Cultivation and harvest

Growing sweet potatoes

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 sweet potatoes, they mow the green vines above ground. To keep from damaging the sweet potatoes’ 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 sweet potatoes 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.

Süßkartoffel Schweden/Dänemark

Everything you need to know about sweet potatoes

How to choose sweet potatoes

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

How to store sweet potatoes

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 sweet potatoes in a cool dry place; the basement is a great spot.

Süßkartoffel Schweden/Dänemark

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 sweet potatoes with cold water.
  • The best way to cook them is with their skins on, which preserves as many of the nutrients as possible.
  • Cooked sweet potatoes 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

Sweet potatoes 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.

Süßkartoffel Schweden/Dänemark

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 sweet potatoes 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 sweet potatoes in salted water for 35-45 minutes.

Microwaving

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

Frying

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

Raw

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