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Jan 15, 2013 04:45 PM

Baked sweet potatoes making a mess?

Hello everyone,

I have been baking sweet potatoes in the oven, using the "poke holes in the potato so the steam can get out and the potato won't explode" method.

The problem is that during the course of baking, there seems to be some sort of sugary sap that oozes out of the potato, runs down the side of the potato, and then ends up on the bottom of the oven, where it chars and makes a terrible smell.

Am I doing something wrong? Thanks in advance!

P.S. I am baking the potatoes at 400-450 F for 60 minutes.

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  1. That's normal. Put them on a sheet of foil. At least that's what I do for baking both regular and sweet potatoes.

    3 Replies
    1. re: juliejulez

      Hi juliejulez,

      Thanks for the response. I think that's what I'm going to try next.

      Does the sap end up burning as it pools on the foil?

      1. re: checkit

        I, too, use foil to protect the baking stone that always sits at the bottom of the oven, but I put the potato directly on the rack, then put the foil on the rack below it. This keeps the potato from sitting in any juices that have dripped out and, I think, helps the potato to cook more evenly. Not to mention, it yields a crispier skin as I like to brush my potatoes with oil then season them with salt before I bake them.

        1. re: checkit

          It doesn't burn to the point of smoking, no. It'll burn and get hard on the foil but doesn't smoke, not like it would if it was on the bottom of the oven.

      2. I bake sweet potatoes in a pyrex pan, usually at 375 to 400 (depending on what else is in the oven). Depending on size, they are usually done in 45 minutes, and the juices don't burn at that lower temperature.

        1 Reply
        1. re: dkenworthy

          Good idea! I will give it a shot.

        2. It is called a sweet potato for a reason, the brown is caused by the carmelization of the sugars in the potato. You need to put some parchment paper under your pan. Have you tried it boiled and added to regular mashed potatoes? A lot less trouble in my books.

          1. No need to poke holes in a sweet tator either....Never seen one explode. If you bake them too long they will ooze causing the problem you described. Try some of the methods up thread to prevent the burning etc......


            3 Replies
            1. re: Uncle Bob

              I use a cookie sheet covered with the reynolds non-stock foil. That way any little sweet bits that ooze out I can scrape off later and eat when I take the potatoes out of the oven.

              1. re: Uncle Bob

                Unfortunately, not poking holes in a sweet potato doesn't work in the microwave...splat! I generally do them that way - only takes 4 to 5 minutes - not as tasty as oven baked, but a lot quicker when you've got to get dinner on the table.

                1. re: critter101

                  I usually dice the sweet potatoes if I need a quick cook in the microwave.

              2. The sugary sap is exactly that: sugars (including starch that has degraded to sugar) that have burned.

                There's actually no need to cook them at 400F. The two important temperatures are 160F, above which starches will gelatinize, but the enzyme that converts the starch to sugar degrades; and 360F, at which the maltose will caramelize. If you're baking them in their skins, caramelization isn't really relevant, so you'll preserve more of the nutrients and avoid mess if you cook them at something like 300F.