African sweet potatoes widely vary in size, shape, and color depending on growing conditions, and are generally oblong, cylindrical, to slightly bulbous in shape with curved, tapered ends. The skin is firm, thin, semi-rough, and purple, covered in medium-set eyes and fine root hairs. Underneath the surface, the flesh is dense, crisp, and cream-colored to ivory. African sweet potatoes, when cooked, have a tender, moist, and creamy consistency with a mild, sweet, and nutty flavor.
The roots also contain vitamins C and B6, calcium, iron, and fiber to help stimulate the digestive tract.
Tahitian sweet potatoes are best suited for cooked applications such as steaming, baking, roasting, and frying. The roots can be prepared with their skin on and are popularly steamed and mashed into a sweet, creamy side dish, or they can be incorporated into gratins, souffle, and baked goods such as bread, cakes, and pies. Tahitian sweet potatoes can also be cooked and mixed with spices, curry paste, chiles, and coconut milk to create a spicy potato salad, sliced and roasted for a caramelized exterior, pureed and used as a base underneath pork, or sliced into wedges and fried. In Tahiti, sweet potatoes are used as a flavor variation for the traditional pudding-like dessert known as po’e. Tahitian sweet potatoes pair well with coconut milk, lime juice, herbs such as cilantro, coriander, and thyme, fei bananas, avocado, beets, tomatoes, celery, spinach, seafood, and meats such as poultry and pork. The roots will keep up to a week when stored in a cool, dry, and dark place with good air circulation.