Homegrown sweet potatoes are easier than you think

Recently I visited my dad and he gave me a gift: An old sweet potato from the very back of his fridge. It was sprouting and looked mostly unsalvageable.

“Ummm… thanks… dad…?”

He pushed it into my hands, “You should plant it.”

I assumed this was another one of his harebrained ideas, but I googled it and was surprised to find that it’s a thing. There’s a bit more of a process to it than just digging a hole and chucking in your sprouting sweet potato though…

1. Grow the slips

Slips are long, vine-like and leafing growths near the tip of a sweet potato – and it’s these that sprout baby sweet potatoes for you to enjoy (you can actually grow up to 50 slips per half). To grow slips, use a new sweet potato or one that’s already begun sprouting by itself. Cut it in half and place each cut side down in a bowl, glass or jar half submerged with water (pictured below). Leave it in a warm place and change the water daily to keep it fresh. I left mine for 2 weeks.

growing sweet potato sprouting slips

2. Let the roots grow

Once the slips have developed nice and long, it’s time to separate them from the mamma potato so they can grow on their own. Carefully twist the slips off where they connect to the sweet potato and place them in a shallow container with a little water to cover the bottom half of the stems.

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The roots will begin to grow and sprout leaves within a few days. When they’re 2-3 cm long they’re ready to be planted.

roots

3. Plant the slips

This step’s pretty straight forward. Dig 10cm deep holes and 7cm wide holes for each slip to be placed into. (P.S. I know this soil is suuuuper dry – but I’m going to try these tips here to rejuvenate it: https://soiltosupper.com/simple-ways-to-fix-dry-garden-soil/ ).

plant

4. Water!

watering2
plantsss

Soon I’ll never have to shop for sweet potatoes again – well at least that’s the plan. Stay tuned for updates on my sweet potato babies!

Save Your Stems! Easy Raw Kale Pesto

I bought two massive bunches of kale on special, thinking I’d use it all quick smart. I was wrong. After a huge batch of kale salad and a tray of kale chips, there was still a big bunch in the fridge plus all the stems I’d kept (don’t judge me).

I thought I could make it into a pesto, and saw that some people blanched the stems first – but to be honest I tested it blanched versus raw and they both taste amazing, so save yourself the effort.

With that, here’s my recipe for a raw kale pesto that uses up every last scrap of kale and is prime to slather on pretty much anything.

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RECIPE
Raw Kale Stem Pesto

Yield: Approx. 1 ½ cups of finished pesto (1 x 300ml mason jar full)

INGREDIENTS
1 packed cup kale leaves, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 ½ packed cup kale stems, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 shallot, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves – peeled
25ml lemon juice (approx. ½ a medium lemon)
Zest of ½ a medium lemon
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp pine nuts or roasted walnuts
80ml olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

You could also add any herbs you have on hand like parsley or basil.

METHOD

  1. Add all the ingredients to a food processor, and pulse in controlled bursts till crumbly-looking without any big chunks. Scrape down the sides regularly to ensure everything’s processed relatively evenly.
  2. Add more lemon, salt or pepper to taste. And add a little more olive oil if you want a thinner pesto.
  3. To store, keep refrigerated in a hipster-looking glass jar for added effect, and top with olive oil to stop it browning. Freeze batches for later use in small containers or plastic freezer bags.

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Easy, right? Mix this pesto into pasta, soups, salads, spread it on toast or sandwiches for a herby garlicy, use it as a pizza sauce, toss veggies through it, top eggs with it, eat it with a steak or mix through meatballs. There’s so many ways to use it!