Sweet Potatoes Galore!

Last week, MrHran across a post on a Facebook group he follows. A local food bank had just received a very generous donation – an entire truckload of sweet potatoesAnyone in the community was invited to take some – “bring your own bag.”

So Friday afternoon, as Hurricane Matthew chewed its way up the coast toward us, Christoph stopped by and filled a plastic grocery bag with sweet potatoes.

The potatoes were all different sizes and a few had gotten damp, so Saturday morning I spread them on newspaper to dry and sorted them by size. The bounty:

  • 2 great big potatoes
  • 11 medium potatoes
  • 29 itty-bitty potatoes

Sunday, when the worst of the storm had passed and we were sure the power would stay on, I went looking for ways to cook this bonanza.

I was most worried about the little potatoes. I’d always been told to peel sweet potatoes, but peeling these suckers sounded like a lot of work for not much potato!

Not to worry. A Google search for “How to cook fingerling sweet potatoes” produced plenty of recipes, all of which said not to peel. Whew!

I settled on this recipe, cut up ten little potatoes and oiled and salted the slices, then hovered over the oven to turn the potatoes every few minutes as instructed. When the disks were fork-tender, I dotted the potatoes with butter and put the pan back in for another minute or two to melt the butter and blend the flavors.

It tasted amazing!

The flavor was smoky, buttery, salty, with the distinct note of sweet potatoe shining through. The skins were a bit chewy on one or two slices, but no more so than the skin of a russet potato, and I’ve eaten plenty of them in my time. In retrospect, I was probably a little zealous about turning the potatoes – next time I’ll flip less frequently.

Okay, now I knew what to do with the little potatoes. This left me with the question of what to do with the large and medium ones.

I gave a couple of the mediums to a friend, which still left us a gracious plenty!

Wednesday night I microwaved the two large potatoes until they were tender, peeled away as much of the skin as I could while they were still hot, and mashed them with a little butter. I added cinnamon, nutmeg, and a good helping of brown sugar.

The result was delicious again, in a completely different way. My son suggested that adding some milk would have resulted in a creamier texture, which is probably true, but I liked them just fine as they were. And the two potatoes were enough for the four of us, though I wouldn’t have minded a bit more.

Saving some for later

I was left with nine medium and nineteen small potatoes – and a new dilemma. I didn’t want my family to burn out on sweet potatoes ,and I didn’t want the remainder to go bad before I could use them.

The internet reports that cooked sweet potatoes can be frozen whole, in chunks or slices, or mashed (pdf). Most sources recommend treating pieces with a lemon juice or ascorbic acid solution or stirring a bit of lemon juice into mashed sweet potatoes to prevent discoloration.

Yesterday I microwaved the medium sweet potatoes in two batches, cooled them until I could pick them up easily, and peeled them. I mashed the pieces as I had the night before, with butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves and some brown sugar

Finally, as directed, I stirred in a couple tablespoons of lemon juice. I was concerned about how this would affect the flavor, but if anything, it brightened it.

I froze most of the mashed sweet potatoes, but kept out a portion to try The Cookie Writer’s recipe for Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I didn’t follow the recipe to the letter – I eyeballed the peanut butter rather than fuss with a cup, and I didn’t add maple syrup since I’d already sweetened the potatoes. The first batch baked up into round balls, so I flattened the second slightly with my fingers as I laid them out. Both baked up fine, though the balls were a little less crumbly.

The flavor was great, though the texture was soft and not what I’m used to in a cookie. Best of all, MrH got to enjoy them, since they didn’t contain any gluten.

So Many Possibilities…

This leaves nineteen tiny sweet potatoes awaiting my attention.

I’m inclined to roast them, as that worked out so well. Since the surfaces are oiled and salted, I don’t think I’d need to worry about discoloration. Or would I? Anyone know?

And that will be the end of our sweet potato bonanza. But there are so many things to try…

I’d kind of like to try candied or glazed sweet potatoes, too, and find a recipe for that mashed sweet potato casserole with crispy rice cereal and marshmallows. And sweet potato pie! I read that sweet potatoes can be substituted in recipes that call for winter squash and pumpkin, which opens up even more possibilities.

I think I’m going to need more sweet potatoes. And a bigger freezer…

What about you? Are you a sweet potato fan? Got a favorite sweet potato recipe? Feel free to, er, dish in the comments.