Everything You Need to Know About NC Sweet Potatoes + A Recipe
by Esme Addison
I’m really proud of the fact that North Carolina is tops in the country for growing sweet potatoes.
Did you know that?
I know that because I like to read and research things. I especially love to learn the history of my favorite places and foods, which is why you will find lots o interesting histories on Due South. History of gold mining in the south. History of mac and cheese… you get the picture.
When I was a kid I read dictionaries, encyclopedias and cereal boxes for fun…
So, I love sweet potatoes. Not just at Thanksgiving but all year long. But that just comes from being a southerner, and a North Carolinian. In my family we eat sweet potatoes all year long – of course we really double down on sweet potato consumption in the fall. I love sweet potato pies, sweet potato casserole… and sweet potato bread.
If you’ve ever eaten a large, moist, warm slice of sweet potato bread you know exactly how heavenly it is. And so, before I share my favorite recipe for sweet potato bread, I thought it would be fun to learn a little history.
Leading Sweet Potato Producing State
North Carolina sweet potatoes are a staple crop in the state and are enjoyed worldwide. Known for their sweet and delicious taste, they are packed with vitamins and nutrients that make them a healthy choice for any meal.
The production of sweet potatoes has a rich history in North Carolina. It all began in the early 1900s, when farmers in the state started growing sweet potatoes as a rotation crop to improve soil health. Since then, the production of sweet potatoes has grown to become an important industry in the state, generating billions of dollars in revenue each year.
North Carolina is the leading sweet potato-producing state in the country, with over 60% of the nation’s sweet potatoes being grown in the state. In 2020, the state produced over 1.5 million pounds of sweet potatoes, making it the largest crop in the state. The top varieties grown in the state include Covington, Beauregard, and Murasaki.
Sweet potatoes are also an important crop for the North Carolina economy, providing employment opportunities for many people. From farmers to processors and packers, the sweet potato industry is responsible for generating over $500 million in revenue each year. North Carolina sweet potatoes are exported to over 20 countries, including Japan, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
Not Just Good, But Good For You
Sweet potatoes are not only delicious, but they are also incredibly nutritious. They are a great source of dietary fiber, which is essential for maintaining healthy digestion and reducing the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. One medium-sized sweet potato contains about 4 grams of fiber, which is about 16% of the daily recommended intake for an adult.
In addition to fiber, sweet potatoes are also packed with vitamins and minerals. They are particularly high in vitamin A, which is important for maintaining healthy skin and vision, and in vitamin C, which supports a healthy immune system. One medium-sized sweet potato contains about 438% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin A and 37% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C.
Sweet potatoes are also a good source of potassium, an essential mineral that plays a role in regulating blood pressure and reducing the risk of stroke. One medium-sized sweet potato contains about 15% of the daily recommended intake of potassium.
One of the most interesting and unique nutritional benefits of sweet potatoes is their high antioxidant content. Sweet potatoes are particularly rich in a type of antioxidant called beta-carotene, which gives them their vibrant orange color. Beta-carotene has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Tapping Maple Syrup in WaterFall Farms, North Carolina
Exploring the State’s Diverse Growing Areas
North Carolina is a major producer of sweet potatoes in the United States, and the state boasts several regions that are particularly renowned for their sweet potato production. One such area is the coastal plain region of eastern North Carolina, which is characterized by rich, fertile soil and a mild, humid climate that is ideal for growing sweet potatoes.
In this region, the sandy soils of the Inner Banks and Outer Banks produce sweet potatoes with a unique flavor and texture. The Inner Banks are located along the Albemarle Sound and the Pamlico River, and the sweet potatoes grown in this region are known for their rich, nutty flavor and creamy texture. The Outer Banks, which are a string of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina, are home to sweet potatoes that are slightly sweeter and denser than those grown in the Inner Banks.
Another area of North Carolina that is known for its sweet potato production is the Piedmont region, which stretches from the Atlantic coastal plain to the Appalachian Mountains. The Piedmont is home to some of the state’s most fertile soil, and the region’s warm, humid climate is ideal for growing sweet potatoes. In this area, the sweet potatoes tend to be slightly drier and less sweet than those grown in the coastal plain, but they are still highly prized for their flavor and nutritional value.
Finally, the mountainous regions of western North Carolina are also home to sweet potato production. These areas have cooler temperatures and lower humidity levels than the coastal plain and Piedmont regions, but they still provide ideal conditions for growing sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes grown in these areas tend to be smaller and slightly sweeter than those grown in other regions of the state.
Six Essential Southern Desserts
Sweet Potato Bread
One sweet potato dish that has gained popularity in recent years is sweet potato bread. Sweet potato bread is a delicious and healthy alternative to traditional bread, and is easy to make at home. The bread is made with sweet potato puree, which gives it a rich, sweet flavor and a moist texture. It can be served as a breakfast item or as a side dish for any meal.
In North Carolina, sweet potato bread has become a popular item on restaurant menus and at farmers’ markets. Many North Carolinians enjoy baking their own sweet potato bread at home, using recipes passed down from generation to generation.
Sweet potato bread is a delectable treat that has been enjoyed for generations. It is a unique take on traditional bread, as it incorporates sweet potatoes into the dough, giving it a moist and slightly sweet flavor. This bread is popular throughout the United States, but it has a special place in the heart of North Carolina, where sweet potatoes are a staple crop.
The exact origins of sweet potato bread are unknown, but it is believed to have been created in the southern United States in the late 19th century. Sweet potato bread was a way for people to use up their leftover sweet potatoes after the harvest season had ended. Over time, the recipe for sweet potato bread has evolved, and it is now a beloved baked good that can be found in many homes and bakeries.
There are many different variations of sweet potato bread, but most recipes include the same basic ingredients. In addition to sweet potatoes, flour, sugar, and eggs, many recipes call for milk, butter, and a variety of spices. Some recipes also include nuts, raisins, or other dried fruits for added flavor and texture.
Five Sweet Potato Dishes You Need To Make
One of the great things about sweet potato bread is its versatility. It can be made with either fresh or canned sweet potatoes, and can be baked in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some recipes call for the bread to be baked in a loaf pan, while others recommend baking it in muffin tins or even as a cake.
Esme Addison’s North Carolina Sweet Potato Bread
- 2 cups mashed sweet potatoes (cooked and peeled)
- 1 cup refined coconut oil
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the mashed sweet potatoes, vegetable oil, and eggs until well combined.
- In a separate mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt.
- Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined.
- Stir in the vanilla extract and chopped pecans.
- Pour the batter into a greased 9×5 inch loaf pan and bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Slather butter all over your slice (or hunk) of sweet potato bread… and enjoy.
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