Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

My grandfather's timing couldn't have been more fitting. He is a knowledgeable man, devoted to science based reading and gardening. As a young girl he introduced me to the gastronomic pleasures of tender greenbrier shoots and steamed day lilly greens.
Occasionally I will receive a piece of mail from him with a newspaper cut out, or an article excerpt on topics from gardening to health and nutrition. This most recent piece was a feature on sweet potatoes. Given that we had planned to harvest our sweet potato crop this weekend, I was very interested to learn about the leaves being compared to spinach. I had no idea. The article points to sweet potatoes as not only highly palatable and thrifty, but unsurpassed in their ability add nutritional diversity to the diet.
In 1920, the average American consumed about 30 pounds of sweet potatoes per year. Today, most of us average about 4 pounds per person. This is too bad, because, as the article goes on to point out, the health benefits of eating sweet potatoes are almost endless. They contain over three times the dietary fiber as cooked oats and white potatoes, high levels of potassium, B6, vitamin C, and most importantly, when discussing the benefits of eating the leafy sweet potato greens, a carotenoid called lutein. The greens are one of "the richest sources of dietary lutein, which helps protect against age-related macular degeneration."
The plants themselves also help attract pollinators and double as weed protection as the substantial vines sprawl throughout the garden.
The harvest was a grand success. Some of the tubers were close to football size. We roasted a few last night, and thoroughly enjoyed the greens creamed alongside our favorite local bratwurst.

I only wish the leaves were more agreeable in storing, but they do not like the cold of the fridge, and succumb to wilt as soon as they are tugged from the soil. The key is to run out to the garden and grab a fresh armful right before sounding the
dinner bell.

Creamed Sweet Potato Greens:
*2-3 cups sweet potato leaves, rinsed
*1 small onion, chopped
*2 Tbsp unsalted butter
*1 Tbsp AP flour
*1/2 cup raw cream
*sea salt and pepper
*a squeeze of fresh lemon
Rinse and chop sweet potato greens. Place butter in a medium saucepan over med/low heat. Add onions and saute until golden. Add the flour and whisk with a fork for 1 minute. Add the chopped greens. Stir. Pour in the cream and stir until thickened, about 1 minute. Add a splash of water if need be. Season with salt, pepper and squeeze of lemon. Enjoy!

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Comment by Christa Nelson on September 13, 2010 at 7:28pm
wow Rachel, that sounds great! .......i have a question........i have "sweet potato vine" that i've planted as greenage for the flower boxes on the deck, and after reading your post i googled around to see if these were edible like the vines from sweet potatoes, but i couldn't seem to find a definite answer.........any thoughts on this?
Comment by Rachel Brownlee on September 14, 2010 at 8:46am
Hi Christa. Great question. I know exactly which vines you are talking about. They come in lime green and purple, and usually overflow from pots and hanging baskets. From what I gather, this variety is bred more for ornamental purposes than for eating. You might be able to eat them, but I would stick to the garden varieties.
Comment by Lynda Reynolds on September 14, 2010 at 4:42pm
I had no idea you could eat the leaves of sweet potatoes...guess what's for dinner?

Comment by Dave Brannen on September 14, 2010 at 5:29pm
I would be real carefull with the ornamental sweet pot. vine. unles you planted the seed yourself or really trust the person you bought them from, you should assume they have been sprayed or treated somewhere before they got to you.
Comment by pat porte on September 27, 2010 at 10:01am
thanks for the great recipe ! there are not many to be found for these leaves. i've read to eat only the younger leaves and growing tips. you can steep the leaves in just boiled water to make a nutritious tea, then saute the same (drained) leaves. i find them to be a bit slimy . maybe the cream sauce will disguise this.


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