Monday, November 27, 2017
The sale of sweet potatoes is on the rise in Belgium. They often come from America or Africa but rarely from Europe. "The transport costs are high and it is less sustainable", says Bart Nemegheer of De Aardappelhoeve. "So I thought: what if we tried it here? There would then be daily supplies, close to home." But growing a tropical plant here, is that even possible? "Our climate is becoming milder", Bart explains. "And the variety we use, the "beauregard", thrives here. The sand-loamy soil in our region is ideal for sweet potatoes. The roots can grow straight down in this soft ground. Despite the cool summer, the harvest was a success. We have simply harvested a little later, in October . ”
Bart and Anja Nemegheer of De Aardappelhoeve are not the only ones who started growing sweet potatoes. Other vegetable growers in Belgium also venture to what Bart calls 'pioneering work'. The sweet potato is not related to the ordinary potato. "Planting it, fertilising it, lifting it: it was all new to me", says Bart. "Especially the harvest must be handled differently. First you have to cut off the tops so the roots can come loose. And then you can lift them. However, our potato lifters would damage the thin peel of the sweet potato. So we had one altered."
First for Colruyt and OKay
According to Lutgard Massaer, buyer of sweet potatoes for Colruyt Group, the Belgian sweet potato presents an obvious added value. "I have been buying sweet potatoes from Senegal, the United States and Spain for years now. Clearly, the product is on the rise. That is why we seized the proposal of De Aardappelhoeve to set up a test project together with both hands." With the volume the growers of Reo Veiling and Belorta supply, our customers will find the first Belgian sweet potatoes at Colruyt and OKay during the months of December and January (according to availability). "I have followed the production in Belgium closely. If the test is a success, the production will be expanded next season."
The sweet potato's flavour comes out best if you roast it in its jacket in the oven. Even the littlest ones will like it in a creamy purée. Discover various delicious recipes on the Lekker Koken website: www.colruyt.be/lekkerkoken