Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
It's very advantageous to learn how to bake sweet potatoes perfectly. Sweet potatoes are packed with nutrition. They are incredibly filling; they are also delicious. Everyone will devour the perfectly baked sweet potato fry, even kids! But what is the proper way to bake a sweet potato? Should you soak them before baking? We dug into this topic to find out the answer to this.
Yes, you should soak sweet potatoes before baking. Soaking sliced sweet potatoes before baking will release surface starches. Releasing surface starches helps to crisp the potatoes on the outside, resulting in a deliciously crispy potato.
In this article, we will dive into food science and how starches in potatoes react to moisture and heat so you can better understand how to bake your potatoes to perfection. We will discuss how long to soak sweet potatoes and in what kind of water, and why. We have all the tips and science behind the tips right here in this article for you. Read on to find out how to bake the perfect sweet potato.
Why do you soak Sweet Potatoes?
Have you ever baked a sweet potato and notice a large amount of goopy orange syrup gushing out around the peel? This syrup is a result of the sweet potato’s starches absorbing the moisture inside the sweet potato. The starches absorb the moisture in the potato when the potato comes in contact with high amounts of heat.
This sweet syrupy goodness can be pleasant when eating a sweet potato whole, with its skin intact. But when your sweet potato fries are limp and stubbornly refusing to get crispy, the moisture-filled starch cells no longer appeal.
This is where soaking your sweet potatoes come in handy. When you soak your sweet potatoes, the starches on the surface of the potatoes are released into the water. It is essential after soaking that you dry the potatoes off completely. If there is any moisture on the outside, it will affect how the potato absorbs its moisture.
How to Soak Sweet Potatoes
If you do these two steps, according to food scientist Shirley O. Corriher, in her book Kitchen Wise, the starch cells left on the outside will swell with the internal moisture of the potato so that they can seal the outside of the potato, helping create a crispy exterior.
Use Ice Water
When soaking your sweet potatoes, it is important to do it in ice water. Warm water will activate the starch cells and allow them to start expanding prematurely. This could prevent their surface from sealing into a perfectly crispy surface when in the oven. Remember, the purpose of soaking sweet potatoes is to release the starches from the surface of the potato. Ideally, there will not be as many on the surface absorbing moisture when you begin baking.
Rinse and Drain
After soaking your sweet potato in ice water, the next step is to rinse and drain them. Rinsing them will allow the starches pulled from the surface of the potato to fall off the potato.
Once you have rinsed and drain your potatoes, one of the most important steps comes next. As mentioned above, it is crucial to dry your sweet potatoes thoroughly. Pat them dry with a clean dishtowel or a paper towel. Make sure you get every side of your sliced potatoes.
Removing the moisture from the surface of the potato will promote the outside starch cells to pull moisture from the inside of the potato, which will eventually help these cells to form a seal on the surface. You need the right starch to moisture ratio to get the potato surface to seal. This seal is what allows the potatoes to get crispy eventually.
Is it healthy to soak sweet potatoes?
One great thing about soaking your potatoes in ice water before baking is allowing extra starches to be released, so you get all the flavor without all the starchy sugars. Sweet potatoes, while much more nutrient-dense than white potatoes, have even more carbs than white potatoes. If you’re watching your sugar intake, perhaps letting off a few of the starchy cells in some water isn’t a bad idea.
This being said, the main reason people soak their sweet potatoes is not for health reasons. Sweet potatoes are not like grains and seeds that digest more easily when soaked. Sweet potatoes do not have as many phytic acids as grains and seeds. People soak their sweet potatoes to get rid of some of the extra starches on the surface so their cut sweet potatoes will crisp nicely on the outside.
More Tips to Help Your Sweet Potatoes Get Crispy
Here are some more helpful tips when baking the perfect sweet potato. You’ll need to cut your sweet potatoes 1/4 inch thick by 1/4 inch thick. Lay them on their pan and give each fry some space. Cook the potatoes at 425. This will help the water disperse through the potatoes and soften the starch cells while allowing the potato to form a crispy crust at the same time.
The last tip to cooking crispy sweet potatoes is not adding salt to the seasoning atop your fries. Salt will pull extra moisture out of the inside of the potato through osmosis. This will prevent the seal from forming.
Can you soak sweet potatoes in water overnight?
You can soak your sweet potatoes in cold water for one hour overnight. Do not soak your sweet potatoes any longer than overnight, as they will begin to lose their flavor quality and overall structure. Some water salable nutrients will leach into the water, causing your potato to be a bit less nutrient-dense. One to two hours of soaking should do the trick. If soaking overnight is convenient for your, fear not! You will still manage excellent fries.
Sweet potato in water should not be left out of the refrigerator for longer than one hour. If you want to continue soaking your sweet potatoes for longer than an hour, it is important to slide them into the fridge.
Does Soaking Sweet Potatoes Remove Starch?
Yes, soaking sweet potatoes in water does remove the starches from the surface of the sweet potato. So if your sweet potato is peeled, the starches will sweep from the outside of the potato. If your sweet potato is sliced into cubes or fries, this increases the potato's surface area that is in contact with the water and will allow more starches to seep from the potato into the water.
Can you soak sweet potatoes too long?
Yes, it is possible to soak sweet potato too long. If you soak them longer than overnight or about 10 hours, it will cause the sweet potato to lose its flavor. It will also cause the sweet potato to lose its shape. Lastly, it will cause more water-soluble nutrients to be drawn out of the sweet potato. Soaking the sweet potato from 1-10 hours is advised.
Sweet potatoes are delicious, and baking them, so they are crispy on the outside, makes them even more delicious. Soak sweet potatoes in water to remove the extra starches from the outside. If you do this and follow a few more tips, you will get your potatoes extra crispy. Everyone will love them, and they will be gone not long after you pull them out of the oven!
For more information on sweet potatoes, check out these posts!