The local farmstands and farmers’ markets that are still open may not have the summer favorites anymore, but sweet potatoes are in stock as its rise in popularity continues.
During World War II, sweet potatoes had a heyday, with about 3 billion pounds produced annually.
Since the war, white potatoes, particularly russets, became cheaper to grow and ship and took center stage in the side dish department.
But the sweet potato climbed its way back, thanks in part to its health benefits.
Popular diets crowned the tuber as a “superfood” packed with vitamins A, B6, C and potassium. It’s low in calories, high in fiber to support gut health and is a good source of complex carbohydrates and beta carotene.
In 2015, U.S. production passed the 3 billion pound mark.
According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, sweet potato consumption increased nearly 42 percent between 2000 and 2016, reaching 7.2 pounds per capita.
Like its many health benefits, sweet potatoes can be prepared in many ways; mashed, whipped, cubed, fried are just a few.
Food blogger Maria Lichty said she has made mashed sweet potatoes a mainstay at holiday meals.
“You can roast the sweet potatoes and then mash them, but I prefer to boil the sweet potatoes because the oven is always occupied on Thanksgiving and Christmas,” she said. “Plus, boiling the sweet potatoes is so easy and always creates creamy potatoes.
“I always peel the potatoes. If you like a chunkier mash, you can leave the skins on. After you boil the potatoes, make sure you drain them well in a colander. I like to use a potato masher to mash the sweet potatoes.
You can use a hand blender if you wish. You can also use a food processor if you want the sweet potatoes super smooth. For best results, mash with milk and butter. Season with salt.”
In here Two Peas and Their Pod blog, Lichty offers the typical flavoring ideas of candied or toasted pecans, maple syrup and cinnamon or nutmeg, but also suggests Parmesan, white cheddar or bleu cheese; chipotle peppers and chopped bacon as more creative options.