How do you cook sweet potato leaves?

mauirose(11)July 11, 2009

Seems like i accidentally planted some Okinawan Sweet potatoes in a small raised bed. The vines are quite vigorous so i am going with it. i have heard that the young shoots are good to eat, in fact i just saw an ad on Craig's list from someone who is selling! Anyone here know a good preparation for the leaves?

i've had a fijian soup with taro leaves and coconut milk before which was delicious. Would the sweet potato leaves would be a good substitute?

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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

I've always eaten them as greens, prepared like water spinach (kang kong) - boiled, then seasoned with vinegar & garlic powder. Not all varieties are suitable for this, the leaves of some can be unpleasantly bitter.

The best SP greens were from shoots purchased at an Asian market. I ate the leaves, and planted the stems... a practice I recommend, since you get to taste before you plant. Once grown, the plants from these stems also produced white, very dry tubers... but up to 3 feet away from the plant in any direction, and up to 1 foot down!!! After playing hide-and-seek with a few of these, I gave up on them. Probably left 50 pounds in the ground to freeze. :-(

    Bookmark   July 13, 2009 at 1:22AM
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LOL, talk about a treasure hunt!

i found a recipe excerpted from a book called 'cooking with asian leaves' that sounds a little like what you describe-Soak in boiling water for a few minutes, drain, stir-fry with garlic. Doesn't sound like they can be eated raw which is a shame since i am the only one in my house who will eat cooked greens. The potatoes will be another story, hope they are easier to find than yours!

'Cooking with Asian Leaves' sounds like a cool little book but unfortunately my library doesn't carry a copy.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 1:52PM
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Mauirose - When did you plant your Okinawan sweet potatoes? I planted mine about a month ago, and they are doing okay, but not really spreading out much. Of course, I imagine the many days of temperatures over 100 F probably aren't helping...

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 10:16PM
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they were planted last December but not on purpose. i was backfilling a raised bed and layered some dried out (i thought) sweet potatoe roots and clippings to provide organic matter. When the shoots first came up i pulled them but they were so willing and healthy that i finally just let them go. i can be quite disorderly that way ; )

i was growing greens in this bed so it was well amended and well watered.

Your potatoes sound like they are doing ok-a month is still pretty young. i understand that sweet potatoes in general are a warm weather crop but i don't have experience with the temps you get.

The first time i grew these i had trouble with leaf footed bugs as well as something boring into the vines but no problems so far with this batch. i hope it is the vigor of the plants that is the difference!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2009 at 1:47PM
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Thank you all for telling me that I have been throwing away a valuable food source for years. I spotted SP leaves in the veg section of our Vietnamese market today and searched to see how they use them. This is great news. Not only is it good to eat it is healthy, I found it is strong medecine for chloresterol and high BP and prescribed in Asia and Africa. I left broken roots in the rows I replanted turnips in this fall and they are coming up again which is good! They would not make potatoes but add a winter green for us to enjoy, a great new discovery.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2010 at 8:45PM
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Tinkertom, I'm glad you found SP leaves in the market. Did you kike it? We plant the stems every April/May to harvest the leaves in summer. I don't think it grows well when it's cold.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 3:38AM
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yukkuri_kame(Sunset 19 / USDA 9)

Love asian sweet potatoes. I have a couple of Japanese varieties in my garden. Here in S. Florida they are perennial, so when the vines start getting longish, I strip most of the leaves to eat except the very end, stick the cuttings in water until they have nice roots and then plant them out, so there is an endless supply of new plants.

I put the leaves (including the leaf stems) in stir fry & soups. I also lightly sauteed some in toasted sesame oil with just salt, and that was delicious. The vines themselves are very sweet, but fibrous. They ooze a sweet whitish sap. Could probably extract the sweetness by chopping up then boiling and discarding the fibers, or running the stems through a juicer.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2010 at 11:15AM
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Hi mauirose-- the sweet potato article on wikipedia states that sweet potato leaves are used raw in salads sometimes.

"Young leaves and shoots (locally known as talbos ng kamote or camote tops) are eaten fresh in salads with shrimp paste (bagoong alamang) or fish sauce."

So maybe they might indeed be okay/good in a mixed leaf salad? One thing about most of the cultures that use sweet potato leaves is that they don't seem to have raw leaf salads in their culinary traditions much.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 8:16AM
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"So maybe they might indeed be okay/good in a mixed leaf salad? One thing about most of the cultures that use sweet potato leaves is that they don't seem to have raw leaf salads in their culinary traditions much."

I don't think raw sweet potato leaves would be good. I never tried it but I have some from the market and I can give them a bit of a taste tonight and let you know.

I usually just clean them and stir fry them with some garlic. Yum.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 2:24PM
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After fighting to control sweet potato vines in our veggie garden, we came across a site recommending cooking the leaves. We snip them from the vines, and the tender ends of the vines as well, and "wilt" them in a pan with 1/4" of chicken broth. FINALLY, a way to control the vines while waiting for the potatoes to mature! Win-Win! They are delicious.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 2:32PM
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My 4 year old gets credit for this one.
Okinawan sweet potato leaves in a rice cooker and add chicken broth as the water to cook the rice - too easy and tastes great. We just put the rice in with the chicken broth, and threw the leaves on top. Super easy and tasty.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 8:50PM
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chervil2(z5 MA)

Has anyone grown this crop in zone 5 and would be willing to share their growing experiences? I want to have my own crop. I think I have bought the leaves in my local Vietnamese market without knowing the identity. Also, do you have a recommended vendor for the stock seed? Thanks!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 8:38AM
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I was waiting for my take out order in a Chinese restaurant & looking at the potted plants(anyone say Plant Freak), it was a sweet potato plant. A young Asian girl ask me if I knew what the plant was.
I said yes it was a sweet potato plant, that we eat 100 ways here in the South. She then told me of a new way, wilted in a hot fry pan, add salt & peppers to taste.
She was here in College & missed her mother sweet potato leaves.
zeedman, I am going to try your trick next year, but put them in a drum & see if that will KEEP them TOGETHER.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 10:46PM
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Are Okinawan Sweet potatoes purple-fleshed? I tried to grow which I bought from the flea market, but failed many times.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2014 at 5:59PM
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The real young tender tips flowers and leaves I use in salads. the bigger leaves I cook in any way I would use other greens.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2014 at 9:11PM
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I'm hoping to grow and eat the chartruese and the purple leaved varieties when the local nursery sells them in spring. So pretty !! Great in a huge pot with flowers planted in the center,

    Bookmark   February 5, 2015 at 8:07PM
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