Contributed

Scientists give spuds a makeover

THE humble sweet potato is getting a makeover with Queensland scientists researching varieties with new colours, tastes and shapes tailored for Queensland growers and consumers alike.

Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI) research horticulturist Russell McCrystal said this work would hopefully encourage greater consumption of this versatile vegetable.

“The sweet potatoes we are developing are visually exciting with a mix of purple, red, orange and white skin and flesh,” Mr McCrystal said.

“You can buy the purple and white varieties at the supermarket at the moment, but they make up a very small percentage of the market and are only available for a short period each year.

“The new varieties we’re working on are based on these current varieties. They will be of a more consistent shape and will be available year round.

“Not only will these sweet potatoes give a new look to your dish, they’ll also provide a range of health benefits.

“The new pigments will offer a better range of nutrients, including higher levels of anthocyanins, which have been linked to fighting cancer, aging and neurological diseases, inflammation, diabetes and bacterial infections.

“The traditional Beauregard sweet potato with orange skin and flesh makes up 95 per cent of production in Australia. Our varieties will cater for gaps in the traditional market with their different flavours for a variety of tastes.”

Mr McCrystal said DEEDI was also researching ways to develop a fatter and more consistent vegetable that would produce less waste in the kitchen.

“These sweet potatoes will be more robust and less susceptible to viruses and soil insects, which in turn will provide consumers with a cleaner and greener product,” he said.


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