Although full of flavor, heirloom sweet potatoes have been forgotten by many in the mega agricultural environment in which we live. Why? They don’t appeal to most people.
Instead, varieties that have "mass appeal" because of their hardiness and look, like Beauregard and Jewell, get the agricultural mass producers’ focus. However, mass-produced sweet potatoes tend not to be as tasty as the heirloom varieties.
Decades ago, preservationists began to collect and save samples of the open-pollinated (nature’s way without human involvement) sweet potato varieties. These varieties have become known as heirloom sweet potatoes.
More than thirty of these varieties are listed below. Some, like Nancy Hall, Hayman and Yellow Jersey, may be easier to find in the United States than others.
Amish White Bunch
Ivis White Cream
Maynard Family White
Old Fashioned Southern Queen
Red Wine Velvet
Ringley’s Porto Rico
Tennessee Top Mark
Theodore Meece Old Fashioned White
Sweet potatoes are among many other heirloom fruits and vegetables, including carrots, beets, potatoes, tomatoes, corn and lettuce, grown today.
Heirloom sweet potatoes can be found in specialty produce markets and some farmer’s markets; and, slips (plants) can be purchased from marketers like the
This marketer of sweet potatoes has been working to preserve heirloom varieties. They have set up a project that is both an educational tool and a concerted effort to preserve heirloom sweetpotatoes. They are working to ensure the preservation of as many varieties of sweet potatoes as possible. Check out their site, and others like
on our sweet potato Links page (where to buy sweet potatoes), and consider ordering some of the heirloom varieties for your garden. Your taste buds will be glad you did.
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