© Denzil Green
Sweet potatoes are the storage roots of a plant that is part of the morning glory family.
Sweet potatoes aren't actually even related to Yams. Sweet potatoes aren't actually related to potatoes, for that matter. Potatoes are tubers of a plant, whereas sweet potatoes are engorged storage roots.
Sweet potatoes, however, are shaped like potatoes, and are about the same size, but instead of rounded ends, their ends will often be slightly or very tapered. The skin is pretty much tan-coloured, though sometimes this will range to pinkish or coppery. Some will have white flesh inside, some will have purply flesh, but most often the ones that have yellow or orange flesh are preferred as this indicates the presence of carotene (which the body can convert to vitamin A as needed.) sweet potatoes thrive in hot, moist climates.
You can grow potatoes by cutting out and planting a portion that has an "eye" (bud) in it. Sweet potatoes never produce "eyes." They will sprout if you put one in a glass of water, but won't do much of anything other than moulder away if you bury one in the ground.
White sweet potatoes
© Denzil Green
In the southern states, though, sweet potatoes are also used as livestock feed, something that northerners wouldn't do owing to the premium they still fetch at markets.
Sweet potatoes are usually cured after harvesting. The curing involves being stored for about 5 days at 30 C (85 F); this dries them out a bit, to preserve their storage life, and converts some of the starch to sugar, making them sweeter. Sweet potatoes taste best when allowed to age for at least a month after harvesting before use (as sugar starts to form immediately afterward.)
Sweet potatoes are still generally regarded as a festive food for holidays, though sweet potato growers are doing their best to make consumers think of them as do people in the southern United States, for whom they are more of an everyday staple.
When buying sweet potatoes, don't pay much attention to the appearance of the skin. Don't buy any, though, that have blotchy white areas; they have probably been damaged and are decaying. To pick a good one, heft it in your hand, and see that it feels heavy for its size.
There is a lot of confusion between what is a sweet potato and what is a yam. Sweet potatoes are often labelled as yams at produce counters. Unless what you're buying in your supermarket is canned and says "yams", or is a big, big chunk of root cut off of a bigger root and wrapped in plastic, then what you're buying is a sweet potato, no matter what the sign posted on the vegetable counter says.
Sweet Potatoes contain apparently more vitamin A than any other vegetable.
On Weight Watchers, sweet potatoes and yams cost points, while squash is free.
* PointsPlus™ calculated by CooksInfo.com. Not endorsed by Weight Watchers® International, Inc, which is the owner of the PointsPlus® registered trademark.
1 cup mashed, plain = 325g = 11 1/2 oz by weight
1 kg sweet potato, unpeeled = 930g sweet potato, peeled = 8 cups of peeled, uncooked sweet potato fries
Freezing: Wash. Boil, bake, steam or microwave until just about tender. Let stand until cool. Peel. Then mash, slice, or chop into chunks. Package and freeze. Optional: drizzle and toss cooked sweet potato with a small amount of lemon juice before freezing to prevent any darkening.
They were being grown in Virginia in the early half of the 1600s, and by 1764 were being grown in New England. People in Virginia were so fond of sweet potatoes, that in the mid 1800s they were served for dessert.
Literature & Lore
 Of the large number of varieties of the sweet potato there are not more than ten that are now of great commercial importance in the United States. For the markets that require a dry, mealy-fleshed potato those varieties belonging to the Jersey group are suitable. For the Southern trade and where a moist-fleshed potato is desired those commonly designated as yams are in demand. Among the Jerseys that are extensively grown are the Big-Stem Jersey, the Yellow Jersey, and the Red Jersey. The principal varieties of the yam group are the Southern Queen, the Pumpkin Yam, the Georgia, the Florida, and the Red Bermuda. Of the varieties mentioned there are a large number of special strains known under many local names. In the selection of varieties for home use one must be governed largely by locality. As a rule those of the Jersey group will thrive farther north than those of the so-called yam types." -- Grubb, Eugene H. and W.S. Guilford. "The Sweet Potato. Part 3". In: The Potato: A Compilation of Information from Every Available Source. Doubleday, Page & Company. 1912.
"In North America, sweet potato is commercially grown in southern states of USA, particularly North Carolina and Louisiana....In Canada, sweet potato is grown commercially in Ontario, Quebec and in recent years is making in-roads in Maritime farms and gardens. Depending upon the sweet potato variety, of which there are about 400, its flesh may be white, yellow or orange and its thin skin may be white, yellow, orange, red or purple. Sometimes this root vegetable will be shaped like a potato, being short and blocky with rounded ends, while other times it will be longer with tapered ends. Though orange flesh/orange skin varieties are most common in [the] Maritimes, purple skin/orange flesh and white skin/white flesh varieties are becoming available through regional grocery retailers and farm markets." -- Canada: Growing sweet potatoes in the Maritimes. Halifax, Nova Scotia. Atlantic Farm focus Magazine. 8 June 2007.
North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission. Commercial Growing Information. Section 1: Choosing a Variety. Retrieved December 2009 from http://www.ncsweetpotatoes.com/component/content/64.html?task=view
Sweet Potatoes: Easy to Grow, Good to Eat. Ottawa, Canada: Farm Radio International. Package 32, Script 1. April 1994.
Sweet PotatoesJapanese Yams; Okinawan Sweet Potatoes; Sweet Potatoes; White Sweet Potatoes; Yaki-Imo
Please share this information with your friends. They may love it.