This photo, from the back of The Chinese Kitchen Garden book (photo credit: Sarah Culver), is of Lyric and me picking sweet potato leaves from the garden around late summer/early fall. Sweet potato leaves are literally just the leaves of sweet potato plants, meaning the plant does double duty. As long as you don't over the pick leaves (and check out the photo - it would be hard to do this!), you'll still be able to harvest delicious tubers at the end of fall after enjoying greens all summer!
My family grows an heirloom variety of sweet potatoes (a white-colored, ok/good tasting, probably Korean type) that produces smooth-textured, mild, delicious leaves. As you can see from the photo, when all your other greens have bolted in the heat or been decimated by pests, sweet potato leaves are abundant, lush, perfect, and so tasty!
Many people compare sweet potato leaves to spinach and can use them raw as such, but in Chinese kitchens, we generally cook our greens. Pick up a copy of The Chinese Kitchen Garden to learn how to use sweet potato leaves in your own kitchen!
While I really enjoy sweet potatoes (especially in the form of fries), sweet potato leaves are equally delicious. Here are some cooked greens, so easy and healthful in my mom’s go-to recipe that works well with most mild Asian greens. This recipe, and many other traditional, authentically-Chinese recipes can be found in my book. Sweet potato leaves can be hard to find, but so easy to grow yourself. And here’s the kicker – you get to harvest greens throughout the summer, AND have your fresh sweet potato fries in the fall!
I'm Wendy Kiang-Spray, gardener, home cook, and author of The Chinese Kitchen Garden. Learn more about the book here. Enjoy the blog and be sure to like The Chinese Kitchen Garden Facebook page for notifications when there are new posts.