Opinion: purple sweet potatoes ready for the holidays
By Frieda's Specialty Produce CEO Karen Caplan
Did you know that sweet potatoes come in a variety of colors and textures, including purple? Saveur Magazine Online recently listed 16 varieties of beautiful U.S-grown sweet potatoes. Last but not least on that list is my favorite, Stokes Purple® Sweet Potato.
I’m very excited for Frieda’s second season with this product - they have proven to be darlings to chefs, nutritionists, and foodies everywhere because of their striking color and high nutritional value. This non-GMO sweet potato variety is grown in California, as well as North Carolina. It has purple skin and bold purple flesh that intensifies when cooked.
What makes the variety different than other sweet potatoes and yams is its flavor and texture, offering a favorably dryer, denser and richer taste with a floral note that is not cloyingly sweet.
Not to be confused with the Okinawan Purple Sweet Potato, Stokes Purple® Sweet Potato has purple-tinted skin and bright purple flesh, while the Okinawan counterpart is beige on the outside with lavender-violet flesh. As for texture, Stokes is dryer and denser than the orange counterpart while the Okinawan one is on the starchy and mealy side.
Not only does the brilliantly-colored sweet potato look great on your plate, it is also very good for you. The purple flesh is packed with antioxidants called anthocyanins, a special type of antioxidant which is also found in blueberries and other purple fruits and vegetables. These antioxidants are being studied for their health benefits like disease-fighting properties, from fighting inflammation to cancer.
Another healthy highlight is that like most sweet potatoes, the Stokes Purple® has a low glycemic index which is beneficial for diabetics and those who are watching their waistline. Low-glycemic foods take longer to absorb and help you feel full longer, and they also help moderate your blood sugar level for a steadier stream of energy.
With its antioxidants, low-glycemic property and being non-GMO, it’s no wonder why the Stokes Purple® Sweet Potatoes are so popular with those on Paleo (Paleolithic) or clean eating diets.
Because this variety is denser than other sweet potatoes, it needs to be baked low and slow. We recommend against boiling them because they can get super watery. To bake a potato, simply wrap it in aluminum foil and bake at 350° F for 1.5-2 hours. It may sound like a lot of work, but trust me, it is totally worth the wait.
What's especially great about these Purple Sweet Potatoes is that they stay firm when cooked. They don’t get mushy like regular sweet potatoes, so they’re perfect to swap with the regular spuds in many recipes like potato salads, oven-baked fries, wedges, hash browns, and even a straight-up baked potato.
The cooked purple sweet potato is so versatile. The mashed-up baked purple sweet potato can be added to a smoothie, or even pancake batter to add substance, color, and a touch of sweetness. Our test kitchen made a Purple Sweet Potato pie for our Thanksgiving Try This, Not That® recipe collection, and our staff requested that the pie be included in our company holiday luncheon.
Last year, I put a twist on my traditional Hanukkah Latkes (potato pancakes) by using Stokes Purple® Sweet Potato, and it was a huge hit. Perhaps this year, these beautiful sweet potatoes will end up on your dinner table, too.