How to Prep and Store Purple Sweet Potato 'Beni-imo'


What you see on the label at the Farmer's Market:
Kanji: 紅芋
Hiragana: べにいも
Katakana: ベニイモ
Seasonal Harvesting Period: Autumn to Early Winter

The Basics:

Beni-imo, or purple sweet potato, is the most well-known potato in Okinawa. It is used in so many treats on the island that even if you are only in Okinawa for one day, you'll be sure to see this sweet tasting potato.

While it is sweet tasting, it is not the sweet potato you commonly know. The inside is purple and found primarily in East Asia. The inside is purple because of the same component that makes other veggies and fruits purple: anthocyanin. This is a kind of polyphenol that is good for the body.

When looking to buy beni-imo at the market, look for one that has a glossy appearance and a clean surface. It is said that the one with a shallow root end is better. Also, if a sticky substance similar to honey seeps out from the end, it is proof that it is ripe and sweetened. Dark spots seen on the end of the potato in the picture below is from the honey-like substance. Thin potatoes with many hair roots coming out of it tend to have more fiber.

Nutritional Info:

1 Beni-imo: 129kcal (per 100g), protein (0.7g), sugars (0.2g), calcium (42mg), iron (0.7mg), vitamin A (12.00mg), vitamin B (0.28mg), vitamin C (24mg)

Common ailments it is helpful towards: tiredness, indigestion, constipation, dull skin, skin aging, hypercholesterolemia, intestinal diseases, obesity prevention, arteriosclerosis 

These potatoes are recommended for when you are feeling weak or constipated. It contains a lot of minerals such as potassium in addition to starch, glucose and vitamins A and C.

The purple-red color of beni-imo is due to the anthocyanin-based pigment, which has an excellent antioxidant effect. Anthocyanins are said to have arteriosclerosis and cholesterol-suppressing effects.

How to Wash and Cut:

You can prepare this potato like any other potatoes. Preparation depends on the dish you plan on using it in.

Scrub off the dirt and peel the potato or boil it as is and keep the skin.

However, be careful when mixing this potato with other dishes as the overall color is sure to change!

How to Store:

Like most potatoes, keep out of sunlight and store in a dry, cool place. It is recommended to wrap it in newspaper and store it away from direct sunlight. If it is too cold, the potato will go bad quickly, so it is not suitable for storage in the refrigerator. 

If you have already peeled, cut and prepared the potato for a dish, store it in the vegetable compartment or cool area in your fridge.

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