What The Heck Is A Batata?

Where these sweet, white root vegetables come from, and what to do with them once you get a few.

Description: Batatas are white sweet potatoes native to South and Central America. This root vegetable is known by many names, depending on where you plant your flag, including boniato, tropical sweet potato, Cuban sweet potato, batiste, and camote. Note that batatas and all sweet potatoes (of which there are 6,500 varieties!) are in the Morning Glory or Convolvulaceae plant family, and are not the same thing as a potato (the Solanaceae family) or as a yam (in the Dioscoreaceae family and native to Africa). Something to bring up next Thanksgiving when Aunt Louise serves her famous sweet-potato (ahem, yam) casserole.

Flavor Profile: Batatas are a tad milder and sweeter than orange-fleshed sweet potatoes.  

Selecting a Good One: Select batatas that are firm to the touch and that have smooth skins with few or no marks. Additionally, small batatas are preferred as they will be more flavorful and have a better consistency when cooked.

Uses: Bake whole or peel them then boil, roast, or microwave. A batata can be a substitute for the sweet potato in sweet-potato pie or an ingredient in vegetable soups. 

Storing: Batatas will last at home for up to one week, preferably in a climate that averages around 55°F. They don’t need to be refrigerated.



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