Whole sweet potatoes are a colorful alternative to standard baking potatoes. High in vitamin A and naturally low in calories despite their sweet taste, they’re also a nutritious choice; a small baked sweet potato has only a hundred calories, yet contains more than enough vitamin A to fulfill the body’s daily requirement for it.
Shopping and Storage
When shopping for sweet potatoes, choose those with unbroken skins and firm flesh. Look for sweet potatoes with a uniform shape; a more regular shape means more even baking. Smaller potatoes are less fibrous than larger ones. Sweet potatoes will keep for about two weeks if stored loose in a cool, dry environment.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. As the oven heats, give the potatoes a thorough scrub with a vegetable brush before baking. Sweet potato skin is edible, but not as tasty if it has grit or grocers’ wax on it.
Pat the sweet potatoes dry and rub them with a light coating of olive oil, butter, or margarine. Prick their skins with a fork several times to allow them to release the steam they’ll produce as they bake. Wrap each potato in its own sheet of aluminum foil. Sweet potatoes can leak some of their sugar during baking despite being foil-wrapped, so transfer the wrapped potatoes to a baking sheet before they go into the oven.
The time it takes to bake a sweet potato depends on the size and shape of the potatoes. Small ones should be done in about 45 minutes while medium ones take at least an hour and large ones as much as an hour and a half. The simplest method to check for doneness is to poke each potato with a fork; if the fork slides cleanly and easily into the thickest part of the potato, it’s done.
Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and carefully unwrap them. Give each one a firm pinch across its widest part to loosen the flesh inside. Slit potatoes lengthwise just before serving, fluffing the orange flesh inside with a fork if desired.
Baked sweet potatoes are delicious with butter or margarine, but they also go well with sour cream or plain yogurt. For a more savory side dish, top them with sauteed onions or a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
Although they make a delicious main dish or side, sweet potatoes can also double as dessert. Maple syrup, raisins, or honey turn a baked sweet potato into an after-dinner treat. With cinnamon, nutmeg, a dash of brown sugar, and a dollop of whipped cream, they’re reminescent of pumpkin pie.