Selecting Sweet Potatoes

The sweet potatoes in supermarkets are either the moist, orange-fleshed type or the dry, yellow-fleshed variety that resemble baking potatoes in texture. The orange variety has a thicker, more colorful skin, with bright orange flesh. It is much sweeter and moister than other varieties.

Despite their hardy appearance, bruises or cuts will spoil a sweet potato.
Despite their hardy appearance, bruises or cuts will spoil a sweet potato

Look for potatoes that are small to medium in size, with smooth, unbruised skin. Avoid any with a white stringy "beard," a sure sign the potato is overmature and probably tough. Though sweet potatoes look hardy, they're actually quite fragile and spoil easily. Any cut or bruise on the surface quickly spreads, ruining the whole potato. Do not refrigerate them; it speeds up the deterioration.

Tips for Preparing and Serving Sweet Potatoes

To cook sweet potatoes, boil unpeeled. Leaving the peel intact prevents excessive loss of precious nutrients and "locks" in its natural sweetness. The dry, yellow variety can be used in just about any recipe that calls for white potatoes. The darker, sweeter varieties are typically served at Thanksgiving. Try them mashed, in a souffle, or in traditional Southern sweet-potato pie.

In the next section, we'll explain the many health benefits of sweet potatoes.

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