All about sweet potato > Growing, harvesting & curing American sweet potato
Sweet potatoes are tropical vegetables that thrive in hot and humid growing conditions such as the southern US states and California. Rich, fertile soil offers the perfect environment for growing sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes plants are herbaceous perennial vines with heart shaped leaves, flowers that are similar to morning glories and tuberous roots that grow into sweet potatoes.
- American sweet potatoes are planted in May and early June through a transplanting process, which takes the delicate sweet potato seedling and plants it into rich, sandy soil.
- Harvesting begins in August or early September, after growing for over 100 days. They are handpicked – dug up from the ground by farmers in order to reduce damage to their delicate skin.
- After harvesting, the sweet potatoes are kept in their natural state and are brought to environmentally controlled warehouses where they undergo a curing process.
The curing process of American sweet potatoes lasts 7 days at 80°F (26°C) which gives them their distinct sweet taste. Curing is the natural process of converting starch into sugars, and this gives the potatoes more flavour. Curing sweet potatoes has many other benefits including:
- IT TOUGHENS UP THE SKIN, healing any scars that may have occurred during harvesting. This also reduces the chance of decay.
- NUTRITIONAL VALUES INCREASE. A scientific study conducted at North Carolina State University found that the content of carotenoids in the sweet potatoes increased by 18 per cent after 8 months of storage.
- SWEET POTATOES ALL YEAR ROUND. The curing process allows for a constant supply of fresh and nutritious sweet potatoes continuously throughout the year.
Thanks to the American Sweet Potato Marketing Institute for photos and collaboration.
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