when I started sneaking a few here and there to cook for dinner and finally last week (Oct 25th) dug them all up, left them lay in the garden for a couple of hours then brushed off the extra soil and spread them out on a table in the garage out of direct sun to cure for a couple of weeks.
Sweet potatoes can deal with heat and less rain which was good this year since we had close to record breaking temperatures with near drought conditions mid to late summer.
I should have mounded soil up around the potatoes during the growing season as necessary but didn’t. A few tater tips were sticking up out of the soil and were a bit green. I will cut those ends off and not worry about it.
The vines grew out beyond their borders and I did trim them up a couple of times when they encroached on the strawberries. Geoff with CobraHead Tool Company lives in Austin, TX and told me he eats the sweet potato vines when he trims them. I had never heard of that and am excited to try it next summer. He says to blanch them first then sauté them in a little butter with salt and pepper. The moles did enjoy some of the fruits of MY labor as well, apparent on a few of the taters. Next year I will be more vigilant and proactive by using mole-ridding products - ‘I Must Garden Mole and Vole Repellant’ and ‘Liquid Fence Mole Repellent Worms’. I may also try placing chicken wire at the bottom of the raised bed – after all, it usually takes a village to control these tricky critters.

Sweet Potatoes pack a powerful punch when it comes to health. Dr. Robert Cordell claims that a sweet potato a day keeps the doctor away @ He continues…
“The sweet potato ranks extremely high in nutritional value according to the Center of Science in the Public Interest. The Center strongly recommends eating more sweet potatoes since a nutritious diet is one that is high in fiber, provides protein, Vitamins A, C, E, iron and calcium, is rich in complex carbohydrates, and low in fat.

More Fiber
The sweet potato is a good source of dietary fiber, which lowers the risk for constipation, diverticulosis, colon and rectal cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. The fiber in sweet potatoes provides a feeling of fullness and satiety, which helps to control food intake.

More Antioxidants
Antioxidants play a role in the prevention of heart disease and cancer, and sweet potatoes supply plenty of the antioxidants, vitamin E and beta-carotene. These substances are effective in neutralizing free radicals, which are responsible for damage to cell walls and cell structures. Vitamin E also protects against heart attack and stroke by reducing the harmful effects of low-density cholesterol and preventing blood clots.

Antioxidants are essential for good brain functioning and in delay in the effects of aging on the brain. A low level of vitamin E has been linked with memory loss. A Columbia University study showed a delay of about seven months in the progression of Alzheimer's disease when subjects consumed high levels of vitamin E. This fat-soluble vitamin is found mainly in high-fat foods such as oils, nuts, and avocados. Only the sweet potato provides vitamin E without the fat and calories.
Sweet potatoes contain 1,922 mcg - RAE of beta-carotene (vitamin A) in one cup, which is more than the USRDA. You would have to eat 16 cups of broccoli to consume the same amount of beta-carotene. Health professionals believe that carotenoids give protection from the formation of free radicals and are chemoprotective against cancer. “

So go ahead and enjoy sweet potatoes as often as you can. They are easy to prepare by baking, roasting, boiling or get creative and make soup, pies and fries – you are only limited by your imagination.

One of my favorite uses for the orange tuber is in soup - here is a recipe to try...

Cindy Sue’s Sweet Potato Soup

Sauté in heavy steel pan with 1 tablespoon of butter on low heat until tender:

1 large onion, chopped
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tart apple, peeled, seeded and chopped

Melt 2-3 Tablespoons butter in a large heavy stainless steel pot sautae onion, potatoes and apple until tender.

1 can chicken broth (15 oz)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon curry
1/8 to ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
½ Tablespoon fresh grated ginger root
Simmer on low until all is cooked (mushy)

Add 3 cups cream or milk, use a hand held blender to mix until desired creamy texture is achieved. Some small chunks are okay.


barbara wise said...

Can't wait to try this sweet tater soup! and going to try growing some taters next, too. You inspire me!

meemsnyc said...

Wow, those sweet potatoes are giant! I have to grow some next year. I didn't know that moles ate veggies. We have moles in our garden.

Anonymous said...

I have shared your sweet potato with a fellow gardening neighbor and posted it to my sustainability blog. Interest is growing in growing sweet potatoes.

I will try the ‘Beauregard’ variety in 2011; this could be a lot of fun.


PS I showed my copy of your "The Cracked Pot Herb Book" to a neighbor; wow, he is now planning on growing herbs for cooking and medicinal purposes for 2011!

Cindy Shapton said...

Thanks Barbara - AKA Lob, maybe you should incorporate some sweet taters in your hanging summer containers :)

Cindy Shapton said...

Sorry for the bad news Sue, those rascally moles love sweet taters, can't say that I blame them though but with a little planning you can foil their dastardly tuber raids! Or at least slow them down :)

Cindy Shapton said...

thanks Anonymous (sorry don't know your name), so glad you shared with your neighbor -

Please share your blog address, I would love to read it!

All the best with your future crop of sweet taters:)

patrica said...

Gleason, Tennessee is THE sweet potato capital of the USA. All the sweet potatoes sold by the major catalogs are grown in Gleason by the Sanders family @ Steele Plant Company. Of all the potatoes they grow which is virtually every variety known to the cultivated market, for their personal use they raise the Centennial. As do I. The Centennial should be harvested 90 days after planting as they will get enormous, however, despite that they are sweet, tender, never stringy and the flavor far surpasses all other sweet potato varieties.
Trish Lewis
Humboldt, Tennessee

Cindy Shapton said...

Thanks Trish, what great information, Centennial, eh? I'm in, would love to try these, where is the best place to get Centennial potatoes or the slips?
cindy :)