How to Prepare, Dehydrate, Use and Store Sweet Potatoes 

How to Prepare, Dehydrate, Use and Store Sweet Potatoes

I don't know about you, but I love yams! I like them in soups, sweet potato fries, baked with lots of butter and brown sugar, baked with just butter or "fully loaded" (like a white baked potato), or mashed — as in mashed like regular potatoes with lots of butter, salt and pepper.

Wait! I used "yams" right along with "sweet potatoes". Well . . . which are they? Actually, the words are often used interchangeably but they are not quite the same.

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What's the difference?

They're two different plants. The sweet potato is in the morning glory family, while yams are related to palms and grasses.

And they grow in different parts of the world: yams in Africa, where they originated, and also Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and Central America. Sweet potatoes in the United States, with North Carolina leading the way in production.

So at a typical supermarket, what you're buying is an American-grown sweet potato. True yams are imported and a rare find outside of ethnic grocery stores.


Let's Begin the Dehydrating Process

First thing to do is bake the potatoes. You can peel them raw, cut them in pieces, and boil, but I prefer to bake them, then peel and cut in pieces. Why? They are hard to cut when raw and easier to  peel after baking. (I'm all for easy.)

So here are my two sweet potatoes, already baked.

Baked Yams/Sweet Potatoes

Next,  slice them into smaller pieces.

Baked Yams/Sweet Potatoes

And even smaller pieces. I try to slice them as evenly as possible — about 1/4 inch thick. Any thicker and they take much longer to dehydrate completely.

Baked Yams/Sweet Potatoes

Then, on to the trays of my dehydrator, leaving just a bit of space between each slice.

Dehydrating Yams/Sweet Potatoes

In my Excalibur dehydrator, sweet potatoes should be dried at 125°F / 52°C for 7-11 hours. Since 7-11 hours is quite a difference in time, it's best to check them for brittleness starting about the 7th hour.

Okay — they're finished. You can tell when they're finished if they are brittle — not so brittle they snap in two, but they will not bend easily.

Dehydrated Yams/Sweet Potatoes

For storage, I vacuum packed them with my FoodSaver. Look at the packet on the left. Does it look totally vacuum packed to you? Well, it's not. I discovered that this is NOT the best way to store dehydrated foods with rather sharp edges. They punctured the plastic FoodSaver bag. So the best way to store them is in canning bottles, vacuum packed with the FoodSaver lid attachment.

Vacuum Packed Dehydrated Yams/Sweet Potatoes

Delicious Ways to Use Dehydrated Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potato Bark

Sweet potato bark is great to pack in a go-bag or take hiking. Just puree the cooked potatoes before dehydrating and spread the puree out on the ParaFlex sheets. Drying puree will take less time than slices. When completely dried, break into pieces and package.

For taste variations, try adding cinnamon, or salt and pepper, or any other spice you might like.

Sweet Potato Soup

Put some of the potato slices or the bark into a food processor and turn into a powder. This powder can be used as a thickening in Sweet Potato Soup, or any other type of soup.

Sweet Potato Dog Treats

Dogs love sweet potato chips (or so I'm told - I have cats and they don't care for them). If you are going to feed them to your dog, just dehydrate them until they are kind of chewy instead of brittle.

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