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Sweet potato (lat.Ipomoéa batátas) is not a direct relative of the potato, however, due to the similar appearance of the tubers, it is often called sweet potato. The taste of the fruits of this culture is really sweet, which indicates the presence of a large amount of sugars in it. This vegetable has a number of useful properties that allow you to use it as a valuable food product.
What is sweet potato and how does it look
Sweet potato is a herbaceous plant with creeper-shaped creeper stems reaching 5 m in length. Lying on the soil surface, they take root in internodes, which is why at the end of the vegetative period it is difficult to understand where the center of the bush is located. The total height of the plants is about 18 cm above the soil surface.
Sweet potato leaf blades, depending on the variety, can be heart-shaped or ivy (palmate-lobed). They are attached to the stem on long thin stalks. Sweet potato blooms with beautiful funnel-shaped flowers of lilac, pink, pale lilac or white. They are located in the axils of the leaves. Some varieties of plants do not have flowers.
The root system of the sweet potato is branched, superficial. The lateral processes of the roots grow, forming tubers, covered with a thin grayish, pink, red or orange skin (this depends on the variety) and the same bright color flesh. The mass of tubers under favorable conditions can reach 3 kg.
Nutritional value of sweet potato and its benefits
Sweet potato tubers are a real storehouse of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and other chemical compounds useful for the human body. In addition to ascorbic acid, thiamine, carotene, riboflavin and iron, tubers contain proteins, starches and sugars. It also includes the following components:
- fiber, useful for the digestive and circulatory system (reduces cholesterol);
- an analogue of the hormone progesterone, which the body needs of women in the menopause;
- calcium needed to strengthen bone tissue;
- cryptoxanthines that positively affect the state of bone and cartilage in arthritis.
Potato is superior to potatoes in calories and vitamins and minerals. Another advantage is the ability to use tubers both raw and boiled.
Sweet Potato: Sweet Potato
Damage to sweet potato
Despite the high rates of benefits, sweet potato can be harmful to people suffering from kidney stones of a malignant form. Often, eating his tubers, even by healthy people, can cause kidney stones to form. And here the high content of starches and sugars practically does not affect the glycemic index of dishes, therefore this vegetable is not harmful for patients with diabetes mellitus.
Popular yam varieties
Conventionally, all varieties of sweet potato can be divided into three groups:
The first group includes plants whose tubers have a slightly watery structure and a slightly pronounced sweetness. The flesh of these varieties is colored white or cream. Dessert sweet potato varieties - the sweetest and most fragrant (reminiscent of the taste and smell of melon or bananas). Their flesh is colored red or orange. Sweet potato is sweet and its flesh is colored pink or yellow.
The following popular varieties of this culture are most often grown on sites.
|Grade name||Group||Description of tubers||Note|
|White bouquet||Stern||The skin on the tubers is light, most often cream, the flesh is white. The taste resembles a raw chestnut.||A high-yielding variety, the weight of one tuber often exceeds 4 kg.|
|Brazilian||Stern||The skin and pulp of root vegetables is white, the taste is unexpressed, slightly watery, the texture is dense.||Productivity is high, little dependent on weather conditions. The average weight of the tuber is 2-4 kg.|
|Amish red||Dessert||The skin is red or intensely pink, the flesh is orange-red, richly sweet with a melon aroma.||High yielding variety. The average weight of one tuber is 1.5 kg.|
|Beuregarde||Vegetable||The skin is red or orange, the flesh is intense orange. The texture is slightly watery, the aroma and taste are poorly expressed.||High yielding resistant variety. The average weight of root crops is 4-6 kg.|
|California gold||Vegetable||Peel and flesh of intense orange color. The taste is sweet, the aroma is weak.||Productivity is high. The tubers are long, weighing up to 2 kg each.|
|Japanese||Vegetable||The peel and flesh of the tubers are pale orange, the taste and aroma are moderate.||Very early crop variety. The mass of tubers does not exceed 2 kg.|
|Korean purple||Dessert||The skin is dark purple, the flesh is white, very sweet and fragrant.||The average yield, the weight of tubers is an average of 1-3 kg.|
|Old Fashioned South Queen||Vegetable||The skin is light gray or white, the flesh is creamy pink.||The average yield, the weight of tubers is small, does not exceed 1.5 kg.|
Almost all varieties of sweet potato can be grown in the middle lane. Even with maturity periods above average, they manage to form quite strong tubers that can be stored for 6 months.
Sweet potato is very thermophilic, and its growing season exceeds the same rates for potatoes. That is why in Russia this culture is grown in seedlings. To do this, in the middle of February or the end of January, healthy tubers are selected and placed closer to the light, providing moisture (you can use cans or other containers for this, on the same principle as for forcing onions onto a feather).
After the emergence of sprouts and their growth by 10-15 cm, you can gently separate the planting material from the tubers and plant them in separate peat pots with a sand-humus mixture. The height of the containers for planting should be large - at least 15 cm. At the same time, the tuber is capable of releasing new processes for propagation, therefore it is left in a jar of water.
Young sweet potato plants are planted in the soil when the soil temperature reaches 18-20 degrees. At the same time, rooted cuttings are buried in the ground by 2 internodes. The distance between each plant should be at least 30 cm, and between rows - at least 70 cm.
If the air temperature drops below 20 degrees, it is recommended to cover the plantings with a film or non-woven material. Otherwise, there is a risk of a decrease in the crop or its complete absence. Watering is carried out regularly, 2-3 times a month. 10-14 days before harvesting, it is important to stop it altogether so as not to provoke damage to tubers.
Throughout the summer, it is important to constantly maintain the soil around the sweet potato in a loose state. To do this, 2-3 times a week you need to go through the rows with a hoe or a special cultivator. Along the way, weeds can be removed, which often inhibit the growth of sweet potatoes.
You may also be interested in an article in which we talk about technology for growing potatoes in bags.
How to cook sweet potato
Sweet potato is a more versatile plant than the same potato. It is used for desserts, first and second courses, as well as a snack. From it you can cook candied fruits, preserves, mashed potatoes and even pies.
For example, to make delicious sweet potato donuts (a traditional Korean dish), 350 g of boiled, peeled and mashed tubers of a plant, a third of a glass of wheat flour and 2 glasses of rice, a third glass of sugar and a glass of milk (hot) will be required. For this dish you will need salt, in the amount of a teaspoon, and half a spoon of baking powder, frying oil and cinnamon powder for sprinkling ready-made donuts.
The products are mixed and balls are formed from the resulting dough, which are deep-fried until a blush appears. Then the donuts are allowed to dry from the oil, and then they are rolled in a mixture of powder and cinnamon.
An equally interesting dessert is obtained from fried sweet potatoes, which are first steamed and then cut in half lengthwise, pulled out a piece of pulp, mashed it and mixed with egg yolks, honey, a little milk and butter. Then the mixture is placed back into the "boat" of sweet potato and baked in a very preheated oven for 15 minutes.
An excellent snack is obtained from raw sweet potato seasoned with chopped garlic or onions, chili peppers and herbs, vegetable oil or sour sauce made from sour cream or mayonnaise with lemon juice.
Soup based on vegetable or chicken broth is also prepared from sweet potato, adding tubers instead of potatoes. It is important to choose sweet potato vegetable varieties without a pronounced sweet aftertaste. If this is not the case, then you can add more spices and herbs to the soup, including basil, spicy curry, nutmeg, celery and ground pepper.
How to grow yam
Sweet potato is a very valuable plant that has not been fully appreciated in many countries. However, its nutritional value far exceeds that of potatoes and other vegetables, and cultivation does not require much effort.