Sunday, October 10, 2010

More Sweet Potatoes

You've seen my Japanese and Garnet sweet potatoes (sometimes called Garnet "yam"). Here are two more:

The one on the left is a Jewel. The one on the right is a Beauregard. That's how they were labeled. I can't attest to the accuracy.

The Beauregard was new for me. Compared to the Jewel, it was less sweet and less moist. It was more like a cross between an Idaho baking potato and a sweet potato. (By the way, sweet potatoes are not technically potatoes, like Idaho or Red Bliss. Sweet potatoes are not part of the nightshade family.)

It's surprising how variable sweet potatoes are. And tasty! A fact their drab exteriors belie.

Here are the ones I've had and my take on them:

Sweet PotatoExteriorInteriorConsistencyTaste
JapaneseDeep violetVery light, like cream. Slight yellow cast.Very firm, the driest of the bunchStarchy-sweet, hard to define, not syrupy or candy-like
GarnetDark red, like wineDeep, vibrant orangeVery soft and moist, wetCane sugar-syrup sweet, although varies
JewelLight reddish tan, like copperLight orangeDrier than a Garnet, but moister than a waxy red-skinned new potatoLess syrupy than a Garnet, reminds me of potato used for traditional "candied yams"
BeauregardSlightly darker and redder than a JewelSlightly lighter than a JewelFirmer and less sweet than a JewelNot as sweet as a Jewel, starchier and drier than a Jewel
HamonLight beige, like a white boiling potatoLight yellowish beige, like a Yukon Gold potatoMoist and creamyNot too sweet, like a sweet-ish boiled white potato. Hint of the Japanese potato's unique flavor

The consistency depends on the cooking time and method. These consistencies represent a hour or two of slow roasting.

Potatoes vary even within types. I've had Japanese so dense and dry they reminded me of day-old pound cake.

The Hamon is the only one I haven't pictured yet.* It's also called a Jersey White. The first time I had it I wasn't impressed. It's like a sweet-ish boiled white potato. Now it's one of my favorite.

Do you eat sweet potatoes? Do you have a favorite?

* Oct 12 Update - Here's a Hamon I had lying around this morning:

Photo: Bix


Anonymous said...

To me the american sweet potatoes (orange flesh, brown skin) taste more like carrot ~pumpkin and the japanese ones taste more like chestnut mixed with normal potatoe... There has gotta be a huge nutritional difference between the two (american one I'm sure is richer in vitamin A and must have less starch) any idea on where to find nutritional info on the several types of Spotatoes?

Bix said...

Agree with your taste descriptions, especially the "chestnut." Agree too that the nutritional profiles must differ. I don't know a source for that info.

caulfieldkid said...


Does the nutritional value vary much within the sweet potato family? I just found the white variety this year. I assume they lack the beta-carotene of their cousins, but I was curious if there was any other major differences.


Bix said...

shaun ... nutritional value ... I bet it does, but how ... I don't really know. There's the variable of the soil the root is grown in too. So, two of the same, say, orange, potatoes can be very different nutritionally depending on the growing medium. The USDA data base, and programs like NutritionData provide estimates ... big, broad estimates (to one or two decimal places!)

If the potato is orange, it has carotenoids ... orange pigments that we can convert to vitamin A and/or use as antioxidants. Probably other things we use them for too.

But if a potato is white, or cream-colored, that doesn't mean its devoid of pigment. White vegetables contain white, or what our eye sees as colorless, pigments. Anthoxanthins I think they're called. These white pigments also act as antioxidants, probably do other things too (see quercetin below).

Pigments change color based on acid/alkaline environment. The red/blue pigment, anthocyanin, in e.g. red cabbage, turns red in acid (like vinegar) and blue in base. White pigment, anthoxanthin, in e.g. cauliflower, turns white in acid and yellow in base. (These are great lab experiments for children.)

The whitish-yellow pigment quercetin is found in apples and onions. Quercetin is showing promise in reducing inflammation and slowing cancer growth, at least in test tubes.

So, just because it's not orange doesn't mean it's not beneficial.