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What Do You Do With a Harvest of Sweet Potato Leaves?

The Harvest

It was a very dry day in June when a group of community volunteers of the Food Garden Hui  planted sweet potatoes using “slips” (a mature stem with leaves) at the community food garden of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement in Kapolei.

By October, the harvest yield was only about 20 small to medium sized potatoes. On the other hand, the team harvested a 4 foot tall pile of sweet potato leaves, or “talbos ng kamote” (young shoots of the sweet potato) in Tagalog. 

Distribution

Food Garden Hui  bundled the leaves into meal-sized portions for distribution at Princess Ruth Keʻelikolani Middle School food hub organized by Reality Honolulu. We had to use a truck to haul the vegetables.  All told, we had harvested about 75 bundles of produce! 

We had barely laid the bundles of leaves on the table when kupuna aunties started lining up and asking for them. We had to wait for the alarm to start,but at exactly 12 noon – they came. They smiled, they clapped, they skipped when they were able to get a bundle of sweet potato leaves.

Our table was empty in 12 minutes.  

Popular ways of eating sweet potato leaves:

Salad – Boil the leaves for 1-2 minutes, then shock them in ice water. Drain. Season with a spoonful of vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper.  Chill.  Garnish with chopped tomatoes and chopped yellow onions.  Excellent side dish to fried fish!

Soup – Add the leaves to boiled meat or seafood sour soup (sinigang) or add to boiled monggo soup. Filling and comforting!

Tea – Boil a handful and steep for about 15 minutes.  Strain and place in a pitcher.  Serve cold without sweetener.  So refreshing!

Nutritional value – Is this something that the peoples of Hawaiʻi should eat more of?   Absolutely.  Learn more about the nutritional value of sweet potato leaves

  • Macronutrients
    • Carbohydrates, protein, and fiber
    • Low in saturated fat and cholesterol
    • Omega 3 fatty acids, which contribute to all tissues in the body functioning normally, including the heart, lungs, blood vessels, immune system, and hormone production
  • Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals)
    • Vitamins: A, C, K, B1, B2, B3, B9
    • Minerals: calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium
    • Also contains zinc, manganese, copper
    • Low in sodium

Sweet potatoes are easy to plant, low maintenance and high yield.  If you have a lot of sweet potato leaves, eat them!  They are ʻono!

For more information please contact Dr. Susan Mercaco at susan@hiphi.org

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