The sweet potato is one of the most versatile vegetables grown and enjoyed around the world. It can be roasted, baked, boiled, fried or steamed and eaten as a vegetable, or used in baked products such as pies and muffins. The sweet root vegetable is also a good resource for starch you can use in many other applications. For the home cook, making starch from a sweet potato is relatively simple.
About the Sweet Potato
Despite its name, the sweet potato is not a potato. It is a member of the Morning glory plant family and is one of the oldest vegetables in the world. Although it is starchy like a potato, a sweet potato has different starch properties. Because of the versatility of its starch, the sweet potato is among the leading crops grown in developing countries.
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Starch from a sweet potato is very valuable for professional and home cooks. It can be used in place of cornstarch in recipes, or to make sweet potato noodles. The starch can also be milled into flour to make gluten-free breads and pastry dough.
Making Starch From a Sweet Potato
You'll need a grater that provides a fine shred, cheese cloth and a big bowl. Grate your raw sweet potatoes and place the pulp into cheese cloth in a bowl. Squeeze the cheese cloth and the starch is extracted. Keep squeezing until the liquid you're extracting comes out clear. That means you've removed all the starch from the sweet potato pulp. At this stage, you can save the pulp and process it in a mill to make flour, or you can add the pulp to soup stock, make sweet potato hash browns, or add it to cakes or muffins.
Refrigerate the liquid for about four hours so the starch can settle to the bottom of the container. Discard as much water as possible without disturbing the starch. Add more clean water to give the starch one more rinsing. Stir. Refrigerate for one hour until the starch settles to the bottom of the bowl again. Remove as much water as possible, allowing the remaining liquid to evaporate at room temperature until the starch feels dry.
For each sweet potato you use, you will have about 1/4 cup of starch.
Commercial Uses for Sweet Potato Starch
Sweet potato starch is also used for many commercial purposes. In the food industry, commercial processors use the starch to make Asian noodles, sweeteners, beverages, citric acid and resistant starch, which provides health benefits similar to that of fiber.
With its strong adhesive qualities, sweet potato starch is also a replacement for paste. In addition, the starch from sweet potatoes is used to produce ethanol fuel.