Fruit Of The Week AVOCADO

avocado

The avocado (Persea americana), also known as palta or aguacate (Spanish), butter pear or alligator pear, is a tree native to the Caribbean, Mexico, South America and Central America, classified in the flowering plant family Lauraceae. The name “avocado” also refers to the fruit (technically a large berry) of the kupa shell that contains a pit (hard seed casing) which may be egg-shaped or spherical.

Avocados are a commercially valuable crop whose trees and fruit are cultivated in tropical climates throughout the world (and some temperate ones, such as California), producing a green-skinned, pear-shaped fruit that ripens after harvesting. Trees are partially self-pollinating and often are propagated through grafting to maintain a predictable quality and quantity of the fruit.

History

P. americana, or the avocado, has a long history of cultivation in Central and South America; a water jar shaped like an avocado, dating to A.D. 900, was discovered in the pre-Incan city of Chan Chan. The earliest known written account of the avocado in Europe is that of Martín Fernández de Enciso (c. 1470–c. 1528) in 1518 or 1519 in his book, Suma de Geografía que Trata de Todas las Partidas y Provincias del Mundo. The first written record in English of the use of the word ‘avocado’ was by Hans Sloane in a 1696 index of Jamaican plants. The plant was introduced to Indonesia in 1750, Brazil in 1809, the Levant in 1908, and South Africa and Australia in the late 19th century.

Etymology

The word “avocado” comes from the Nahuatl word āhuacatl (“testicle”, a reference to the shape of the fruit).[4] Historically avocados had a long-standing stigma as a sexual stimulant and were not purchased or consumed by any person wishing to preserve a chaste image. Avocados were known by the Aztecs as “the fertility fruit”. In some countries of South America such as Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, and Uruguay, the avocado is known by its Quechua name, palta. In other Spanish-speaking countries it is called aguacate, and in Portuguese it is abacate. The fruit is sometimes called an avocado pear and alligator pear (due to its shape and the rough green skin of some cultivars). The Nahuatl āhuacatl can be compounded with other words, as in āhuacamolli, meaning “avocado soup or sauce”, from which the Mexican Spanish word guacamole derives.

Uses

The fruit of horticultural cultivars ranges from more or less round to egg- or pear-shaped, typically the size of a temperate-zone pear or larger, on the outside bright green to green-brown (or almost black) in color. The fruit has a markedly higher fat content than most other fruit, mostly monounsaturated fat, and as such serves as an important staple in the diet of various groups where access to other fatty foods (high-fat meats and fish, dairy, etc) is limited. A ripe avocado will yield to a gentle pressure when held in the palm of the hand and squeezed. The flesh is typically greenish yellow to golden yellow when ripe. The flesh is prone to enzymatic browning and turns brown quickly after exposure to air. To prevent this, lime or lemon juice can be added to avocados after they are peeled.

 

The avocado is very popular in vegetarian cuisine, making an excellent substitute for meats in sandwiches and salads because of its high fat content. The fruit is not sweet, but fatty, distinctly yet subtly flavored, and of smooth, almost creamy texture. It is used as the base for the Mexican dip known as guacamole, as well as a filling for several kinds of sushi, including California rolls. Avocado is popular in chicken dishes and as a spread on toast, served with salt and pepper. In Brazil and Vietnam, avocados are frequently used for milk-shakes and occasionally added to ice cream and other desserts. In Brazil, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia, a dessert drink is made with sugar, milk or water, and pureed avocado. Chocolate syrup is sometimes added. In Australia it is commonly served in sandwiches, often with chicken. In Ghana, it’s often eaten alone in sliced bread as a sandwich.

In Mexico and Central America, avocados are served mixed with white rice, in soups, salads, or on the side of chicken and meat. In Peru avocados are consumed with tequeños as mayonnaise, served as a side dish with parrillas, used in salads and sandwiches, or as a whole dish when filled with tuna, shrimps, or chicken. In Chile is used as a puree in chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs, and in slices for celery or lettuce salads. The Chilean version of caesar salad contains large slices of mature avocado. In Kenya, the avocado is often eaten as a fruit, and is eaten alone, or mixed with other fruits in a fruit salad, or as part of a vegetable salad.

The fruit was the basis for the original alcoholic drink Advocaat, made by the Dutch population of Suriname and Recife, with the name deriving from the same source.

Toxicity To Animals

There is documented evidence that animals such as cats, dogs, cattle, goats, rabbits, rats, birds, fish and horses can be severely harmed or even killed when they consume the avocado leaves, bark, skin, or pit. The avocado fruit is poisonous to some birds, and the ASPCA and many other sites list it as toxic to many animals including cats, dogs, and horses. Avocado is an ingredient in AvoDerm dog food and cat food. However, the ASPCA has declined to say whether this food is safe or not without knowing the details of how the avocado is processed.

Avocado leaves contain a toxic fatty acid derivative known as persin, which in sufficient quantity can cause equine colic and, with lack of veterinary treatment, death. The symptoms include gastrointestinal irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory distress, congestion, fluid accumulation around the tissues of the heart and even death. Birds also seem to be particularly sensitive to this toxic compound. Negative effects in humans seem to be primarily in allergic individuals.

Co-evolution

The avocado may be an example of an ‘evolutionary anachronism’, a fruit adapted for ecological relationship with now-extinct large mammals (such as the giant ground sloth or the Gomphothere). Most large fleshy fruits serve the function of seed dispersal, accomplished by their consumption by large animals. Author Connie Barlow hypothesizes that the fruit, with its mildly toxic pit, may have co-evolved with Pleistocene megafauna to be swallowed whole and excreted in their dung, ready to sprout. No extant native animal is large enough to effectively disperse avocado seeds in this fashion. When the avocado’s hypothesized ecological partners disappeared the avocado likely would have gone extinct, or evolved a different fruit morphology, if human cultivation had not maintained this “ghost of evolution.”

Recipes

You can Find number of recipes with avocado in Ayesha’s Kitchen:

Vegetable Of The Week GREEN CHILLI

green-chilli-1

Chili pepper (also known as, or spelled, chilli pepper, chilli, chili, and chile) is the fruit of the plants from the genus Capsicum, members of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Botany considers the plant a berry bush. Depending on flavor intensity and fleshiness, their culinary use varies from use as a vegetable (eg. bell pepper) to use as a spice (eg. cayenne pepper). It is the fruit that is harvested.

Chili peppers originated in the Americas; and their cultivars are now grown around the world, because they are widely used as food and as medicine.

History

Chili peppers have been a part of the human diet in the Americas since at least 7500 BC. There is archaeological evidence at sites located in southwestern Ecuador that chili peppers were domesticated more than 6000 years ago, and is one of the first cultivated crops in the Americas that is self-pollinating.

Chili peppers were domesticated at least in different parts of South and Middle America.

Christopher Columbus was one of the first Europeans to encounter them (in the Caribbean), and called them “peppers” because of their similarity in taste (though not in appearance) with the Old World Black peppers of the Piper genus.

Chilies were cultivated around the globe after Columbus. Diego Álvarez Chanca, a physician on Columbus’ second voyage to the West Indies in 1493, brought the first chili peppers to Spain, and first wrote about their medicinal effects in 1494.

From Mexico, at the time the Spanish colony that controlled commerce with Asia, chili peppers spread rapidly into the Philippines and then to India, China, Korea and Japan. They were quickly incorporated into the local cuisines.

An alternate sequence for chili peppers’ spread has the Portuguese getting the pepper from Spain, and thence to India, as described by Lizzie Collingham in her book Curry. Collingham states in her book that the chili pepper figures heavily in the cuisine of the Goan region of India, which was the site of a Portuguese colony (e.g. Vindaloo, an Indian interpretation of a Portuguese dish). Collingham also describes the journey of chili peppers from India, through Central Asia and Turkey, to Hungary, where it became the national spice in the form of paprika.

There are speculations about pre-Columbian chili peppers in Europe. In an archaeological dig in the block of St. Botulf in Lund, archaeologists found a Capsicum frutescens in a layer dating to the 13th century. Hjelmqvist says that Capsicum was described by the Greek Theophrastus (370-286 BC). He mentions other ancient sources. The Roman poet Martialis (around the 1st century) described “Piper crudum” (raw pepper) to be long and containing seeds. The description of the plants does not fit Black pepper (Piper nigrum), which grows poorly in European climates.

The Black Habanero (Chocolate Habanero, Habanero Negro), is thought to be the closest to the original peppers that grew in the South American coastal plains.[citation needed] It is known to gourmets but rarely available, due in part to its long maturity. Seeds are available today but care is needed when purchasing as many sub species are sold under the same name.

Intensity

The substances that give chili peppers their intensity when ingested or applied topically are capsaicin (8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide) and several related chemicals, collectively called capsaicinoids. Capsaicin is the primary ingredient in pepper spray.

When consumed, capsaicinoids bind with pain receptors in the mouth and throat that are normally responsible for sensing heat. Once activated by the capsaicinoids, these receptors send a message to the brain that the person has consumed something hot. The brain responds to the burning sensation by raising the heart rate, increasing perspiration and release of endorphins. A 2008 study reports that capsaicin alters how the body’s cells use energy produced by hydrolysis of ATP. In the normal hydrolysis the SERCA protein uses this energy to move calcium ions into the sarcoplasmic reticulum. When capsaicin is present, it alters the conformation of the SERCA and thus reduces the ion movement; as a result the ATP energy (which would have been used to pump the ions) is instead released as heat.

The “heat” of chili peppers is measured in Scoville heat units (SHU), which is the number of times a chili extract must be diluted in water for it to lose its heat. Bell peppers rank at 0 SHU, New Mexico green chilis at about 1,500 SHU, jalapeños at 3,000–6,000 SHU, and habaneros at 300,000 SHU. The record for the hottest chili pepper was assigned by the Guinness Book of Records to the Naga Jolokia, measuring over 1,000,000 SHU. Pure capsaicin, which is a hydrophobic, colorless, odorless, and crystalline-to-waxy solid at room temperature, measures 16,000,000 SHU.

Uses

Culinary Uses

The chili has a long association with and is extensively used in Mexican and certain South American cuisines, and later adapted into the emerging Tex-Mex cuisine. Although unknown in Africa and Asia until its introduction from the New World by the Europeans, the chili pepper has since become an essential pillar of the cuisines of Eritrea,Ethiopia, Nepal, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Southwest China (including Sichuan cuisine), Sri Lanka, Thailand, West Africa and many other cooking traditions.

The fruit is eaten raw or cooked for its fiery hot flavour, concentrated along the top of the pod. The stem end of the pod has most of the glands that produce the capsaicin. The white flesh surrounding the seeds contains the highest concentration of capsaicin. Removing the inner membranes is thus effective at reducing the heat of a pod.

Fresh Indian Green Chilis sold in HAL market, BangaloreChili is sold worldwide fresh, dried and powdered. In the United States, it is often made from the Mexican chile ancho variety, but with small amounts of cayenne added for heat. In the Southwest United States, dried ground chili peppers, cumin, garlic and oregano is often known as chili powder. Chipotles are dry, smoked red (ripe) jalapeños.

Chili peppers are used around the world to make a countless variety of sauces, known as hot sauce, chile sauce, or pepper sauce. In Turkey, chilis are known as Kırmızı Biber (Red Pepper) or Acı Biber (Hot Pepper), and are used in the form of either red pepper paste (Biber Salçasi) which can be hot or mild. Harissa is a hot pepper sauce made of chili, garlic and flavoured with spices, originating in Tunisia and widely used in its cuisine, both as a condiment and as seasoning. Harissa is also found in other North African cuisines, though it is often treated as a table condiment to be served on the side.

Indian cooking has multiple uses for chilis, from simple snacks like bhaji where the chilis are dipped in batter and fried, to wonderfully complex curries. Chilis are dried, roasted and salted as a side dish for rice varieties such as dadhyodanam (“dadhi” curd, “odanam” rice in Sanskrit) or Thayir sadam (curd rice) or Daal Rice (rice with lentils). The soaked and dried chillies are a seasoning ingredient in recipes such as kootu. It is called “mirapa” (మిరప)in telugu.

Sambal is a versatile relish made from chili peppers as well as other ingredients such as garlic, onion, shallots, salt, vinegar and sugar, which is popular in Indonesia and Malaysia, and also in Sri Lanka (called “sambol”) and South Africa, where they were introduced by Malay migrant workers who arrived in the 19th century. It can be used as a dipping sauce, as an ingredient in recipes and even as a dressing for cold dishes (or “salads”).

Chili pepper plant leaves, mildly bitter but not nearly as hot as the fruits that come from the same plant, are cooked as greens in Filipino cuisine, where they are called dahon ng sili (literally “chili leaves”). They are used in the chicken soup, tinola. In Korean cuisine, the leaves may be used in kimchi. (풋고추잎 깍두기).[12] In Japanese cuisine, the leaves are cooked as greens, and also cooked in tsukudani style for preservation.

In Italian cuisine crushed red pepper flakes are a common ingredient on pizza among other things. It is also commonly used in Turkey as a garnish, called Biber Dövme.

Decoration

Some chili peppers are not grown for consumption, they are instead grown for decorative qualities: “ornamental peppers”. Some are too hot for typical cooking, or are not palatable. Regardless, ornamental peppers have unusual shapes or colours. Examples include Thai Ornamental, Black Pearl, Marble, and Numex Twilight. The Medusa pepper is a green plant that produces fruit starting purple, then ripening to yellow, orange, and red. Black Pearl has black leaves and round black fruit that ripen to a bright red.

Superstition

In India, chili is used with lime to ward off evil spirits and is seen in vehicles and in homes for that purpose. It is used to check the evil eye and remove its effects in Hinduism as people will also be asked to spit into a handful of chilies kept in that plate, which are thrown into fire. If the chilis make a noise – as they should – then there is no case of “drishti” (evil eye); if on the other hand they do not, then the spell of the evil eye is removed in the fire.

Nutritional Value

Red chilis contain high amounts of vitamin C and carotene (“provitamin A”). Yellow and especially green chilis (which are essentially unripe fruit) contain a considerably lower amount of both substances. In addition, peppers are a good source of most B vitamins, and vitamin B6 in particular. They are very high in potassium and high in magnesium and iron. Their high vitamin C content can also substantially increase the uptake of non-heme iron from other ingredients in a meal, such as beans and grains.

Psychologist Paul Rozin suggests that eating chilis is an example of a “constrained risk” like riding a roller coaster, in which extreme sensations like pain and fear can be enjoyed because individuals know that these sensations are not actually harmful. This method lets people experience extreme feelings without any risk of bodily harm.

Evolutionary Advantages

Birds do not have the same sensitivity to capsaicin because it targets a specific pain receptor in mammals. Chili peppers are eaten by birds living in the chili peppers’ natural range. The seeds of the peppers are distributed by the birds that drop the seeds while eating the pods, and the seeds pass through the digestive tract unharmed. This relationship may have promoted the evolution of the protective capsaicin. Products based on this substance have been sold to treat the seeds in bird feeders to deter squirrels and other mammalian vermin without also deterring birds. Capsaicin is also a defense mechanism against microbial fungi that invades through punctures made in the outer skin by various insects.

Spelling And Usage

The three primary spellings are chili, chile and chilli, all of which are recognized by dictionaries.

Chili is widely used, although in much of South America the plant and its fruit are better known as ají, locoto, chile, or rocoto. However, this spelling is discouraged by some in the United States of America, since it also commonly refers to a popular Southwestern-American dish (also known as chili con carne (literally chili with meat); the official state dish of Texas[16]), as well as to the mixture of cumin and other spices (chili powder) used to flavor it. Chili, as in the case of Cincinnati chili, can also refer to ground beef stews that do not actually contain any chile peppers. Chili powder and chile powder, on the other hand, can both refer to dried, ground chili peppers.

Chile is an alternate usage, the most common Spanish spelling in Mexico, as well as some parts of the United States of America and Canada, which refers specifically to this plant and its fruit. In the American southwest (particularly northern New Mexico), chile also denotes a thick, spicy, un-vinegared sauce, which is available in red and green varieties and which is often served over most New Mexican cuisine.

Chilli was the original Romanization of the Náhuatl language word for the fruit (chīlli) and is the preferred British spelling according to the Oxford English Dictionary, although it also lists chile and chili as variants. This spelling is discouraged by some, since it would be pronounced differently in Spanish, into which it was first Romanized.

The name of the plant bears no relation to Chile, the country, which is named after the Quechua chin (“cold”), tchili (“snow”), or chilli (“where the land ends”). Chile is one of the Spanish-speaking countries where chilis are known as ají, a word of Taíno origin.

There is also some disagreement about whether it is proper to use the word pepper when discussing chili peppers because pepper originally referred to the genus Piper, not Capsicum. Despite this dispute, a sense of pepper referring to Capsicum is supported by English dictionaries, including the Oxford English Dictionary (sense 2b of pepper) and Merriam-Webster.[19] Furthermore, the word pepper is commonly used in the botanical and culinary fields in the names of different types of chili peppers.

Recipes:

You can Find number of recipes containing green chillies in Ayesha’s Kitchen:

Vegetable Mushroom Rice

Baked Chicken With Vegetables

Vegetarian Pizza

Vegetarian Pizza is specially For those people who avoid chicken or other kind of meat. This is a very tasty pizza and it looks very good. First time when I made this, my Family enjoyed it alot …

Ingredients:

  • One thin crust pizza base
  • 4 tbspns sliced olives
  • 1 tbspn olive oil
  • 2 tbspns pizza sauce
  • ½ cup thinly sliced capsicum
  • ½ cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup grated pizza cheese or mozzarella cheese

Procedure:

-Preheat oven to 195 degrees Celsius.

-Prepare a pizza base. Apply some olive oil on its sides and then spread pizza sauce all over it.

-Sprinkle pizza cheese on it.

-Place toppings and put it in a preheated oven For 20 – 25 minutes or until golden brown.

-Take it out From the oven and set aside For 5 minutes.

Outcome:

Slice it and serve.

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Tips:

-Take it out From the oven and set aside For 5 minutes.

Servings:

This will serve 4 persons easily.

Chicken 65

Chicken 65 is a recipe with many stories behind, some poeple say it was a top recipe in 1965, some say it is made up of 65 ingredients, some say the chicken used in this dish should be 65 days older, etc., but the real story behind it is that this recipe was originated in Military canteen in Tamil naro, there were so many dishes written in Tamil and military men didn’t know how to speak Tamil, so to overcome the language problem and to order something with chicken, they used the serial number of this dish as its name, i.e., Chicken 65. It is a spicy and tasty dish From India. Do try this and make my day …

Ingredients:

FOR CHICKEN

  • 2 cup chicken boneless
  • 1 tbspn ginger garlic paste
  • Little bit of salt
  • ½ tspn Chinese salt (Ajinomoto)
  • ½ cup corn Flour
  • An egg
  • ½ tspn black pepper
  • Oil For Frying

FOR SIMMERED CURRY

  • 1 tspn cumin seeds
  • 6 curry leaves
  • 6 green chillies slitted
  • Some salt
  • 4 tbspns chilli garlic paste
  • ½ tspn garlic paste
  • A pinch of red chilli powder
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 tspn Chinese salt (Ajinomoto)
  • Few drops of red colour
  • ¼ cup water

Procedure:

-Marinade chicken chunks in salt, black pepper, ginger garlic paste and Ajinomoto For 5 minutes.

-Now add corn Flour and mix well with your hands.  

-Add egg and again mix well.

-Heat oil and Fry these chicken chunks until they are golden.

-Take them out on an absorbent paper.

-For curry, heat oil and add cumin seeds. When they begin to splutter add green chillies, ginger garlic paste, red chilli powder and curry leaves. Stir cook until they are soft. Add chilli garlic paste and just before adding chicken add some water and red colour.

-Now add chicken and mix vigorously until the curry is coated on chicken chunks well.

Outcome:

Remove From heat and serve hot with parathas.

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Tips:

-Do not add much water, just ¼ cup or less.

Servings:

This will serve 4 persons easily.

Fruit Of The Week CHERRY

large4cherries

The word cherry refers to a fleshy fruit (drupe) that contains a single stony seed. The cherry belongs to the family Rosaceae, genus Prunus, along with almonds, peaches, plums, apricots and bird cherries. The subgenus, Cerasus, is distinguished by having the flowers in small corymbs of several together (not singly, nor in racemes), and by having a smooth fruit with only a weak groove or none along one side. The subgenus is native to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, with two species in America, three in Europe, and the remainder in Asia.

Food Value

Cherries contain anthocyanins, the red pigment in berries. Cherry anthocyanins have been shown to reduce pain and inflammation in rats. Anthocyanins are also potent antioxidants under active research for a variety of potential health benefits. According to a study funded by the Cherry Marketing Institute presented at the Experimental Biology 2008 meeting in San Diego, rats that received whole tart cherry powder mixed into a high-fat diet did not gain as much weight or build up as much body fat, and their blood showed much lower levels of inflammation indicators that have been linked to heart disease and diabetes. In addition, they had significantly lower blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides than the other rats.

Cultivation

The Wild Cherry (P. avium) has given rise to the Sweet Cherry, to which most cherry cultivars belong, and the Sour Cherry (P. cerasus), which is used mainly for cooking. Both species originate in Europe and western Asia; they do not cross-pollinate. The other species, although having edible fruit, are not grown extensively for consumption, except in northern regions where the two main species will not grow. Irrigation, spraying, labor and their propensity to damage from rain and hail make cherries relatively expensive. Nonetheless, there is high demand for the fruit.

Growing season

Cherries have a very short growing season and can grow anywhere, including the great cold of the tundra.[citation needed] In Australia they are usually at their peak around Christmas time, in southern Europe in June, in North America in June, and in the UK in mid July, always in the summer season. In many parts of North America they are among the first tree fruits to ripen.

Ornamental Cherry trees

Besides the fruit, cherries also have attractive flowers, and they are commonly planted for their flower display in spring; several of the Asian cherries are particularly noted for their flower displays. The Japanese sakura in particular are a national symbol celebrated in the yearly Hanami festival. Many flowering cherry cultivars (known as “ornamental cherries”) have the stamens and pistils replaced by additional petals (“double” flowers), so are sterile and do not bear fruit. They are grown purely for their flowers and decorative value. The most common of these sterile cherries is the cultivar “Kanzan”.

Commercial Orchadding And Production

Annual world production (as of 2007) of domesticated cherries is about two million tonnes. Around 40% of world production originates in Europe and around 13% in the United States. The US is the world’s second largest single country producer, after Turkey.[8]

Europe

Major commercial cherry orchards in Europe extend from the Iberian peninsula east to Asia Minor, and to a smaller extent may also be grown in the Baltic States and southern Scandinavia.

United States

In the United States, most sweet cherries are grown in Washington, California, Oregon, and Northern Michigan. Important sweet cherry cultivars include “Bing”, “Brooks”, “Tulare”, “King” and “Rainier”. Both Oregon and Michigan provide light-colored “Royal Ann” (‘Napoleon'; alternately “Queen Anne”) cherries for the maraschino cherry process. Most sour (also called tart) cherries are grown in Michigan, followed by Utah, New York, and Washington[9]. Additionally, native and non-native cherries grow well in Canada (Ontario and British Columbia). Sour cherries include Nanking and Evans Cherry. Traverse City, Michigan claims to be the “Cherry Capital of the World”, hosting a National Cherry Festival and making the world’s largest cherry pie. The specific region of Northern Michigan that is known the world over for tart cherry production is referred to as the “Traverse Bay” region. Farms in this region grown many varieties of cherries, sold through companies in the region.

Australia

In Australia, the New South Wales town of Young is famous as the “Cherry Capital of Australia” and hosts the internationally famous National Cherry Festival. Popular varieties include the “Montmorency”, “Morello”, “North Star”, “Early Richmond”, “Titans”, and “Lamberts”.

Recipes

You can Find number of recipes with cherries in Ayesha’s Kitchen.

Vegetable Of The Week KUMARA

kumara

The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is a dicotyledonous plant which belongs to the family Convolvulaceae. Amongst the approximately 50 genera and more than 1000 species of this family, only I. batatas is a crop plant whose large, starchy, sweet tasting tuberous roots are an important root vegetable (Purseglove, 1991; Woolfe, 1992). The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens. The sweet potato is only distantly related to the potato (Solanum tuberosum). It is commonly confused with a yam in parts of North America, although they are only very distantly related to the other plant widely known as yams (in the Dioscoreaceae family), which is native to Africa and Asia.

The genus Ipomoea that contains the sweet potato also includes several garden flowers called morning glories, though that term is not usually extended to Ipomoea batatas. Some cultivars of Ipomoea batatas are grown as ornamental plants.

This plant is a herbaceous perennial vine, bearing alternate heart-shaped or palmately lobed leaves and medium-sized sympetalous flowers. The edible tuberous root is long and tapered, with a smooth skin whose color ranges between red, purple, brown and white. Its flesh ranges from white through yellow, orange, and purple.

Origin, Distribution And Diversity

Sweet potatoes are native to the tropical parts of South America, and were domesticated there at least 5000 years ago.

Austin (1988) postulated that the centre of origin of I. batatas was between the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico and the mouth of the Orinoco River in Venezuela. The ‘cultigen’ had most likely been spread by local people to the Caribbean and South America by 2500 BC. Zhang et al. (1998) provided strong supporting evidence that the geographical zone postulated by Austin is the primary centre of diversity. The much lower molecular diversity found in Peru-Ecuador suggests that this region be considered as secondary centre of sweet potato diversity.

The sweet potato was also grown before western exploration in Polynesia, where it is known as the kumara. Sweet potato has been radiocarbon-dated in the Cook Islands to 1000 AD, and current thinking is that it was brought to central Polynesia circa 700 AD, possibly by Polynesians who had traveled to South America and back, and spread across Polynesia to Hawaii and New Zealand from there. It is possible, however, that South Americans brought it to the Pacific. The theory that the plant could spread by floating seeds across the ocean is not supported by evidence. Another point is that the sweet potato in Polynesia is the cultivated Ipomoea batatas, which is generally spread by vine cuttings, and not by seeds.

Sweet potatoes are now cultivated throughout tropical and warm temperate regions wherever there is sufficient water to support their growth.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) statistics world production in 2004 was 127,000,000 tons.[4] The majority comes from China with a production of 105,000,000 tonnes from 49,000 km². About half of the Chinese crop is used for livestock feed.

Per-capita production is greatest in countries where sweet potatoes are a staple of human consumption, led by the Solomon Islands at 160 kg per person per year, Burundi at 130 kg and Uganda at 100 kg.

20,000 tonnes of sweet potatoes are produced annually in New Zealand, where sweet potato is known by its Māori name, kūmara. It was a staple food for Māori before European contact

In the U.S., North Carolina, the leading state in sweet potato production, provided 38.5% of the 2007 U.S. production of sweet potatoes. California, Louisiana, and Mississippi compete closely with each other in production. Louisiana has been a long-time major producer, once second only to North Carolina, and closely followed by California until the latter began surpassing it in 2002. In 2007, California produced 23%, Louisiana 15.9%, and Mississippi 19% of the U.S. total.

Opelousas, Louisiana’s Yambilee has been celebrated every October since 1946. The Frenchmen who established the first settlement at Opelousas in 1760 discovered the native Attakapas, Alabama, Choctaw, and Opelousas Indian Tribes eating sweet potatoes. The sweet potato became a favorite food item of the French and Spanish settlers and thus continued a long history of cultivation in Louisiana.

Mississippi, with about 150 farmers presently growing sweet potatoes on approximately 8,200 acres (33 km2) and contributing $19 million dollars to the state’s economy. Mississippi’s top five sweet potato producing counties are Calhoun, Chickasaw, Pontotoc, Yalobusha, and Panola. The National Sweet Potato Festival is held annually the entire first week in November in Vardaman (Calhoun County), which proclaims itself as “The Sweet Potato Capital”.

The town of Benton, Kentucky celebrates the sweet potato annually with its Tater Day Festival on the first Monday of April. The town of Gleason, Tennessee celebrates the sweet potato on Labor Day weekend with its Tater Town Special.

Cultivation

The plant does not tolerate frost. It grows best at an average temperature of 24 °C (75 °F), abundant sunshine and warm nights. Annual rainfalls of 750-1000 mm are considered most suitable, with a minimum of 500 mm in the growing season. The crop is sensitive to drought at the tuber initiation stage 50–60 days after planting and is not tolerant to water-logging, as it may cause tuber rots and reduce growth of storage roots if aeration is poor (Ahn, 1993).

Depending on the cultivar and conditions, tuberous roots mature in two to nine months. With care, early-maturing cultivars can be grown as an annual summer crop in temperate areas, such as the northern United States. Sweet potatoes rarely flower when the daylight is longer than 11 hours, as is normal outside of the tropics. They are mostly propagated by stem or root cuttings or by adventitious roots called “slips” that grow out from the tuberous roots during storage. True seeds are used for breeding only.

Under optimal conditions of 85 to 90 % relative humidity at 13 to 16 °C (55 to 61 °F), sweet potatoes can keep for six months. Colder temperatures injure the roots.

They grow well in many farming conditions and have few natural enemies; pesticides are rarely needed. Sweet potatoes are grown on a variety of soils, but well-drained light and medium textured soils with a pH range of 4.5-7.0 are more favourable for the plant (Woolfe, 1992; Ahn, 1993). They can be grown in poor soils with little fertilizer. However, sweet potatoes are very sensitive to aluminium toxicity and will die about 6 weeks after planting if lime is not applied at planting in this type of soil (Woolfe, 1992). Because they are sown by vine cuttings rather than seeds, sweet potatoes are relatively easy to plant. Because the rapidly growing vines shade out weeds, little weeding is needed, and farmers can devote time to other crops. In the tropics the crop can be maintained in the ground and harvested as needed for market or home consumption. In temperate regions sweet potatoes are most often grown on larger farms and are harvested before frosts set in.

China is the largest grower of sweet potatoes; providing about 80% of the world’s supply, 130 million tons were produced in one year (in 1990; about half that of common potatoes). Historically, most of China’s sweet potatoes were grown for human consumption, but now most (60%) are grown to feed pigs. The rest are grown for human food and for other products. Some are grown for export, mainly to Japan. China grows over 100 varieties of sweet potato.

After introduction there, sweet potatoes very early became popular in the islands of the Pacific Ocean, from Japan to Polynesia. One reason is that they were a reliable crop in cases of crop failure of other staple foods due to typhoon flooding. They are featured in many favorite dishes in Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and other island nations. Indonesia, Vietnam, India, and some other Asian countries are also large sweet potato growers. Uganda (the third largest grower after Indonesia), Rwanda, and some other African countries also grow a large crop which is an important part of their peoples’ diets. North and South America, the original home of the sweet potato, together grow less than three percent of the world’s supply. Europe has only a very small sweet potato production, mostly in Portugal. In the Caribbean, a variety of the sweet potato called the boniato is very popular. The flesh of the boniato is cream-colored, unlike the more popular orange hue seen in other varieties. Boniatos are not as sweet and moist as other sweet potatoes, but many people prefer their fluffier consistency and more delicate flavor. Boniatos have been grown throughout the subtropical world for centuries, but became an important commercial crop in Florida in recent years. 

Sweet potatoes were an important part of the diet in the United States for most of its history, especially in the Southeast. From the middle of the 20th century, however, they have become less popular. The average per capita consumption of sweet potatoes in the United States is only about 1.5–2 kg (4 lbs) per year, down from 13 kg (31 lb) in 1920. Southerner Kent Wrench writes: “The Sweet Potato became associated with hard times in the minds of our ancestors and when they became affluent enough to change their menu, the potato was served less often.”

New Zealanders grow enough kūmara to provide each person with 7 kg (15.4 lbs) per year, and also import substantially more than this from China.

Uses

The roots are most frequently boiled, fried, or baked. They can also be processed to make starch and a partial flour substitute. Industrial uses include the production of starch and industrial alcohol.

Culinary Uses

Although the leaves and shoots are also edible, the starchy tuberous roots are by far the most important product. In some tropical areas, they are a staple food-crop.

“Amukeke” (sun dried slices of storage roots) and “Inginyo” (sun dried crushed storage roots) are a staple food for people in north-eastern Uganda (Abidin, 2004). Amukeke is mainly for breakfast, eaten with peanut sauce. People generally eat this food while they are drinking a cup of tea in the morning, around 10 am. Inginyo will be mixed with cassava flour and tamarind, to make food called “atapa”. People eat “atapa” with smoked fish cooked in peanut sauce or with dried cowpea leaves cooked in peanut sauce.

Candied sweet potatoes are a side dish consisting mainly of sweet potatoes prepared with brown sugar, marshmallows, maple syrup, molasses, or other sweet ingredients. Often served on Thanksgiving, this dish represents traditional American cooking and of that prepared with the indigenous peoples of the Americas when settlers first arrived.

Sweet potato pie is also a traditional favorite dish in southern U.S. cuisine.

Baked sweet potatoes are sometimes offered in restaurants as an alternative to baked potatoes. They are often topped with brown sugar and butter. In Dominican Republic sweet potato is enjoyed for breakfast. In China sweet potatoes are often baked in a large iron drum and sold as street food during winter.

Sweet potato fries or chips are another common preparation, and are made by julienning and deep frying sweet potatoes, in the fashion of French fried potatoes.

Sweet potato leaves are a common side dish in Taiwanese cuisine, often boiled with garlic and vegetable oil and dashed with salt before serving. They are commonly found at bento (POJ: piān-tong) restaurants, as well as dishes featuring the sweet potato root.

The young leaves and vine tips of sweet potato leaves are widely consumed as a vegetable in West African countries (Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia for example), as well as in northeastern Uganda, East Africa (Abidin, 2004). According to FAO leaflet No. 13 – 1990, sweet potato leaves and shoots are a good source of vitamins A, C, and B2 (Riboflavin), and according to research done by A. KHACHATRYAN, are an excellent source of lutein.

 

Steamed/Boiled chunks, for a simple and healthy snack, chunks of sweet potato may be boiled in water or cooked in the microwave.

A Japanese yaki-imo vendor and cart outside Nara Park. Sweet Potato Butter can be cooked into a gourmet spread.

In Northeastern Chinese cuisine. sweet potatoes are often cut into chunks and fried before drench into a pan of boiling syrup. [11]

In Korean cuisine, sweet potato starch is used to produce dangmyeon (cellophane noodles). Sweet potatoes are also boiled, steamed, or roasted, and young stems are eaten as namul.

Japanese cuisine: Boiled sweet potato is the most common way to eat it at home. Also, the use in vegetable tempura is common. Yaki-imo (roasted sweeted potato) is a delicacy in winter, sold by hawkers. Daigaku-imo is a baked sweet potato dessert. In imo-gohan, slices or small blocks of sweet potato are cooked in rice. It is also served in nimono or nitsuke, boiled and typically flavoured with soy sauce, mirin and dashi. Because it is sweet and starchy, it is used in imo-kinton and some other wagashi (Japanese sweets), such as ofukuimo. Shōchū, a Japanese spirit normally made from the fermentation of rice, can also be made from sweet potato, in which case it is called imo-jōchū.

In New Zealand, Māori traditionally cooked their kūmara in hāngi (earth ovens). Rocks were placed on a fire in a large hole. When the fire died out, kūmara and other food was wrapped in leaves and placed on the hot rocks, then covered with earth. The kūmara was dug up again several hours later. The resulting food was very soft and tender, as though steamed. However, hangi are rare in modern New Zealand and New Zealanders, Maori or Pakeha, are more likely to consume it baked, boiled, or deep-fried (such as in kumara chips) than they are in hangi.

In Malaysia, sweet potato is often cut into small cubes and cooked with yam and coconut milk (santan) to make a sweet dessert called bubur caca. A favourite way of cooking sweet potato is deep frying slices of sweet potato in batter as a tea-time snack. In houses, sweet potatoes are usually boiled. The leaves of sweet potatoes are usually stir-fried with only garlic or with sambal belacan and dried shrimp by the Malaysian Chinese.

Non – Culinary Uses

In South America, the juice of red sweet potatoes is combined with lime juice to make a dye for cloth. By varying the proportions of the juices, every shade from pink to purple to black can be obtained.

All parts of the plant are used for animal fodder.

Sweet potatoes or camotes are often found in Moche ceramics.

Several selections are cultivated in gardens as ornamental plants for their attractive foliage, including the dark-leafed cultivars ‘Blackie’ and ‘Ace of Spades’ and the chartreuse-foliaged ‘Margarita’.

Taiwanese companies are making alcohol fuel from sweet potato.

Recipes

You can Find number of different recipe in Ayesha’s Kitchen.

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