An Overabundance of Sweet Potatoes

The other home canning blog lied to me.


I’m sure it wasn’t deliberate. If my kids had cubed the sweet potato small enough and if I’d been using 1L jars instead of 500mL (quart instead of pint) the suggestion of one kilogram of orange tuber to 1 litre of canned yumminess might have been more accurate. But they didn’t, and I wasn’t, so I find myself with 17 perfect 500mL jars of sweet potato, a large mixing bowl full of peeled, chopped, raw sweet potato, and four more sweet potatoes that I realized in time should be left whole.

Today’s life lesson for my kids was that the job isn’t done until the mess is cleaned up. Other times, I’ve let them leave after the job I actually asked of them was done. Peels might be all over floor and table, a couple of cubes might be on the floor covered in pet hair of three colours, and all the cutting boards might still be orange and sticky with sharp knives still out on top of them, but if the sweet potato was peeled and chopped, they were done.

Well, not today. Today the cutting boards are washed, one bag of peel is in the freezer for the next time I make broth, the table has been wiped and the floor swept, all before the dulcet tones of Steven Universe filled my house again.

The basic recipe for pressure-canned sweet potato is super easy. You peel and chop – if you want to be fancy about it, you can steam the peels loose, but if you’re not up for the extra time investment of that, you can just peel them like regular potatoes. Ideal size is about a one-inch cube. My kids didn’t manage that, but they got them small enough to fill the jars pretty well so I was happy.

Then you fill hot jars with the cold sweet potato, fill up to the one-inch-head-space line with boiling water from the kettle, affix seals and rims, fill your canner, and process at 11 pounds pressure for 65 minutes for 500mL jars, 90 minutes for 1L jars.

That second number is the reason I used 500mL jars and not 1L.

It takes at least half an hour for the canner to build its head of steam and then build to 11 pounds of pressure. It takes a further thirty minutes or more to come back down to regular pressure once you take it off the heat. Until that process is complete, you can’t open the canner. So processing for 65 minutes actually means watching a pot boil for about two hours, only the last half-hour of which you can wander away. I finished all my dishes, corralled my kids into finishing their part of things, ate some leftovers for lunch, caught up on my Twitter mentions, perused recipes for using already-cooked sweet potato and butternut squash, and knit two inches of a sock in that time.

So, all that leftover uncooked sweet potato? I think I’m going to run my pressure canner again tomorrow, with the last four untouched taters and the chopped ones. I don’t have it in me to watch a pot boil for four whole hours in a single day. I suspect the canner will be about half full, leaving me with around 25 jars of sweet potato. For future reference, that’s about 50% more than I anticipated.

Edit: I ran the pressure canner again and got 13 more jars. That’s a total of 32 jars. I ran out of seals. I NEVER run out of seals. And I have enough sweet potato canned to eat it once a week until the middle of April.

Lessons learned:

  • One kilogram of sweet potato is about four 500mL jars. Not two. Four.
  • Teenagers absolutely can learn to clean up after themselves in the kitchen.

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