All About Sweet Potatoes: Know Your Beauregard from Your Red Garnet

By the editors of Cook's Illustrated

Not all sweet potatoes are alike—they vary in texture and taste, for starters.

Sweet potatoes are a great alternative to traditional potatoes, especially around the holidays. Their sweet, nutty flavor and beautiful orange color add a luscious touch to a big spread. But are all varieties the same? No, far from it.

Many grocery stores carry three varieties of sweet potatoes: Beauregards, Jewels, and Red Garnets. To see if we could detect any differences among the three, we tasted them in a simple mash as well as in a recipe for sweet potato biscuits.

Beauregards, the most common variety, made great biscuits—buttery-sweet and fluffy—and were tasty, albeit one-dimensionally sweet, as a plain mash. The flesh of the Jewels was less sweet than the Beauregards but with an equally firm texture. Red Garnets, decidedly more savory than the others, had an earthiness that tasters appreciated in the mash. Their loose, watery texture, however, made the biscuits slightly gummy.

BEAUREGARD

Best for biscuits, this potato earned comments like “buttery,” “sweet, honest,” and “has a nice color” from our testers.

JEWEL

Testers deemed it “only slightly sweet” but liked the color. It’s still fine for all applications.

RED GARNET

Tasters weren’t huge fans of the Red Garnet. Not very sweet," "squash-like," "watery,” were the comments it received.

RECIPE FOR MEMBERS: Maple-Orange Mashed Sweet Potatoes

We wanted a mashed sweet potatoes recipe that would push the deep, earthy sweetness to the fore and produce a silky puree with enough body to hold its shape while sitting on a fork. Braising the sweet potatoes in a mixture of butter and heavy cream gave our mashed sweet potatoes richness.

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