Sweet Potato Fly

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I first read of the fly on Wayne’s Guyana Outpost and thought it sounded really interesting. Sweet potato lemonade. I avoided making the recipe for quite a while because I thought it would be a bitch to clarify and I’d be left with a starchy mess… well apparently its a little easier than I thought. The first time I attempted to make the recipe I accidentally bought a strange variety of potato that didn’t produce a lot of pumpkin like sweet flavor but rather something less sweet, more mineral driven and very sophisticated. For anyone wondering what they end up with, Harold McGee does a lot to differentiate the types of sweet potatoes found in his On Food and Cooking. Anyhow, who would think you could bring terroir to lemonade?

I enjoyed the distinct minerality of those sweet potatoes which was brought on by the calcareous clay marls of a west facing terraced Guyana hillside. From the west indies potato appellation controllee of lemonheart hill [satire].

The conventional sweeter variety was okay too but for some reason I remember the previous potatoes being much more adult.

So this is basically a classic lemonade recipe with lemon juice, sugar, and sweet potato water to dilute and add flavor contrast. It is so much easier than I thought to get the sweet potato water clear. You basically just roast the potatoes until they are really soft, de-skin and mash them, then cook for a while with the additional amount of water that you want to bring out of them. Simply run the pulp while really hot through a fine kitchen strainer. Then run it again hot through a coffee filter. My roasting at 400 f took an hour but getting the reasonably clear percolated water took less than 10 minutes. For anyone that wants more details within the recipe, the way you roast the potatoes can alter the flavor because a lot of sugar is produced by starch consuming enzymes and Harold Mcgee explains the options well.

4 cups of sweet potato water (flavored by pulp of six medium sized roasted sweet potatoes)

1.5 cups lemon juice

.75 cups of white sugar

1 extra cup of water because i thought it needed to be diluted more…

For those that are counting the sweet potato water rang in at 10.5 brix. Which may be a potential alcohol of 5.4% (maltose not sucrose, which is 30% as sweet as sugar so who knows the measure is accurate or if you can really get that much alcohol). I’m sure you could probably get more sugar out of them and they’d make a pretty rocking beer (sweet potato ginger beer).

I drank my fly with flor de cana’s gold rum but next time around I think I’ll try batavia arrack van oosten for a little more flavor contrast.

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2 thoughts on “Sweet Potato Fly”

  1. this is quite a popular post according to google searches. i think that with some elementary beer making skills (a hydrometer, champagne bottle and capper, yeast) you could use a hydrometer and produce a dry-sweet-potato-ginger-beer-fly by adapting amerine’s champagne pressure table for the sugars found in sweet potatos. you would dilute to the point that the natural sugars produced just enough pressure.

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