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Welcome Tom! Our New Paige's Pantry Blogger

Tom has been with Paige's Pantry since the beginning! He has helped us bag and deliver produce each week. Thank you Tom!


Tom will be sharing the history of produce and also recipes on the blog. Enjoy so fun facts and yummy recipes.



Baked Potato Recipe and History of the Sweet Potato

-Tom Midford

 

Baked Potato Recipe and History of the Sweet Potato


Ingredients


  • 2 pounds of orange fleshed sweet potatoes

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1-2 tablespoons spice or spice combination of your choice: chipotle powder, smoked paprika, Chinese five-spice, pumpkin pie spice, garam masala, Cajun seasoning, etc.


Steps


  1. Preheat oven and roasting pan: Preheat your oven to 450°F. (For more crispiness, preheat your oven to 500°F.) Place a roasting pan or heavy duty baking sheet (one that can take high heat) in the oven to preheat.

  2. Peel and cut sweet potatoes into wedges: Peel the sweet potatoes and cut off the ends. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and then, if they are very long, in half crosswise. Cut each piece into 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick wedges. Alternately, you can slice the peeled sweet potato into disks either with a mandoline or a sharp knife.

  3. Toss with oil, salt, spices:

Put the sweet potatoes into a large bowl and add the oil. Mix well to combine. Sprinkle with salt and spices of your choice. Use your hands to mix well, so all pieces are coated with oil and spices.

  1. Spread out onto preheated pan:

Remove the preheated baking sheet from the oven. Carefully spread the sweet potatoes out in a single layer on the baking sheet. (Watch out, the pan is hot!)

  1. Bake:

Bake for 15 to 25 minutes. After the first 10 minutes, remove the baking sheet from the oven and use tongs to turn over all of the sweet potato pieces.

Return to the oven and bake for another 5 to 15 minutes, or until they are well browned.

Cooking time depends on the temperature of the oven (500°F will need less cooking time than 450°F) and the size and thinness of the sweet potato wedges.

The browner they are, the crispier they will be, but there is a fine line between browned and burnt beyond edibility. Even if they get really dark, they should still be good because of the natural sugars of the sweet potatoes caramelizing. So watch carefully.

  1. Serve:

When ready, let the fries cool for 5 minutes before serving.


 

The sweet potato originated in Central and South America. The earliest cultivation

records date back to 750 B.C., while archaeological evidence dates to around 2500-1850 B.C. When Christopher Columbus came to the Americas, the sweet potato was a common crop in Central and South America.

The sweet potato was featured in John Gerard’s 1597 book Herball or Generall Historie of Plants. The popular candied sweet potatoes that many people have grown up eating around the holidays existed in some form by the 1880s. The 1893 Boston Cooking School Cookbook by Fannie Farmer featured a recipe for glazed yams (another word for sweet potato). Even George Washington Carver, the famous agricultural scientist, weighed in, producing two recipes for making candied yams.


It is said by farmers that the sweet potato season is year-round. This is due to the fact that a season’s harvest takes 12-23 months in total. Seed potatoes from previous harvests are saved and stored in heated buildings until March, when they are removed and covered with dirt and plastic.

Populations usually range from 12,000-16,000 plants per acre. In early-to-mid-May, the seeds are planted, in a process that usually lasts until mid-to-late June. After the seeds are planted, crops are monitored and cultivated.

It usually takes a sweet potato 90-120 days to mature. The harvest itself is still mostly done by hand. The vines are mowed with a flail mower, after which a flail mower is brought in. Following that, a small chain machine called a digger is dragged behind a tractor to turn the sweet potatoes onto the top of the ground. Workers then select the potatoes to go into storage in a process that requires many people and machines. After they are placed in crates, the potatoes are shipped off by truck to long-term storage facilities.


Citations


  1. Harbster, Jennifer. “A Sweet Potato History”. Library of Congress, November 4th, 2010. March 12, 2022.[https://blogs.loc.gov/inside_adams/2010/11/a-sweet-potato-history]

  2. Bauer, Elise. “Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries.” Simply Recipes, January 5th, 2022. March 13, 2022. [https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/oven_baked_sweet_potato_fries/]

  3. Edmondson Farm. “The Farm: Growing and Harvesting”. Edmondson Farm, 2022. March 12, 2022. [https://edmondsonfarm.com/the-farm/growing-harvesting]




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