Aljezur Sweet Potato is the root of the Ipomoea batatas L. plant (syn. Batatas edulis), Lira variety of the Convolvulaceaes family.
Product description and characteristics:
The plant is an herbaceous, perennial species, cultivated annually, with tuberous, sweet, edible roots, with different shapes and sizes. Harvest season is between September and October.
The Aljezur region is home to unique environmental conditions that allow for the optimal growth of these famous reddish-brown skin and yellow pulp roots. This region’s sun, land, climate and unpolluted air give these potatoes a different flavor and renowned quality.
It is also a natural product, commercially referred to as “organic”, as it is not affected by any pest or disease requiring the application of pesticides. Therefore, this is one of the few cultures that never get any plant treatment throughout its vegetative cycle, beginning in February/March until September/October. Fertilization is almost exclusively done with natural products.
This set of conditions allows the Aljezur Sweet Potato to have a Protected Geographical Indication – IGP certification.
Aljezur Sweet Potato production area is naturally limited to Southwest Alentejo and its coast (Aljezur municipality, with approximately 220 acres, and São Teotónio, São Salvador, Zambujeira do Mar and Vila Nova de Milfontes boroughs, with approximately 200 acres).
Legend has it that Santiago knights, led by D. Paio Peres Correia, would take a “potion” made from sweet potato, before every important battle. Their strength and speed while invading Aljezur Castle stunned the Moors, who were unable to react to such impetuous charge. The conquest took place in 1249, and the “potion” that allowed for such victory was, according to the legend, the famous Aljezur Sweet Potato bean stew.
Although there is a chronological dissonance between the aforementioned facts and the effective introduction of sweet potato in Europe (after the discovery of America), the fact is that its origin is lost in time, thus confirming the strong tradition of this production in the region and eating habits of its people.
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