Sunday, May 17, 2009

No Photo Today

I was going to take one, really, but I forgot. And I've just peeled it, cut it up and put it in the oven to bake! Sorry!

I harvested some kumara a week ago. Kumara is what we call the orange-fleshed sweet potato (it's the Maori word). I chopped the end off a shop kumara last spring and popped it into my garden, and it has been happily growing ever since, without supplementary water. The kumara aren't totally ripe yet: apparently I should wait until the leaves yellow -- but I've dug up a few anyway.

We discovered that freshly-dug kumara doesn't have much taste, but leaving it to sit a week gives you the flavour you expect. If you want to store kumara for any length of time, there is a recommended curing process given here. I'm just going to leave the tubers in the ground until a week before I need them.

When I was a kid, sweet potatoes were always white. Kumara from New Zealand started making their appearance in the early 1980s, if I remember rightly. They became popular because they were cheap, less likely to have strings than the white kind, and stayed an attractive colour when cooked. Nowadays, there's also a purple-skinned white sweet potato. I think it's the best-tasting of the three: it's reminiscent of chestnuts, and I like the mealiness. But growing the kumara was easy.

The plant I grew is a pretty (if rampant) vine with heart-shaped leaves and mauve morning-glory flowers. Hardly surprising as the sweet potato is Ipomoea batatas, from the same family as morning glory flowers. Growing sweet potato would be a fun gardening project for a child in a mild climate.


Amanda said...

Mmmmm - I love sweet potato.
We grew some here one year but unfortunately we had some grubs which also liked sweet potato attack the tubers before they were ready to harvest.

Chookie said...

Oh dear. You might be a victim of the Sweet Potato Weevil, which is the main pest. I believe it likes warmer climes than Sydney.