Sweet potatoes & green apples

dried apple rings

Dried ring apples.sweet potatoes Sweet potatoes.

Here’s a recipe for a side dish with zing! that will brighten any heavy meal and have your guests showering you with compliments.

2-3 lbs sweet potatoes, scrubbed
2/3 cup finely chopped dried apples
1/2 cup apple cider
4 tbsp softened butter
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Coarse salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prick potato peels and place in oven on a sheet of aluminum foil (to catch drips). Bake 20 to 40 minutes depending on size of potato. When tender to a piercing fork, remove and allow to cool while you prepare the cider and apples.
Simmer apples and cider in a small pot over low heat until most of the cider has been absorbed and the pot is almost dry. This will take about 15 minutes.
Now cut sweet potatoes in half and scoop out the insides to a large pot. Mash thoroughly. Whisk in butter and then stir in the apples, lemon juice and salt. Serve warm.

Make your own dried apples
Got a bumper crop of apples you don’t know how to use? Try drying them. They will take up less space and you’ll have their goodness for a long time.
1. Core and slice apples into rings about 1/4 inch thick. You can peel first or leave unpeeled – it’s up to you.
2. Soak the slices in a mild solution of lemon juice or ascorbic acid (more effective but you may prefer the natural course) to reduce browning.
3. String slices on a string and hang in a cool place to dry. This may take a few weeks. They will brown a bit, but this has no effect on their taste.
4. Store dried apples in a covered container in a dark place.

Sweet potato virtues
Very high in vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene (200 g will give you 65% of your daily needs)
Excellent source of vitamin C and manganese
Good source of vitamin B6 and dietary fibre
Source of potassium, iron, and copper
Growing Sweet potatoes
As a general rule, we cannot grow sweet potatoes in Canadian gardens (sigh). Over 90 per cent of them are grown in Africa or in the southern U.S. However, some people (mostly from the Maritimes), being adventurous and ever curious gardeners, have had luck growing them in large containers such as half barrels. The soil needs to remain above plus 10 degree C, so choose the sunniest and warmest spot possible and cover the soil with plastic mulch a few weeks before planting for greater assurance. To be successful, you need at least 100 frost-free days, because they have no tolerance at all for frost.
If you want to give it a try, start the plants indoors from a slip (a shoot from a sweet potato) which are available in Canada from suppliers such as Mapple Farms (www.mapplefarms.com in Weldon, New Brunswick).  Plant them out about the same time you put out your eggplants and peppers (perhaps as late as early June). Plant the way you plant tomatoes, placing as much of the stem below ground as possible while still leaving a few leaves for photosynthesis.
Do not add nitrogen, however, sweet potatoes will benefit from a little wood ash. Start thinking harvest in late August. They don’t do much growing at soil temperatures below 18 degree C and will be harmed when the soil temperature falls to below 10 degrees C.
Good luck!