Thursday, December 03, 2009

Processing sweet potatoes and salsa.

It snowed here this morning in North Texas. It was short-lived and the sun was out soon enough, so I went out and picked tomatoes, cilantro, green onion for salsa making. I'd already spent the morning processing that horrible-looking elephant-man- head sweet potato and the more normal-looking sidekick that have been sitting on my kitchen table curing for a while now. Last time I processed a pair of these I got enough for 12 meals. This time, I only got enough for eight meals due to lots of insect damage on one side.

The elephant-man-heads need to be cut to fit into my biggest pot (which isn't as big as some might have), so it boils without skin on at least one side. It's also a bitch to cut for boiling. Next season I'll keep a better eye on sweet potato growth. Remind me, okay?


So, I got home from Illinois late last night and ... there were no tomatoes sitting on newspaper on the kitchen table, so I asked Em what happened to them and he said, "They rotted." These were the tomatoes destined for salsa as soon as we found some cilantro (which the local stores didn't have currently). My mind went through all the "I should have refrigerated them" thoughts, and even a quick tour of the uglier thoughts. Put on a winter coat and went outside to see if we had any more. We did, and even had maybe enough cilantro.


First thing on my agenda for tomorrow. Would have processed them today, but I took a nap and didn't wake up until 10:30pm. Yeah ... that vacation wore me out. Just in case I can't get to it right away, though, I put it all in the frig.


I wonder which is worse ... letting good food rot or using a plastic bag and a refrigerator.


Diane said...

We just did our mega-monthly shopping trip yesterday and found sweet potatoes for 10 cents per pound so I grabbed 35-40 pounds. We're not big sweet potato eaters, usually only having them at Thanksgiving (for Steve) but... for 10 cents a pound, I can learn to like them somehow. If I had a pressure canner, I'd do them up for later but I don't so they're sitting, patiently awaiting their fate. Maybe I can hold them until spring and have them grow me more? I've never grown them before. Inspire me!

Oldnovice said...

We absolutely LOVE them, and I'm totally green with envy that you found them for such a deal.

You can freeze them, as I've been doing. My personal opinion on canned sweet potatoes isn't so hot.

Put as many as will fit into the biggest pot you have and boil them just until a not-so-sharp fork will pierce them easily.

Remove them from the water and set them aside to cool while you put the next batch into the same water and repeat.

Once they cool, peel them and [if you still have a working knife in your house] cut them into maybe 1" slices and toss the slices into a large bowl of water to which you've added either lemon juice or a powder called Fruit-Fresh.

The stuff in the store is already cured, so you don't need to worry about sweetening them by having them hang around a warm place a while.

As for how to eat them, some people (like my mom and my friend Bob) just bake them like a baked potato, slit them and put butter and salt and pepper on them. Obviously, I can't do that because I've already chopped them into pieces for freezing, AND I like what I do with them better anyway.

I fry them in a little butter (or whatever substitute you like) with a little cinnamon, some vanilla extract, and a little brown sugar. I like the consistency better that way than in those casserole things with the marshmallows.

Check out the Sweet Potato people online. You can get a bajillion recipes for them sent to you or Emailed to you. AND, you can also do the elementary school experiment and start some rooting in a cup with toothpicks. It's how I got MY sweet potatoes going the first year. Set them on the windowsill of the master bathroom and they rooted and grew leaves all winter.

Diane said...

Thanks! I think I will try keeping some until spring to grow slips. As for eating, the plain baked sounds the most appealing so I'll try that first. I do like raw sweet potatoes but that's the only way I've ever liked them. Time to expand my horizons! I'll try boiling and freezing some as you suggest, too, then maybe make mashed something or other? That whole sweet sugar & cinnamon thing -- ew. Steve likes them that way, though. I just have a thing against sweet in meat and veggies. *shudder* I'm excited to have another easy-to-grow and -store (or so I've read) veggie.

Okay, gonna be brave and put baked sweet taters on tonight's dinner menu.

Oldnovice said...

Here's another baked number for when you feel better. It still adds brown sugar, but I've cut the brown sugar (or ANY sugar) in these recipes down to almost nothing and stuff still tasted good. I don't do it because I don't like the sweet taste, but because (especially at our age) I don't think our bodies need all that sugar.

Anyway, for when you're feeling better: twice-baked sweet potatoes.