Before we started growing sweet potatoes on our farm a few years ago, I'd never given the orange vegetable much thought. I had tried a baked sweet potato and honestly, didn't like it. Granted, I have the eating habits of a four year old, which may have had something to do with my dislike of this baked root (yes, a sweet potato is the plant's root, unlike the white potato which is a tuber).
Fast forward those few years and I find myself working with sweet potatoes not only on the farm but also through my job with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. So, I gave them another try. I still don't like them baked, but have found I like them raw and in other recipes, especially if they are hidden by cheese and sausage.
I was in the grocery store not long ago, armed with my Cannon, and decided to see how many products I could find in the store that used sweet potatoes. I started in the produce department, which is the obvious place to start when looking for a vegetable.
While in the produce section I also found a handy bag of sweet potatoes, ready for steaming in the microwave. Or, if you are cooking for one or have a picky eater like me in your house, a single sweet potato wrapped and ready to microwave may be all you need.
That ended my journey in the produce section so I ventured out to the rest of the store. In the refrigerated section I found more sweet potatoes - this time mashed and ready to be heated up in the microwave. Are you seeing a trend? Convenience items abound in the grocery.
I should mention here that this is when the store manager approached me to see why I was taking pictures in the store. Was I an undercover shopper? An extreme couponer recording the store's prices for my cost comparison sheet? A strange woman who just wanted pictures of sweet potato products because really, who doesn't? I'll leave it to you to decide.
Next came the canned fruit and vegetable aisle where I found a few different brands. By the way, sweet potatoes and yams are not the same but that's a topic for another blog post.
From the canned section I ventured to the chip and cracker aisle. What did I find? More sweet potatoes - this time in chips.
Then, I found the biggest surprise of all.....
No, I did not Photoshop or alter this picture in any way. You read it right....sweet potato and sea salt Triscuits. I couldn't believe my eyes.
After that shock to the system you'd think I would have quit my mission but no, I carried on. This time to the frozen food section. Sure enough, I had my choice of frozen sweet potatoes...crinkled, spicy, bite-size, no one-size-fits-all here.
I skipped taking a picture of sweet potato baby food, which was of my son's favorites before he discovered the joys of solids. I didn't spend any time on the dog food aisle but in retrospect I should have, since dehydrated sweet potatoes are used in man dog food brands. I did search the beer aisle because I know there are some specialty brews that use sweet potato puree. No luck there.
Thus ended my grocery store search for sweet potato products came to an end. I walked away with a greater appreciation for the diversity of the industry and how it has responded to consumer (that's you) demand by making more convenience products. A greater appreciation for the rising demand. And an appreciation that, come September, I will be able to enjoy sweet potatoes that came from our farm. Especially if they are covered with cheese and sausage.
How do you like your sweet potatoes cooked? Any good recipes you want to share?