In Season: Sweet Potatoes


[Flickr: Barbara L. Hansen]

No other vegetable that says "fall" quite like the sweet potato. We all have our favorite recipes, and love debating which aunt's sweet potato casserole is the best. I still follow my Aunt Margaret's recipe, though with the addition and omission of several ingredients. Every time time I make the sugary, marshmallow topped casserole, my dad always says, "It tastes just like Margaret's"—bringing me instant culinary satisfaction. There is something nostalgic about the sweet potato that makes it taste that much better.

Some seasonal sweet potato recipes, after the jump.

This perennial root vegetable was first domesticated 5000 years ago in the tropical regions of South America. The sweet potato is characterized by yellow or orange flesh, coated by a thin skin that can be white, yellow, orange, red, or purple. Sweet potatoes grow best in abundant sunlight and warm temperatures, and are generally available year around with the peak season falling from late October through December. Not only delicious, one sweet potato packs twice the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A, with loads of vitamin C, calcium, fiber, and only 141 nutritious calories.

When choosing sweet potatoes at the market, look for intact skin without cracks, soft spots, or blemishes. You can store your sweet potatoes in a cool, dry place for up to four weeks. Once cooked, keep them in the fridge for five to seven days or in the freezer for six to nine months.

We've rounded up our favorite sweet potato recipes below to help you take full advantage of peak sweet potato season.