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Edibility of ornamental Ipomoea batatas?

bae at cs.toronto.no-uce.edu bae at cs.toronto.no-uce.edu
Mon Dec 6 12:28:22 EST 2004

In article <31gh0tF3b2331U1 at individual.net>,
Phred <ppnerkDELETETHIS at yahoo.com> wrote:
>In article <2004Dec4.113157.11756 at jarvis.cs.toronto.edu>, bae at cs.toronto.no-uce.edu wrote:
>>>I've got a patch of the orange fleshed kind in the backyard here; but 
>>>I admit they're basically just going wild (and doing it very tough due 
>>>to high temperatures and no rain) and I rarely think to harvest some 
>>>for a feed.
>>They are very nutritious -- extremely high in carotenes.  I cook them
>>whole in a covered container in the microwave and eat them hot or cold
>>with salt and pepper.  The very moist kind, with "melting" texture, are
>>especially good this way.
>When you say "whole", do you mean unpeeled, or just uncut?
>Roughly what size do you use, and how long to cook?  (As you can see, 
>you've got me thinking about a harvest. ;-)

Life is too short to spend it peeling vegetables. You can scoop the
flesh out of the skin when you eat them, or just go ahead and eat the
skin.  Fibre is *good* for you, it's not just laziness, right? ;-)

Unfortunately only the most fervent and dedicated can grow sweet
potatoes in Ontario, except for a few favored locations, so I have to
buy them.  I try to get them less than 8cm or so diameter so they'll
cook faster, but size doesn't really matter, as long as it's fairly
uniform.  How long?  Hm.  10 minutes on high and then check them and
give them another 5 or 10 minutes if they are still hard in the
center?  Something like that.

IIRC, in this climate it's necessary to mature the dug roots by keeping
them warm (over 80F - 27C) for a few weeks, or they won't develop full
flavour or keep well, but this may be only because the soil is pretty
cold by the time they are dug.  It may not be necessary in a more
appropriate climate.

>>(A little more ethnobotany for non-North Americans:  a pumpkin pie is
>>made by baking a mix of pureed squash (Cucurbita moschata or C.maxima
>>is generally better for this than C.pepo), milk, eggs, molasses and
>>spices like cinnamon and ginger with only a lower crust.  For a
>I have to admit, I'd never have thought of molasses in that.

Pumpkin pie is really quite a different food than squash cooked as a
vegetable.  Look up some recipes and try it some time, with either
squash or sweet potato.  A good source of recipes for *anything* is
www.cooks.com.  Note that in the US, sweet potatoes are often called

Using molasses with squash probably goes back to the use of maple syrup
or maple sugar by the North American native people who grew
squash and beans long before European contact.  A lot of "traditional
American" recipes are derived from native foods, with molasses substituted
for maple sugar and pork fat substituted for bear fat, e.g. Boston baked
beans.  Ditto for many uses of maize.  Molasses became a staple in the
northeastern US when it was one of the main trade items in the commercial
circuit that moved manufactured goods from England, slaves from Africa,
sugar, molasses and rum from the West Indies and dried codfish and lumber
from New England and eastern Canada around the North Atlantic.

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