By Farmer Cass Fraunfelder
It is the big harvest time of the year. Over the last five weeks, we have been rolling sweet potatoes out of the soil. They have been growing for the last 90 to 105 days. Sweet potato plants like hot weather and not a lot of watering, so we are in the right place!
At Finch Farm, we grew four varieties of sweet potatoes this year:
- The O’Henry, which is white
skinned and has a white flesh.
- The Murasaki, which is referred
to by many as the Japanese Sweet. It has purple skin and white flesh.
- Then there is the Beauregard,
which is grown more than any other variety. It has a light-pink skin and orange flesh.
- And lastly is the Carolina Ruby,
which has red skin and very bright orange flesh.
All four sweet-potato varieties have produced very well for us over the last several years.
Usually we grow between 6,000 and 8,000 plants. Our sweet potatoes have become very popular in Atlanta restaurants, so this year has intentionally been the biggest production year we have ever had: We started 23,000 plants and expect a healthy harvest.
I really don’t think we are going to run out until next June.
The sweet potato is a staple in Southern cooking all year round. We typically see them more around the holidays.
The sweet potato plant itself belongs to the Morning Glory family, which includes more than 1,000 species of flowering plants. We eat the roots of the sweet potato plant, and they are very good for our bodies. Sweets are super high in vitamin A and vitamin B-6. They are rich in potassium as well. In many cases eating sweet potatoes will meet our vitamin A needs up to nearly 90 percent daily. Sweets are also high in vitamin C and Biotin.
Sweet potatoes have become a staple in our farm kitchen year-round.
We have learned so many new recipes.
We mix pureed sweets with polenta for our shrimp and grits.
We also really enjoy Chef Bobby Flay’s recipe for spicy chipotle scalloped sweet potato casserole. We end up licking the 9-by-13 pan when the potatoes are gone! (To find the recipe, visit www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay/smoked-chile-scalloped-sweet-potatoes-recipe.html.)
We have dehydrated chips in our dehydrator, too.
All in all, the sweet potato is one of the best nutritional foods on the planet.
As I said before, we put in 23,000 plants this year – for a reason!
The chefs now call Farmer Cass “Mr. Potatohead.” Eat more sweet potatoes! God Bless.