The solar oven is one of the best tools we own. Not one of the best “survival/preparedness” tools, but one of the best tools period. So it makes sense that one of the best and healthiest homesteading food products, the sweet potato, would match well with the solar oven.
This year we planted a half-acre in sweet potatoes, and got a pretty good crop, so sweet taters are on the menu. Sweet potatoes are one of the very few complete foods in the world, meaning you could survive indefinitely (and be well) on just sweet potatoes. The delicious tuber is chock full of vitamins and minerals, along with beta carotene, and provides 100% of the necessary nutrition for human survival.
We clean the taters and dry them, then poke them through a few times with a fork. Rub the skins with sea salt, or butter and sea salt, then either wrap them in foil, or put them in a pan to bake. If you feel like mashed sweet taters, go ahead and cut them up first and peel them if you like. Totally up to you.
How long your taters need to cook is going to be completely subject to the conditions and the size of the potatoes. If you have good direct sun and the temperature can get to 375 degrees or hotter, then they should only take an hour or two (depending on the size of the sweet potatoes.) If you can only get the oven to a bit over 300, it may take 4-5 hours. The lower the temperature and the bigger the tubers, the longer the cooking will take. Today it is the middle of December, and we still had enough good sunlight to bake up a mess of sweet potatoes. I also made butter today, so sounds like a match made in heaven!
When the sweet potatoes are soft to the squeeze, they are ready. Add butter and go to town, or if you like them sweeter, a touch of brown sugar or honey and maybe some cinnamon will make them perfect!
Don’t forget to eat the skins too. The skins are where some of the healthiest elements reside, and since you grew them, you know the skins aren’t steeped in pesticides and chemicals the big companies spray on them to keep them from sprouting. If you didn’t grow them, look around for a local grower. New real food places are popping up everywhere, so keep your eyes open. Here’s a hint, if the sweet taters are really cheap (less than a buck) at your grocery store, they are either last year’s crop, or they are heavily industrially raised – in which case you may not want to eat the skins, if you choose to eat the taters.
Every homesteader or off-grid farmer should at least try to grow sweet potatoes. They will grow just about everywhere, do great in the heat of the deep south, and you really cannot find a better, more store-able survival food. Stay tuned here because soon I will be posting my Sweet Potato Planting and Growing guide!