Maui Loves ʻUala (Sweet Potato)

Posted on Mar 23, 2012 in Article, Featured | No Comments
Hawaiian Sweet Potatoes

Photo courtesy of Kula Fields

The only Polynesian introduction that traces its origins to South America, sweet potato has long been a Polynesian staple. This member of the morning glory family, Ipomoea batatas, adapts easily to its environment, and thrives in Hawai‘i. Farmers in ancient Hawai‘i may have cultivated as many as 200 varieties. While sweet potatoes are starchy and may be steamed or baked like Irish potatoes, they are packed with vitamins and beta carotene. Young leaf tips, boiled or fried, make a great dark-green veggie. Commercial production of sweet potatoes in the islands began in 1849, with production acreage, primarily in Moloka‘i, delivering about 5.3 million pounds of tubers in 2007. And yet, few of us cook with these valiant, delicious roots on a regular basis. Try to taste two types, which are both commonly on the market: The dry-fleshed with white to pale yellow or purple skin type is locally referred to as the real sweet potato. The second type, locally referred to as yam has moist, orange flesh. Did you know, sweet potato is often written as one word, sweetpotato, and should not be confused with the true “yam,” an entirely different species?

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