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Mar 14, 2008 03:52 PM

How to pick non-stringy sweet potatoes

Hi: I just tried making mashed sweet potatoes for the first time. They were delicious, but at least one of the potatoes was pretty stringy, and some of the strings were quite fibrous. I know if you use a hand blender to mash them the strings will wrap to the beaters, but I don't have one and I'd just assume mash them with a fork. I'm not really looking for a puree, anyways. So, is there any trick to picking good potatoes? One website said avoid the huge ones, one said to avoid "grunts", and another said to avoid the "gnarly" looking ones. That seems like I'd be avoiding them altogether. Any help?

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  1. CookingGirl, I'm so glad to see your question! I've been having disappointing experiences with yams lately, too.

    The best way I can think of to get a great yam of no immediate help: wait until August. Yams are in season August-October, and the yams we get for the rest of the year are cured and held in storgage. Spring and early summer yams are pretty old.

    But that's separate fron the stringiness issue. I've read that the strings develop if yams are grown in a particularly rainy season. I find that long skinny yams are the stringiest, but all of the yams I've been able to find (Whole Foods, Fairway) have been pretty gnarly looking lately. I think that midsized "plump looking" or roundish yams are the best if you can find them.

    If anyone has sources for good yams or other ways to tell if a yam will be stringy, I'd also love to hear.

    1 Reply
    1. re: KitchenCo

      this discusses the difference between yams and sweet potatoes:

      sweet potato selection:

      i love the silky texture from baking vs. nuking a sweet potato.

    2. I use the red skinned sweet potatoes..on the large side, to mash with a fork... I usually get them at Whole Foods...not stringy at all

      1. Have you tried the white sweet potatoes? I find these to lack any of the strings that the orange ones often have..I buy them almost exclusively now.. You can often find them in Latin or Asian markets..

        3 Replies
        1. re: erica

          Are the white sweet potatoes actually white instead of red? Do they taste the same? I wonder if they have all the nutrients (betacaroteens? sp?) that the red ones have. I love the taste of sweet potatoes and feel so virtuous knowing they have all those extra-good nutrients.

          1. re: karykat

            The ones I have had are creamy white inside; the skin can be either tan-colored or reddish. I, too, would like to know about he nutrient content. They would not have the beta-carotene amount of the orange ones but what about other nutrients..The taste and consistency is really wonderful..

          2. re: erica

            I bought these by accident the other day, I've found the texture when I baked them as potato chips to be very floury, unlike the lovely chewiness of the orange variety and with both orange and white my mash is full of hard fibrous strings! I boil them first, then mash - where am I going wrong?

          3. I don't know if there is any way to know if a sweet potato or yam will be stringy, but if you use a potato ricer or food mill in the mashing stage you will remove the strings. The ricer is probably the most economical if you don't have either device.

            1. I make maybe 6-8 sweet potato pies a year. Though I make other fruit pies, sweet potato pie is my staple. I choose the jumbo ones, because the usable yield versus small ones. My daughter lives in Detroit where the large ones are sold. Whether you buy the large ones or the small one; there is a golden rule. I always with a knife to remove the fibrous, stringy layer under the skin. After you peel the skin of the potato, cut about 3/8 - 1/2 off the ends. Use a steak knife and slice horizontally about the depth just under the stringy layer of the potato from one end to the other. Repeat around the whole around the potato. You have removed a good percentage of the strings. I use the same method w/ jumbo ones. I then use a hand blender to remove the rest. I maybe rinse the beaters 8-12 or more.. I have to; I can not tolerate strings in my pie