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Vick Family Farms launches Steamables fingerling sweet potatoes

wilson, nc — Vick Family Farms, a major sweet potato grower in a state where most sweet potatoes are grown, has launched a new product line, Carolina Steamables, which caters to the ready-to-go householder by cooking in a microwave in eight to 10 minutes. Charlotte D. Vick, partner and head of sales and marketing for Vick Family Farms, said the company started shipping the new product in late December, mainly to Northeastern states.

Each bag holds six to eight fingerling sweet potatoes and weighs 1.5 pounds. The bags are shipped 12 to a carton. Vick invested in the machinery to pack and seal each bag in-house, she said. “Today’s busy household cook, man or woman, is interested in meals that don’t take much preparation, and our Carolina Steamables line is designed to appeal to that,” she added.

IMG 7201Charlotte D. VickNormally, a one-pound sweet potato will cook in a preheated oven at 400 degrees in 50 minutes to one hour, so the already-washed Steamables brand saves at least 50 minutes in preparing the sweet potatoes, preheating the oven and cooking the potatoes, Vick pointed out.

Jerome Vick, Charlotte’s father, has managed the farms for 40 years. Three decades ago, he began planting sweet potatoes on five acres. Today, he’s planting 1,000 acres of sweet potatoes, and Vick Family Farms expanded refrigerated storage space in 2015 to cure and store sweet potatoes year-round.

“We used research at North Carolina State University to design our expanded storage facility. The research showed that horizontal refrigerated storage maintained sweet potato quality for a year or more,” he said.

Half of this year’s Vick’s sweet potato crop will be exported for sale abroad, mainly to Europe, he said. For the German market, cartons of Carolina Gold sweet potatoes bear the words “Suss Kartoffeln,” German for “sweet potatoes.”

Sales to processing plants that put sweet potatoes in cans are “a brand new market,” he noted, along with processing facilities that use sweet potatoes for juice drinks, pet food, chips, fries, and biscuit mixes, not to mention vodka and whiskey. “These plants can use sweet potatoes that otherwise would go to waste,” he said, “because of their size and shape.”