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Sweet Potato Leaves
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This item was last sold on : 05/27/17
Sweet Potato leaves are vibrantly colored and generally heart-shaped, with pointed tips. The leaves may be palmate, and range in color from dark to yellow-green. Sweet Potato leaves may even be purple in color, depending on the sweet potato variety. Sweet Potato leaves tend to be darker on their top sides, and grow on slender, lengthy stems rising from long, creeping vines, which can grow to 4 meters long. It is typical to eat the tips of the stems, meaning the top 10 centimeters of the leaves and stems. Many also prefer to consume the younger leaves and shoots, as these are more tender than mature leaves. Sweet Potato leaves have a mild, slightly sweet flavor, with a taste similar to spinach and water spinach. They have a slight bitterness when raw, which disappears when the leaves are cooked.
Sweet Potato leaves are available year-round.
Sweet Potato leaves grow on the plant botanically referred to as Ipomoea batatas, and it belongs to the morning-glory family of Convolvulaceae. Like many in the family, the sweet potato plant has pretty flowers of white, yellow, orange or purple coloration. The herbaceous perennial vines grow vigorously, and some gardeners use sweet potatoes as ground cover plants thanks to their attractive leaves. The sweet potato may be referred to as camote or kumara, and is grown mostly for its sweet, tuberous root vegetable. However, its leaves, shoots and flowers are edible as well. The leaves can be continuously harvested until the root vegetables are fully-grown, making sweet potatoes a good crop for poor nations or for times of scarcity. In fact, the sweet potato was known as a “famine food” in the Great Kyoho Famine in 1732, as well as in the post-World War II period.
Sweet Potato leaves contain niacin, thiamine, beta-carotene, and vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K. They also contain essential minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese. Sweet Potato leaves have been found to be more nutritious than the root, and hence are being researched for their medicinal benefits. Sweet Potato leaves may offer protection from diseases linked to oxidation such as cancer, allergies, HIV and cardiovascular problems. They may also be useful in the treatment and prevention of diabetes, cancer, kidney stones, and liver diseases. They have been found to help reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels, prevent infections, and boost the immune system. Sweet Potato leaves have more riboflavin and vitamins B6 and C than actual sweet potatoes, and they are also high in dietary fiber, making them good for digestive health. Sweet Potato leaves contain lutein, which is said to have a number of benefits for the eye, and may help with age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
Sweet Potato leaves may be used in place of any leafy green, such as spinach or turnip greens. The simplest way to prepare Sweet Potato leaves is to blanch them in hot or boiling water. They are delicious when sautéed with garlic and olive oil, or when cooked in coconut milk. They pair well with savory flavor enhancers such as fish sauce or dried shrimp. Sweet Potato leaves may be used raw in salads or in green smoothies. They can also be cooked and served over rice or pasta, or served as a side dish to a main protein-based meal. Wash Sweet Potato leaves well and rough-chop into smaller pieces before cooking. If they are being boiled, cooking water may be reserved for later use as a stock, or even to be drunk, as the water will contain all the good nutrients from the leaves. The broth will be slightly bitter, but tasty. Sweet Potato leaves should be used as fresh as possible, as they are prone to wilting. To store, place them in a sealed bag in the vegetable drawer in your refrigerator.
Sweet Potato leaves are largely used as a vegetable in the islands of the Pacific Ocean, and in Asian and African countries. There, they are featured in soups, stews, and in cooked salads. In some folk remedies, Sweet Potato leaves are used to treat tumors of the mouth and throat, and can be crushed and used in ointments to treat skin conditions such as rashes. In Brazil, a hot water decoction of Sweet Potato leaves was historically used to help prevent obesity and to treat metabolic syndromes.
The sweet potato is a tropical plant that was originally cultivated by the Incans. Sweet potatoes were brought to Europe by Spanish explorers. They reached Britain before the arrival of the Irish potato in the 1500s, and were seen as an exotic delicacy. There are some 400 varieties of sweet potato, which today are grown in Asia, Africa, Europe and the United States. China is the largest producer of the sweet potato, which is one of the world’s main food crops. Sweet potatoes thrive in warm weather, and are able to grow abundantly in poor soil.
Recipes that include Sweet Potato Leaves. One is easiest, three is harder.