As Thanksgiving approaches once again I am searching for Hayman sweet potatoes. Thanksgiving is about tradition and in our family Hayman sweet potatoes are part of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Much like my Sister in Law, who is from Baltimore, insists that having sauerkraut with turkey is traditional, we have Haymans. Haymans appear in small quantities in stores that range from Super Giant in Salisbury to small produce stands along side the road. I asked the produceman today in Walmart if he had any and he just chuckled. I assume you won't see Haymans in Walmart. You have to be careful in buying Haymans as they will try and pass any white sweet potato off on you and call it a Hayman. The scarcity of Haymans seem to increase each year. Unlike the red sweet potato that you can bake when you buy it, Haymans have to be cured for a couple of weeks for the starch/sugar to form. If you are looking for Haymans for Thanksgiving now is the time to buy them. With the Supermarket sales on the price of Turkeys, frequently the Hayman Sweet potatoes cost more than the Turkey.
I understand this year was a bad year for Haymans. The availability of them may be to the point where, like Elaine on Seinfield deciding who is spongeworthy, we may have to decide who is Hayman worthy at our Thanksgiving dinner. For those of you who may have moved here from elsewhere and don't know what a Hayman is, it is a white sweet potato but not just any white sweet potato it is the King of white sweet potatoes on Delmarva. They are prized so much that I have read the Devil wouldn't offer a Hayman to Eve, he would have eaten it himself. Like myself the Hayman is homely and unlike myself a Hayman is rarely fat. One of the signs of telling real Haymans is they are un-uniform in size and shape. The Hayman will usually only be palm size. I don't know how anyone can cull Haymans. Compared to a "normal" red sweet potato 95% of Haymans are culls. Some years our luck in finding Haymans was so bad they have looked liked slightly swollen roots instead of sweet potatoes, but they still taste good. Haymans are difficult to grow and a farmer is lucky if they get half the yield in Haymans compared to other sweet potatoes.
My wife bakes Haymans the same as any other sweet potato. First wash them (they always look dirty even after washing), Grease them, bake at 350/375 for an hour and a half to two hours, when soft to the touch they are done. The flesh of a Hayman when raw is white and when cooked the flesh turns a slight green color with brown juices. There are other recipes with Hayman in them but Haymans are scarce enough I have never wanted to waste one in trying other recipes. One that I have been tempted to try is Hash