Unduly Under-rated Veritable Vegetables – Sweet Potato Greens
Its wet season–nice ‘n hot ‘n humid–and in the garden rampancy rules, especially in the sweet potato patch. The tubers won’t be ready to harvest until autumn, but meantime there’s an absolute abundance of delicious, nutritious leaves to enjoy. Sweet Potato greens are one of those treats you need to harvest fresh from your own patch, I doubt you’ll find it in the supermarket aisles.
Sweet potato tips provide an important vegetable green throughout Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. I use them regularly as they’re delicious, prolific and always available except during our short frost season in winter. It’s important to only harvest the tender, young, pale-green leaf tips and stems for eating as the older darker leaves contain higher concentrations of alkaloids. (see photo)
Nutritional Value average per 100gr fresh weight
Vitamin A 5580 IU
Vitamin B2 0.32mg
Iron Fe 4mg
Protein 2.7 g
(from PROSEA Vol.9 Plants Yielding non-seed Carbohydrates)
Managing Sweet Potato
Sweet potato plants can grow quite vigorously during the wet season and require regular cutting back. Cutting back excess foliage/runners is also said to improve tuber formation and growth. Throughout the main growing season, as you cut back your sweet potatoes remember to harvest their tips for dinner before you feed the trimmings to your livestock or compost heap.
Sweet potato leaves contain less oxalic acid than spinach, so blanching isn’t essential. If you prefer to blanch the tips, simply pour boiling water over them and let stand for 2 minutes, strain off hot water & rinse immediately with cold water (to prevent over-cooking). This leaches and neutralises the white latex in the stem as well as alkaloids such as oxalic acid associated with most dark green vegies, with minimum loss of beneficial nutrients.
This is definitely my favourite Sweet Potato Tip dish…
Sweet Potato Tips in Coconut Cream
The quantities in the following recipe are for 3 cups of blanched leaves and will serve 4-5 people
Blanch the sweet potato tips, rinse with cold water and set aside.
Per 3 cups of blanched sweet potato tips:
2 shallots, finely sliced (including green leaves)
1 clove garlic, crushed or minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root (or substitute with half tsp dried ginger powder)
2 teaspoon grated fresh turmeric root (or substitute with flat tsp dried turmeric powder)
1 fresh chilli finely sliced (very this according to taste and size/type of chilli)
5cm (2″) lemon grass stalk finely sliced
Soy sauce (I prefer Tamari sauce)
1 cup coconut cream
1 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
• Heat cooking pot, cover bottom with a little vegetable oil then add shallots, garlic and spices (ginger, turmeric, chilli, lemongrass), stir fry for a few minutes until the aromas rise
• Add a dash of soy sauce and stir through spices
• Add coconut cream and water
• Bring to boil
• Add blanched sweet potato tips, stir through and bring back to the boil. Simmer on low heat for 2 minutes
• Ready to serve!
• Garnish with fresh Coriander Leaf
• Serve with boiled Cassava Root or Rice.
• Works particularly well as an accompaniment to fish.
NB The same recipe can be made using Warrigal Green (New Zealand Spinach) instead of Sweet Potato tips. NB Warrigal Greens (New Zealand Spinach) has high levels of oxalic acid so it is important to blanch them.