Thursday, May 27, 2010

Home Grown Greens/Herbs: Sweet Potato/Yam Leaves (Ipomea batatas)

I like the idea of having something growing so that you can pick a few leaves to add freshness to the day's menu. Sweet Potato/yam (Ipomoea batatas) leaves are very easy to grow and absolutely delicious; for clarification of the name yam, check here. It is another dark green leafy veggie that you can add to your repertoire of home grown leaves. Whether you get heart-shaped or deeply divided leaves, the plant is quite handsome as a potted plant. All one needs to grow the leaves is a sweet potato; there are two methods that can be used for growing it:
  1. Place the whole potato in a dark cupboard and leave it undisturbed for a few weeks; it will sprout in its own time. You will see vines sprouting out.
  2. Place the potato in a jar of water and wait for it to sprout; soon roots and vines will start to grow.
Choose either method (or both) and once sprouts start to grow, you can plant the whole potato with the vines attached in a large pot and watch the vines grow. Sweet potato is a member of the morning glory family; one would realize that when the beautiful flowers appear - mine had lovely lavender ones.

I grow sweet potatoes specifically for their delicious leaves and not the roots as they require lots of space and time. I have stir fried , sauteed, or added the leaves to soup and they turned out great in every case. Use them anywhere you might use spinach; sweet potato leaves have none of the astringent quality of spinach at all. They are very mild and lend themselves to all sorts of possibilities. Try them in Thoran, Aloo Palak, etc.

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