How to Cook Mashed Purple Sweet Potatoes

Recipes

May 18, 2022

An easy purple sweet potato recipe to add a pop of color to your side dishes.

Learn how to cook a smooth and creamy mashed purple sweet potato with just 3 ingredients.

In this blog post, I’m sharing my recipe for mashed purple sweet potatoes, and you’ll see how easy it is to incorporate Okinawan purple potatoes as a side dish for most any of your main dishes. This mashed purple sweet potato recipe will be your go-to not just for purple potatoes, but for any kind of pomme puree you wish to make at home.

Purple sweet potatoes are a good source of beta-carotene. What is more surprising is that it has the same antioxidant properties of blueberries, but about three times more! Purple sweet potatoes contain anthocyanin, which is the pigment that gives both blueberries and this purple potato its natural, rich, vibrant color.

There’s no reason not to add this delightful variety into your mix of vegetables that can help reduce inflammation and boost your immune system.

I served it at home with chicken fried steak with white gravy and a side of fresh corn off the cob.

What do purple sweet potatoes look and taste like?

Purple potatoes have the typical oval shape of regular potatoes. They have a dark purple skin that almost looks black. But if you cut it open and you’ll find a stunning, bright purple color.

Depending on the variety, purple sweet potatoes taste just like regular potatoes but have a slightly sweeter taste than its regular sweet potato counterpart. They are drier and a bit starchier than traditional sweet potatoes, which is why I have to cook them longer.

You can enjoy purple sweet potatoes in the same ways you usually cook the regular variety: fried, baked, braised, grilled, boiled, mashed. It simply adds that unexpected but welcome pop of color to your dish. 

What’s the difference between purple sweet potatoes and ube?

Purple sweet potatoes are just like any other potato variety in the sense that they are a root vegetable or what we call tubers. Aside from its purple color, the taste and nutritional benefits of a purple sweet potato is what sets it  apart from the rest.

Sometimes, it can be confused with ube or even taro. My wife actually challenged me to think twice if it was actually ube.

But no.

Ube, is a purple yam. They grow on vines and are even sweeter than purple sweet potatoes. They are more difficult to find in the United States. Ube has gained some worldwide recognition thanks to Instagram and the bakers that showcase doughnuts, cheesecakes, cookies and ice cream but it has been a staple in Filipino cooking for generations.

As ube is almost seasonal here in the United States, we always end up hoarding whatever ube products we can get our hands on when we can.

Neither purple sweet potatoes nor purple yams or ube are genetically modified. They are as natural as blueberries are blue and eggplants are purple.

Where do purple sweet potatoes come from?

You will mostly likely find two types of Purple Sweet Potatoes:

The Stokes Purple sweet potato from North Carolina. 

The Stokes Purple sweet potato was discovered by Mike Sizemore in 2003. It has been said that he received potatoes from an unknown origin  from a lady at the county fair. The potatoes were propagated, patented then grown commercially in 2006. Today you can find the Stokes Purple potato grown in California and North California and are available at Farmers Market and specialty grocers across the United States.

The Okinawan sweet potato

The Okinawan sweet potato is so nutritious that it has become Hollywood-famous. It was first featured on the Oprah Winfrey show in 2009 then Dr. Oz listed them as one of his top five Superfoods of 2010. The name Okinawa might lead you to believe that they originated in Japan, but in fact, their origins are from South America. Believed to have been brought by the Spaniards to the Philippines then on to China in the 1400s, they were introduced to Japan in the 1600s. The potatoes adapted very well to the Okinawan climate and it became a staple, spreading to other regions of the country.

Eventually, during the sugar plantation era of the 1800s, the purple potatoes found its way to Hawaii and became part of Hawaii staple cuisine. The Hawaiian Sweet Potato is actually the Okinawan Sweet purple potato and people use the names interchangeably.

Availability and Seasonality of purple sweet potatoes

Okinawan Purple sweet potatoes are available year round, but the Stoke variety is usually available from September to June. Like all sweet potatoes, it peaks during the fall and winter months. They are also typically not available at all grocery stores, depending where you live. So if you’re lucky, go ahead and grab some and experience the purple potato!

Here in Texas, I can easily find the Okinawan variety at HEB or Central Market. In other states, you can find them at Whole Foods, or Sprouts. 

If all else fails, you can find them on Amazon.

How do you cook purple sweet potatoes?

The easiest way to enjoy purple sweet potatoes is to make a mashed potato out of it. You can also make purple sweet potato fries or purple gnocchi. But let’s save those recipes for another day. In this blog, we’ll start with something easy to make so that you can try this powerhouse of nutrition sooner than later.

Ingredients for Mashed Purple Sweet Potatoes

Purple sweet potatoes

I’m using the Okinawan purple sweet potatoes that were readily available at Central Market. I peeled them first and then cut them into 1-inch pieces. Be sure to cut them into even portions so that they cook at the same rate. You don’t want to just cut them into random sizes. Doing that will cause some pieces to be cooked, over cooked and undercooked.

Butter

To make this easy, cut them into 1-tablespoon pieces. Simply grab it straight from your fridge and cut along the measurement lines to come up with 8 diced pieces. This should not softened or left at room temperature.

Heavy cream

Heat up the heavy cream in a pot but don’t let it boil or simmer. Just allow it to get hot. Once you see steam coming out, it is hot enough.

How to make mashed purple sweet potatoes

Step one:

In a large pot, add the peeled and cut potatoes, 1 tablespoon of salt and water. Make sure the potatoes are fully covered in water.

Step two:

Boil and cook for about 12 to 15 minutes until the potatoes are soft.

Step three:

I test for done-ness by taking a knife and poking through the largest piece I can find. Why? Because if my largest 1-inch piece is done, then I can rest assured that all of them are cooked. 

  • If there is no resistance in pulling the knife away from the potato you just pierced, then your purple potatoes are cooked.
  • Note that purple potatoes take a little bit longer to cook than its white or orange relatives. 
  • The color of the water will change to blue/purple. Don’t worry, this is all natural.

Step four:

When the potatoes are done, strain them into a colander and drain.

Step five:

Put the potatoes back into the same pot and turn on the heat to medium, just to dry out the potatoes further. We are not cooking them.

Step six:

With the heat on, use a potato masher or a rubber spatula to mash the potatoes. 

Step seven:

Slowly add half of the cream and 4 pats of butter. Mix well.

Step eight:

Pass the mashed potatoes through a sieve and into another bowl to get it extra smooth. This is how it is done in French cooking to get a potato puree.

Step nine:

When passed, add the rest of the cream and butter.

Step ten:

Season with salt and pepper.

Now you’re ready to serve this side dish with your favorite entree.

The amazing health benefits of purple sweet potatoes

  • Just like most any other vegetable full of color, you can tell that the purple sweet potato is high in antioxidants, two to three times more than their white or yellow counterparts.

  • Purple potatoes are high in anthocyanins, which is the pigment that causes blueberries to be blue or eggplants to be purple. Anthocyanins are antioxidants. Antioxidants protect your cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals may play a part in cancer, heart disease, stroke and other diseases of aging.

  • A good intake of anthocyanins has been linked to numerous health benefits such as: healthier cholesterol levels, better vision, reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.

  • All types of potatoes, including the purple kind contain minerals and nutrients found in their skin and flesh. It has higher potassium levels than bananas, which is particularly good for reducing blood pressure.
  • Eating purple sweet potatoes with the skin on has the added benefit of adding to your fiber intake.

Tips

  • Treat purple sweet potatoes as a regular potato. You may need to cook it a tad longer due to its higher starch content, but other than that, use it as you would with regular potatoes.
  • Try it in a Thai curry with vegetables, not just for that pop of color, but for flavor too.
  • You can also mix it into your summer potato salad, make some sweet potato fries, use a mandolin to make potato chips, bake and roast with yellow and white potatoes.

  • You can even substitute it for ube, or purple yam and make crinkle cookies like my wife did. This was a great way to get kids involved in the kitchen. First off, who wouldn’t want to sink their hands and mold this pretty purple dough into rounds and dunk them into powdered sugar? You can learn more about the unexpected benefits of cooking with your kids in this blog post *HERE*.

They made lovely teacher appreciation presents for school.

Wrapping it up

Purple sweet potatoes can be found year-round at your local supermarket or farmers market depending on where you live. They might not have it in stock all the time, but for the most part, they do grow all year with the peak of harvest in the fall.

They are highly nutritious with its high antioxidant properties boasting a wide range of health benefits including better cholesterol levels, better eye health and vision, reduced risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

You can treat purple sweet potatoes like most any kind of potato, including them in soups, stews or salads and even sweets. Skin on or off, you can benefit from its nutritional value both from the skin and flesh.

Mashed Purple Sweet Potato Recipe

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purple sweet potatoes side dish for chicken fried steak

Mashed Purple Sweet Potatoes


  • Author: Rafael Gonzalez
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 25
  • Total Time: 30
  • Yield: 6-8 1x

Description

Mashed purple sweet potatoes make a vibrant side dish. Try this recipe to surprise your family with a bright and flavorful take on the usual mashed potatoes with gravy.


Ingredients

Scale

1 lb. purple sweet potatoes

1/2 cup butter

2 cups heavy cream


Instructions

  1. Peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters.
  2. Transfer them to a medium to large pot and cover with water.
  3. Bring to a boil. The water will turn purple or blue.
  4. While waiting for the potatoes to come to a boil, heat the heavy cream until it steams. Do not simmer or boil. It just needs to be hot.
  5. Cut the butter stick into 8 pats or 8 tablespoons.
  6. When the potatoes are ready, drain and return to heat to dry out the potatoes further.
  7. Use a potato masher or a rubber spatula to mash the potatoes. 
  8. Add half of the cream and the half of the butter. You want the cream to be hot and the butter to be cold.
  9. Keep mashing until combined.
  10. Pass the mashed potatoes through a sieve for a smooth, restaurant-style consistency.
  11. When passed, add the remaining warm cream and butter pats and mix until well combined.
  12. Serve with your favorite main dishes.

Keywords: purple sweet potatoes, Okinawan purple potatoes, how to make mashed purple sweet potatoes, creamy mashed potatoes, purple pomme puree

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