The Secret to Making Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries
I have witnessed a trend lately of using sweet potatoes in applications normally reserved for the standard potato. Even fast food restaurants like Burger King and Culvers have been offering sweet potato fries as an alternative. A lot of people like to make those fries in their own kitchen. For health reasons, baking is the usual option. However this experience often ends in frustration. The trick is making them crispy without frying them in fat. Baking them rarely turns out a fry as crispy as people want. The moisture in the sweet potato means you have to cook them longer to make them crisp. But if you do, they are easy to burn because of the natural sugars found in the sweet potato. Sugar likes to burn in the oven. Is there anything you can do to overcome this problem? I have come up with a solution – change the variety!
Use Stokes Purple Sweet Potatoes
The Stokes Purple Sweet Potato is a non-GMO variety that is purple both on the inside and out. This variety is just beginning to grow in popularity. In 2012, 60 acres of Stokes Purple were planted in California and North Carolina. The reason why this potato makes excellent baked sweet potato fries is because it is drier than other sweet potato varieties. It is moisture that gets in the way of a crispy fry. Since this variety starts out with less moisture to begin with you don’t have to cook them as long to crisp them up, thus decreasing the likelihood they will burn first.
What If I Can’t Find Purple Sweet Potatoes
Here is the problem. They aren’t necessarily easy to find. Supplies are expected to run out from the 2012 harvest in April or May 2013. You can buy them directly from North Carolina until then. I haven’t seen them in any store in quite a while. They mostly popped in my local grocery stores close to Thanksgiving. If you cannot find them, there is another technique to employ with any variety of sweet potato that will help you in your quest for crispy.
Draw Out Moisture Before Baking
Salt has been used for centuries to draw moisture out. The concept can be applied here. Most people probably put salt on their sweet potato fries before baking, so that really isn’t revolutionary. The secret is to put salt on them and leave them out of the oven for 20 to 30 minutes. This will give the salt a chance to draw water out of the potatoes before you bake them. Kosher salt is the best salt for the job. Kosher salt will stick to the sweet potatoes better. The moisture on the surface will evaporate when you put them in the oven. This way you are starting out with a drier sweet potato to begin with. This gives you a better chance of making them crisp before the sugars within burn.
- 2 sweet potatoes (preferably Stokes Purple)
- kosher salt
- grape seed oil (or your preferred cooking oil)
- freshly ground black pepper (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
- Cut the sweet potatoes into even sized fries. You can peel the sweet potatoes first if you prefer, I just leave the peel on.
- Place onto a half sheet pan. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
- Allow to sit for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Drizzle the oil on top of the fries.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Flip and bake until brown about another 10-15 minutes. Check frequently so they don't burn.