Sweet Talk

Produce Basics - Sweet PotatoPardon the goofy title, but this week we’re talking sweet…potatoes that is! Have you given sweet potatoes a try? If you are unsure about them,it might help to think beyond the casserole with marshmallows on the top. They can be used in many of the same ways as white potatoes. They are delicious roasted, mashed, baked or even as French fries.

Choosing sweet potatoes is simple. Their skins should be relatively smooth with few dents and the flesh of the potato should be firm. Avoid potatoes with cracks, soft spots or sprouts. Sweet potatoes usually last for a month or so when stored in a cool dark area.

It is perfectly safe to eat sweet potatoes skin. Just give them a good scrub and enjoy. Our Sweet Potato Produce Basics publication has all of the info you need to choose, clean and prepare sweet potatoes.

Stay tuned throughout this month while we share more reasons why we are sweet on sweet potatoes!

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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Watermelon: How to Pick a Good One

I love watermelon. I remember my grandfather cutting giant melons on his front porch and giving all the grandkids a slice. Back then all the watermelons had seeds that we spit out on the grass. Melons were also a lot bigger. They often weighed over 20 pounds and sold for around $.06 a pound!watermelon slices

It’s still hard to pick a good watermelon. Here are some suggestions I found:

  1. Choose watermelons that are symmetrical with no soft spots. Odd bumps and curves can mean it was grown with irregular runs of water or sun.
  2. Look for a creamy patch. It’s called the ‘field spot’ — the place where the watermelon rested on the ground. The deeper in color, the longer the fully grown melon was on the vine getting sweet. A yellow field spot is better than white, but white is better than no patch at all.
  3. Pick it up. Your watermelon should feel heavy for its size. Compare its weight with one of similar size.

Safety first

When you get your melon home make sure you wash it. According to the FDA, you should wash all fruits and vegetables under clean, running water before eating them. This is true for all fruits and veggies–rinds or not! You should also use clean knives and cutting surfaces, and make sure you have washed your hands prior to preparing the watermelon for eating.

Buy a dud? Return it!

If you get an unripe or over-ripe melon home, take it back and get another one or your money back.  I called 4 local grocery stores today (Wal-Mart, Hy-Vee, Fareway and Dahls) and they all said they would refund or replace the melon. It is best if you have your receipt with you.

Feeling creative and interested in making a fun watermelon display? Check out the watermelon carvings posted by the ©National Watermelon Promotion Board for some neat ideas.

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