Do satsumas grow in Louisiana? And what are they? I have to admit I haven’t really given much attention to satusmas. When I saw the road-side vendor was selling satsumas, I decided to stop and purchase a sack. The vendor said that these satsumas came from Opelousas, Louisiana, and were not very plentiful this year.
Two things I’d never encountered before moving to Louisiana were armadillos and mirlitons. Armadillos reminded me of a small dinosaur meandering along beside a country road. I really didn’t have anything else for comparison with mirlitons.
I discovered that mirlitons are a type of a squash that grows on a meandering vine. They ripen in the fall and can be found in farmers markets and grocery stores in Louisiana around Thanksgiving. Mirlitons are the shape of a pear with textured skin. They are very bland in flavor, with a crisp and pale pulp. Perhaps somewhat similar to summer squash, but not really. The skin is very thin but the pulp is much firmer than a summer squash.
I bought a sack of Louisiana-grown sweet potatoes a couple of weeks ago, and now need to find many ways to cook them. Fortunately, sweet potatoes are versatile, lending their use to a wide variety of recipes from desserts to side dishes and even biscuits (the subject of a future post). They are relatively bland and can be combined with many seasonings–I even found a recipe for curried shrimp-sweet potato soup which sounded interesting.
My favorite way to prepare sweet potatoes is simply to bake them. It’s easy, fool-proof and tasty. Given the wide range of flavors that go along with sweet potatoes, I also like to stuff the baked sweet potatoes with an assortment of ingredients. The possibilities are endless.
Yes, sweet potatoes grow in Louisiana. A bit of trivia, according to the Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission, Louisiana grows more sweet potatoes that any other state except North Carolina. I doubt if sweet potatoes will grow in my garden which consists of hard clay. However, much of the central and western parts of rural Louisiana have sandy, loamy soil. Sweet potatoes need a long growing season making this a good geographical area for farming sweet potatoes.
I purchased a sack of sweet potatoes from a man who brings produce from central Louisiana to sell from his truck by the side of the road. He’s been at this spot for several years, and his produce varies according to the time of the year. These sweet potatoes came from a farm in Bunkie, Louisiana. The variety is Beauregard sweet potatoes, developed for better crop resistance and it is the most common one grown in the state. This variety is softer and sweeter than the variety grown in northern states–which tends to be drier and more mealy.
Some recipes call for sweet potatoes and others for yams. Technically, all are sweet potatoes. When the softer, more orange and sweeter variety was introduced into the South, these were given the name, yams, to differentiate the two types. Yams reminded the slaves of the tubers they remembered from African or, “”nyami”. Yams are grown in Central and South American and can be found in specialty markets.
The sweet potatoes sold by this road-side vendor were moderately small ones; just right for a serving when baked. I plan to make several of my favorite recipes and post them here.