Tuesday, May 1, 2012

TIGHTWAD TUESDAY - Sweet Potatoes Get Great Mileage

 Late last Fall, sometime right after Thanksgiving, I stumbled upon the most magnificent sale on Sweet Potatoes.  The store must have badly overstocked because they were selling them at 10¢ a pound, no limit!!! There was absolutely nothing wrong with them and they looked very nice. (well, except for the fact that they were from the store and might have chemicals on them)  I LOVE sweet potatoes cooked so many different ways, and they are VERY healthy, so I purchased about 50 pounds of them that day. (which only came to about $5.00)

That store must have REEEEALY over stocked on them, because they remained on sale for that unheard of price for quite some time. It turned out that they were extra delicious sweet potatoes with the creamiest of textures, so each time I went for groceries I picked up a few more of them until, by the end of the sale, I had gotten at least 150 pounds of them! It might have been more, I kind of lost count.

This is what they look like after over 5 months.
  I kept them in the cooler part of my house and they kept well all winter long. Dave and I thoroughly enjoyed eating all the best flavored sweet potatoes we could possibly desire over the past few months. They really held their quality well. Many days, I put them in a cast iron loaf pan in the front of my wood burning stove (winter heat). They would slow cook while I went about my chores so that when I was ready to eat, the sweet potatoes were done to perfection ..... crispy skin outside ... creamy, tender and sweet inside. Just a dob of butter and my dinner was ready! Oh, how wonderful they have been!

We decided that we had to have more of those great sweet potatoes and were hoping to sprout some of them into slips so we could get them started. We really prefer growing our own so that we aren't eating all those anti-sprouting chemicals that are usually sprayed on root crops like that. But as you can guess, something that good from the grocery store was nearly impossible to get a start off of. We tried all winter, but with no luck.

  Then a few days ago, after we had nearly given up, our luck unexpectedly changed! Although I brought them home from the store in plastic grocery bags, I always transferred them to a box so that they wouldn't rot in the bag. But a few days ago, I realized I had missed a bag. The bag was sitting partly open (fortunately) and had apparently gotten just the right mix of air and moisture, and 4 of the sweet potatoes were putting out a few sprouts. YEA!!! So, we are now nursing them along to get some slips so we can plant and grow our own from the best sweet potatoes we have ever eaten. So not only did we get the ultimate bargain that we enjoyed most of the fall, all winter, and on into the spring, but we may get all of our future sweet potatoes off of that wonderful sale. :)

But alas, the quality of our delicious sweet potatoes is beginning to fade. One might think that that was the end of their great uses and they were ready for the compost heap (which still isn't a bad thing), but no, they still have a great purpose. Although there aren't a lot left, there are still a few. Upon doing the math, I decided that they were cheaper than chicken feed (and probably more nutritious) and a good change of flavors for them. So I have been cooking them up a few at a time, cooling them off, and giving them to my chickens for a treat. They are so happy!!! My meat chickens have even increased their laying to nearly meet that of a decent layer. I give them about a nickel's worth of sweet potatoes and they, in turn, give me a few eggs. As soon as I get an incubator set up I will be incubating their eggs to raise some of our own meat chickens, but until then, their extra large eggs are wonderful for eating. Just one egg completely fills a fried egg sandwich!

Dave has started sweet potato slips before, but I never have (although I have grown them as decorative vines for fun as a child). As I do searches on how to do it, I am finding that there is a multitude of ways to start them.  If any of you have started your own, we would like to hear what method you used and which method you think works best.

Buying once, then saving seeds, taking starts, etc.... from produce is a great way to save money! With each 'purchase and save' you can really start building up your produce variety for very little money. Then if you can add in swapping with others, you can really start to build up your variety for nearly nothing. Those wonderful, tasty, economical sweet potatoes I purchased months ago, just keep on racking up the savings, even many months later. And we truly hope that by this fall, we can reap in a bounty of a new crop of sweet potatoes from that great sale, a bounty that we can enjoy, once again, for another long stretch, but this time, with only the cost of our labors. It was truly a savings that just keeps on saving!!!

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