Silly Food Fact
As a famous scientist in the early 1900s, George Washington Carver invented over 100 uses of the sweet potato: synthetic rubber, glue for postage stamps, and starch for cotton fabrics—to name a few. Other experimenters have combined sweet potato juice with lime juice to create a dye for cloth; artisans have used sweet potatoes in ceramics; and, currently, researchers are considering biofuel options. All this from a simple root vegetable!
Why Our Bodies Love It
Sweet potatoes are both economical and nutritious. One baked sweet potatoes provides a huge amount of vitamin A, which is linked to good vision and healthy skin. These potatoes also offer plenty of fiber, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and potassium—all valuable for healthy hearts, strong immune systems, and stabilizing blood sugar levels.
Learn how to cook sweet potatoes with the skin on to maximize their health benefits:
Care and Picking
Sweet potatoes grow from “slips”—cuttings from sweet-potato plants. Plant them in loose, well-drained soil. Luckily, sweet potatoes are undemanding; once established, they don’t need a lot of water or fertilizer and have few pests. As a root vegetable, you’ll dig up the potatoes about 100 days from planting, and then let them cure in a warm, dark area for 2 weeks. After that, they can keep for weeks in a dry, cool place.
Tips and Warnings
Are sweet potatoes different from yams? Yes! They actually aren’t even in the same vegetable family. The confusion started in the 1950s when bright orange sweet potatoes were developed. To distinguish this new variety, they were wrongly labeled “yams.” (Outside the U.S., yams are correctly identified as a completely different vegetable.) The pale yellow sweet potato is drier and less sweet than the orange variety (the one often called a yam). Remember, to prevent a hard core and bad taste, don’t refrigerate sweet potatoes.
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