How to buy
Kumara (also known as sweet potato) comes in a range of varieties, colours and shapes. Red kumara is the most popular variety in New Zealand, with its distinctive red skin and firm white flesh. Orange kumara is the sweetest and firmest option, whereas purple kumara is the least sweet. Gold kumara has a softer texture and is sweeter than the red kumara. Whichever variety you prefer, it is best to buy firm kumara with smooth skin and no cracks.
How to store
Kumaras are best kept in a dry, dark place – such as the pantry. This way they will stay firm and keep their flavour. Don’t refrigerate kumaras as they can dry out – however you should also make sure they don’t get too warm, as they will start to sprout. Always scrub the skin of the kumara if you’re not peeling it before cooking.
- Kumara is delicious roasted in the oven with olive oil or butter until golden and crisp. You can eat this on its own or add to a salad or risotto for more flavour.
- An ideal potato substitute, cut kumara into wedges and bake in the oven until golden. You can even add a spice mix for extra flavour, such as cumin and chilli.
- Kumara soup is a great winter warmer. Pan-fry onions, garlic and curry powder, then add diced kumara and vegetable stock. Allow to boil until the kumara is soft, then blend into a soup. Add coconut cream before serving and top with fresh coriander as a garnish.
- To make ‘jacket kumara’, bake the kumara in the oven until tender – about 40 minutes, depending on size. Serve with guacamole and Mexican beans, or sour cream and sweet chilli sauce.
In general, the stronger the colour of a fruit or vegetable, the higher its antioxidant content. Darker kumaras, such as the red and purple varieties, are a good source of antioxidants. Kumaras have 10 times more vitamin A than normal potatoes and are also low GI – which means they keep you full for longer. For extra fibre, cook kumaras with their skin on.