It’s sweet potato harvest time and our farmers are hard at work digging up sweet potatoes. I was down in North Carolina a few weeks ago and got to experience this process for myself. I was so amazed at the quantity of sweet potatoes that grow underground and how something with such a vivid color and so many nutrients is nurtured in the earth. It really makes you appreciate fruits and vegetables when you see their growing environment and how they develop in such a natural way. I
saw hundreds of sweet potatoes on the field but I have a soft spot for miniature things so I brought back a bag full of fingerling sweet potatoes that I picked myself!
One very important detail I learned on my whirlwind tour was that sweet potatoes go through a “curing process” after harvesting. This is a natural process that occurs when sweet potatoes are removed from the field and stored. When harvested, their skin is very thin and delicate and can be easily scraped. Luckily, nature has all that figured out. During curing, the skin naturally thickens for protection and heals any minor wounds that occurred during harvest. At this point, the starches in the sweet potatoes begin to convert to sugar, giving them that sweet flavor we love. The natural curing process can take up to 3 months, but North Carolina farmers are committed to kick starting that process in a controlled storage facility to ensure that the best tasting sweet potatoes arrive at the market, whether it be 1 month or 6 months after harvest.
Not all sweet potato growing states are required to cure their sweet potatoes, so be sure to look for North Carolina when shopping for your sweets this holiday season.