Know your sweetpotato – North Carolina Sweet Potatoes

Cultivation and harvest

Growing sweetpotatoes

North Carolina growers plant thousands of young plants between mid-May and late June. The rows of plants grow and flourish during the warm summer months, creating long winding vines above ground and elongated orange-colored roots underground.

Hand-harvested

The harvest begins in the first half of September. Before farmers uproot the sweetpotatoes, they mow the green vines above ground. To keep from damaging the sweetpotatoes’ thin skins, they are harvested by hand and carefully placed in buckets which are later emptied into wooden storage bins.

In season all year round

Only one-fifth of the harvest goes directly to market. The rest is kept in large wooden containers in climate-controlled storage sheds. This helps the sweetpotatoes maintain their ideal quality, and they can be stored for up to twelve months without affecting their flavor or consistency. As a result, they are available year-round.

North Carolina Sweet Potatoes

Everything you need to know about sweetpotatoes

How to choose sweetpotatoes

Look for sweetpotatoes that are firm and have an even deep-orange color — they have the most nutrients and are good and sweet.

How to store sweetpotatoes

Please don’t put them in the fridge! If there’s one thing these southern roots don’t like, it’s being cold. It makes them turn hard and tough in the middle.

Simply store your sweetpotatoes in a cool dry place; the basement is a great spot.

North Carolina Sweet Potatoes

Other tips:

  • To enjoy them at their peak, it’s best to eat them within 1-2 weeks of when you buy them.
  • To prevent brown discoloration when you cut them, rinse the sweetpotatoes with cold water.
  • The best way to cook them is with their skins on, which preserves as many of the nutrients as possible.
  • Cooked sweetpotatoes freeze well. Just wrap them unpeeled in aluminum foil, put them in a freezer bag, and take them out when you need them.

How to prepare them

sweetpotatoes go with almost everything. You can combine them with pork, chicken, turkey, beef, lamb and other kinds of meat. They are fantastic in stews, soups and salads. You can use them to make breads, cakes, pies and even pudding. And unlike potatoes, they are even delicious raw!

They are a perfect match for ingredients like orange juice and zested orange peel, rum, bourbon, ginger, brown sugar, maple syrup, raisins and pecans.

North Carolina Sweet Potatoes

Baking

Prick several holes in the skin of the sweetpotato with a fork and bake whole at 200-220°C / 400-425°F in the oven until soft.

Steaming

Place the whole unpeeled sweetpotatoes in the basket and steam until done, approximately 40-50 minutes. If they are peeled and cubed, the cooking time drops to around 30 minutes.

Boiling

Depending on their size, boil peeled sweetpotatoes in salted water for 35-45 minutes.

Microwaving

Prick whole unpeeled sweetpotatoes with a fork several times and microwave at the highest setting for four to six minutes.

Frying

Cook the sweetpotatoes for ten minutes, peel and slice into strips. Fry until golden brown in hot oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Raw

Slice the sweetpotatoes into sticks and dip in applesauce or yogurt sauce.