The Batata

Explains what a batata is, and how and where it is grown. Also details how it can be used in cooking.

The batata is a root crop that is a type of sweet potato. It is grown in the Caribbean and has a flavor that is similar to a sweet potato, yet more starchy. Because it is a sweet potato variety, you can use the batata in any recipes where sweet potatoes are required. However, batatas are an exotic vegetable. Therefore, you may not be able to find them easily at your local market. When looking for locations where batatas are sold, first check any larger supermarket chains in your area. You may also be able to find batatas at some specialty fruit and vegetable stores. Where batatas are available, you should be able to purchase them year-round.

When purchasing batatas, you can recognize the vegetable by its resemblance to a sweet potato. However, when you cut into a batata, its inner flesh is white in color. Similar to when you select potatoes, choose only those batatas that are firm to the touch and that have smooth skins with little or no marks on them. Additionally, select batatas that are smaller in size as these will be more flavorful and have a better consistency when cooked. Once you have purchased your batatas, you can store them in your home for up to one week, preferably in a climate that averages around 55°F. Note that batatas do not need to be refrigerated.

When preparing to use a batata, if the batata has been peeled, make sure that you place it in cold water prior to using it. This will prevent the batata from becoming discolored. Some common uses for the batata include baking them whole or peeling them then boiling, roasting, or microwaving them. You can also use the batata as a substitute for the sweet potato in "Sweet Potato Pie", or as an ingredient in vegetable soups. An especially good use for the batata is when combined with butternut squash, black beans, and other seasonings to make a Caribbean-style stew. Because of the batata's sweet flavor, it can be used in a variety of ways including as a dessert ingredient, entrée, or side dish. A popular use for the batata as a side dish is to combine peeled slices of batata with mushrooms and seasonings then baking the mixture in an oven. Because there are many uses for the batata, it is a very versatile vegetable.

The batata is a type of root crop that grows well in tropical regions where the climate is moderate and is usually on the warm side. Growing batatas, however, is not an easy task because they require careful monitoring. Typically, batata growers will cultivate a crop for many years. Additionally, once a crop is harvested, growers must take much care to handle, store, and then ship the produce to consumers. Where batatas are available for purchase, they are worth trying if not for their taste, for all the effort that has gone into their production.

For an exotic and tasty alternative to more traditional potato dishes, try using the batata. Not only will it provide an interesting complement to everyday dishes, it will be a nutritious dietary addition.

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