On Thursday, November 19th, over 50 farmers, faculty members, staff and students flooded a small classroom in Kraus in order to taste test six accessions of sweet potatoes for best taste and texture. Upon arrival, tasters received a form and instructions on how to properly conduct the taste test. Individuals then circled the room tasting sweet potatoes and taking a sip of water in between potato stations. Homemade sweet potato pie greeted tasters as a reward for the hard work of taste testing.

The event, which was hosted by Dr. Gina Baucom and Tilo Roy, postdoctoral research associate in EEB, was held to compare the difference between sweet potatoes grown in Matthaei Botanical Garden and Ohio University in Athens, OH. Baucom and Roy will use the data from the taste test to further understand the preferences among the public for specific accessions of sweet potatoes over others, which will allow them to identify varieties suitable for cultivation locally in the Michigan area.

The Baucom lab is assessesing the phenotypic traits of sweet potatoes to determine the best yield in distinct environments. Now we are considering another important quality of the sweet potato–how they taste!

Please help us “Taste the Taters” (Nov 19 @ 5pm). We will taste six different accessions to determine which has the best flavor and texture. With the help of data from the taste test, we will be able to further understand consumer preferences for specific accessions of sweet potatoes. Ultimately, the taste test will help us find and establish varieties most suitable for local cultivation.


Did You know…

  • Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is the seventh most important food crop worldwide, as it is grown on at least eight million hectares in 114 countries.
  • This species is higher in beta carotene than many other vegetables and is a great source of potassium, fiber, vitamins A and C. 
  • In comparison with other major food crops, sweet potatoes produce the highest amount of edible energy per hectare
  • Sweet potatoes play a major role in combating world hunger, malnutrition, and poverty. It is a particularly significant food crop in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa due to its high nutritional value.

There are approximately 6000 varieties of sweet potatoes and they display a remarkable range of variation in their storage roots (size, shape, color), stem coloration, leaf shape, canopy size, leaf color, ability to flower, and overall flower production.

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Taste the Taters!

Thursday, Nov 19 @ 5pm
Kraus (EEB) Building, rm 3141

Photo Left: Tilo Roy, post-doctoral research associate in the EEB dept, collects data on the above-ground biomass of sweet potato varieties grown at the UM Mattheai Botanical Gardens