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Sweet Potato Harvest - The Nancy Halls

While Dan's been working on the pantry roof, I've been harvesting sweet potatoes. The mornings getting chillier and chillier and I need to get them dug before first frost. I planted two kinds this year, Vardamans and Nancy Halls. I started with the Nancy Halls.

Nancy Hall sweet potatoes are an heirloom variety and this is my first year to grow them. I planted two rows, which quickly grew to look like one huge bed. The first step was to pull the vines and feed those to the goats. Then I raked back the mulch, 

and the hunt is on.

This variety sprawls both above ground and below. I found the largest sweets directly under the vines, but underground runners went everywhere. I found lots of medium and small ones well beyond the rows where they were planted, even down in the subsoil. That meant they were more time consuming to find and dig than my bush-type Vardamans.

The Nancy Halls aren't a familiar bright sweet potato orange but are more mellow in color.

Curious marbled interior

The real question was, how would they taste? I haven't found all varieties of sweet potatoes to be equally delicious, so I was curious about this rare old variety.

The first taste test was oven baked sweet potato fries.

Nancy Hall oven fries made with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

We had these with burgers and thought them quite good. The next night I served them baked.

Baked Nancy Hall with butter and served with ham and Pasta Cheesy.

The kitchen smelled like a bakery while they were in the oven! They are a pretty golden yellow color when baked and have a dry flaky texture. The flavor was excellent!

Last test - sweet potato pie!

I like sweet potato pie better than pumpkin (or cushaw), so this was an important test. I had trouble, though, because the flesh was so dry that it was hard to process for pie filling. For that I use baked or steamed sweet potatoes and run them through my Foley food mill. But the Nancy Halls weren't creamy enough to process well, and without changing the recipe the filling was too thick to stir. I added milk to give it a more pourable consistency. After all that I thought the pie was just okay. 

Even so, the verdict is that these are a keeper, and I'll keep a couple of nice ones to sprout next year. They make plentiful vines to feed the goats and are excellent baked. For pies, I'll continue to use my Vardamans.


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