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Japanese sweet potatoes are an alternative to the cloying charms of the average yellow-fleshed type. (Fun fact: A sweet potato is neither a yam nor a potato.) The Japanese variety has burgundy skin, and its white flesh is less sweet and more floral.
Where to Buy: I found Japanese sweet potatoes from Laurel Grove Farms ($1.50/pound), Potomac Vegetable Farm ($2.50/pound), and Twin Springs Fruit Farm ($1.79/pound) at the Arlington Farmers’ Market in Courthouse. You should be able to find them at markets throughout the area for the next month.
How to Store: Do not refrigerate. Keep the sweet potatoes in a basket at room temperature, away from natural light. The Japanese variety does not store well, so use them within a week.
How to Prepare: Cook the sweet potatoes with skin for an extra nutritional punch (and the nice color). For easy, fast cleaning, try scrubbing the sweet potatoes with a pair of the $2 exfoliating gloves you’ll find in the cosmetics section of any drug store.
How to Cook: Martin Jolin of Twin Springs says the sweet potatoes need nothing more than a quick roast and some salt. Try them with carrots and onions tossed in canola oil. The skin maintains its color, and the insides turn a gray-purple when cooked. —Phoebe Connelly
Photo by Phoebe Connelly