Sweet, Sweet Potatoes — Taste Test and Selection

We’re selecting a sweet potato to cultivate in our garden this year. Our first step is a taste test and side-by-side comparison of the different varieties available to us here. We’ll follow along on the blog here, starting with our selection. All of our sweet potatoes are USDA Organic. Although there are currently no GMO sweet potatoes on the market, we try to avoid GMOs for a legal reason: GMOs are patented and we like to save seeds and regrow from last year’s crops. It would be illegal to grow GMO varieties to which we hold no license (this is antithetical to the institute’s ethos anyway).

Beauregard Variety

This is a newer variety, released in 1987 from Louisiana State University. It is high yielding and resistant to some pests and rot (source).

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Garnet Variety

These are supposed to be closer to the regular potato: less sweet, good for mashing (source).

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Jewel Variety

Developed by North Carolina State University, the Jewel variety has also been bred for resistance to pests and production (source). Unfortunately it needs 120–135 days for maximum yield, which might be too long for our northern climate.

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Japanese Variety

These ended up being Murasaki sweet potatoes (thanks to the folks at Proffer Produce for entertaining my phone call). They have a longer grow period — 120 days — with distinctive purple skin and white flesh and some resistance (source). I don’t know if they were handled more roughly, but they had more bruises and felt softer, which might be an indication that we should pick another one for winter storage.

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The Taste Test

I cubed up one sweet potato from each variety. Half of the potato got olive oil, salt, and pepper before being put in a 325ºF oven on a cookie sheet. The other half of the potato was put in a pot of boiling water. Both were cooked until soft; about 25 minutes. The boiled sweet potatoes were mashed with butter, salt, and pepper.

You can see the informal video below for our taste test, but in sum (because the video is just us chatting about potatoes for a few minutes), the Beauregards were sweetest and the Jewels were the second. The Garnets were the least flavorful. The Japanese made the smoothest mash and most potato-like fries. It depends what you like, but for us, we’ll probably go with the Beauregards because we’ll have regular potatoes as well, so we can just use those when we want fried potatoes and smooth mash. Also, the Jewels might take too long to grow in our northern climate.

Informal Video – No. 001 – Sweet Potato Taste Test from Low Technology Institute.

Other Resources

Sweet Potato History – NPR
Yams vs. Sweet Potatoes – Mark’s Daily Apple
Sweet Potato Varieties – Sweetpotatoes.com
Grow Sweet Potatoes, Even in the North – Mother Earth News


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