HOW SWEET IT IS

If you’ll remember, I purchased fifty pounds of sweet potatoes back in November. This was a welcome addition to my food supply.

Sweet potatoes are versatile. They can be prepared in both sweet and savory dishes. They are often used as a substitute for pumpkin and other squashes.

Sweet potatoes are nutritious. They provide an excellent source of beta carotene which the body converts to vitamin A, an essential nutrient. Studies have shown that vitamin A deficiency increases gut inflammation and reduces the ability of the immune system to respond properly to potential threats. Sweet potatoes also contain a good amount vitamin C, potassium, and manganese in each serving and are a decent source of many other vitamins and minerals. Sweet potatoes have a variety of benefits, including improved blood sugar regulation, reduced oxidative damage, anti-cancer properties and improved immune function, gut health, brain function, and eye health.

While properly cured and stored sweet potatoes can last six to eight months, there are other ways to extend their life even further. Canning them is one way to do that and canning means they become part of my convenience food pantry.

Today I canned sweet potatoes

I washed and peeled five pounds of sweet potatoes. My canning guide indicated 11 pounds is needed for 9 pints so, since I was only doing 5 pints, I thought 5 pounds would be about right. See below for the results of that math.*

Will five pounds of potatoes be enough for 5 pints?

Peeling all those sweet potatoes would have been oh-so-tedious which made me grateful, once again, that I have an electric peeler.

My Rotato Express made short work of the peeling job

The chickens and worms are going to enjoy these peelings!

Yummy chicken and worm food

The next step was to cut the potatoes into chunks. I then soaked them for a bit. This wasn’t part of the instructions, but I needed a break. When I was ready to go again, I drained and covered them with fresh water and boiled them for 10 minutes. I used a slotted spoon to load them into the jars, covered them with boiling water, put the lids and rings on and put them in my electric canner to pressure can for 65 minutes.

There you go, homemade convenience food

I had never canned sweet potatoes before this. It was more work than canning chicken but not too much so. Certainly not as much work as peaches. I wouldn’t be able to do a load of sweet potatoes when I come home from work, but it was a pretty straightforward process, so worth the time and effort.

*Epilogue

Since I rarely get the math right, I was not surprised to learn that five pounds was too much for five pints. I only needed to prepare four pounds. I had enough left over for another two and a half jars. I didn’t have another load in me though, so I put the rest of the boiled sweet potato cubes in the fridge. I used part of them to try a new recipe tonight and will figure out what to do with the rest in another meal.

Sweet Potato Hash

1 large sweet potato, diced

1 T water, or as needed

Salt to taste

1 T olive oil

1 small onion, diced

1 c diced ham steak

1/4 t cinnamon

1/4 t cayenne pepper

1 T brown sugar or to taste

Microwave diced sweet potato cubes in water and salt 2-3 minutes or until partially softened. (Since mine were already partially softened I was able to skip this step.) Cook and stir onion in hot oil until slightly softened 3-4 minutes. Stir in sweet potato, ham, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt into the onion, cover skillet with lid. Cook stirring occasionally until sweet potatoes are cooked through, about 10 minutes. If mixture begins to stick to the skillet, add a few tablespoons of water. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Cook and stir until brown sugar is dissolved, 1-2 more minutes.

Result: This was tasty and a nice change from my usual use of sweet potatoes. In the future I will make one change to the directions. I will mix the seasoning (cinnamon, cayenne, and salt) into the brown sugar so it will spread evenly. As written, there were hot spots in the dish instead of a nice blend of sweet and spicy.

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