Last week I bought yellow sweet potatoes. When I baked them (just tossed them into the oven with skins on), they carmelized, producing a sweet, natural, perfect treat. Sugary goodness oozed outside of their skins.
This week, I went to a different store and bought a lot of yellow sweet potatoes, looking forward to the same delight. Unfortunately, none of them carmelized. No sugary ooze. Completely dry and boring. These are unsweet potatoes and I have a lot.
Why were the first bunch sweet and the second not? The baking method was the same. How do I choose sweet potatoes to ensure they are sweet?
they could have been tossed in a mislabeled bin, but there is such a thing as variety within a food. recently bought some jalapenos that are as bland and green tasting as bell peppers, while the previous batch were super hot! no way to tell until i eat them.
cultivar, weather and point of origin all decide on how the food tastes long before it gets to your store.
Not all sweet potatoes are the same. there are many varieties of yellow flesh and many varieties of orange (purple and almost white too). they vary in sweetness, texture, etc.
In addition, the heat in the soil affects sweetness, as well as time harvested, time since harvest, how they are stored, etc. I find a general rule of thumb for most veggies is to select a firm, heavy for size, no mold on the flesh or intact flesh (some veggies are a bit ugly and good - not necessarily pristine, but not heavily damaged where spores can infect), from a store that has a lot of turnover will be the best.
Sweet potatoes are best cured, which as good farmer will do before distribution. If htey are stored in too cold of a temp, they will change texture.
This is why i belong to a trusted CSA - it saves me time and energy to select good produce : ).