In season early spring: Kumara (sweet potato)

Reviewed by our expert panel
In season early spring: Kumara (sweet potato)

Kumara have been grown and eaten in New Zealand since Maori first arrived.

There are three main varieties: Owairaka Red (red-skinned and creamy-fleshed), Toka Toka Gold (golden skin and flesh), and Beauregard (orange-fleshed).


Select firm kumara with smooth and unbroken skin.


Remove from plastic packaging and store in a cool, dry place (the pantry is ideal), not the fridge.


Kumara are remarkably nutritious vegetables:

  • High in dietary fibre (maintains healthy digestion, weight control)
  • A source of vitamin C (helps support a healthy immune system)
  • The orange variety is an excellent source of carotenoids. Our body can convert some carotenoids into vitamin A which is important for normal vision
  • A good source of the antioxidant vitamin E
  • Have a lower glycaemic index than potatoes


Kumara can be boiled, mashed, roasted and used in a range of dishes. Peeling isn’t necessary — just scrub in water to remove dirt.

  • Use a combination of colours in salads (warm or cold)
  • Add to your usual roasted vegetables for flavour and colour
  • Chunks of kumara make a delicious and healthy addition to a curry
  • Include grated kumara in a stuffing
  • Use to top a cottage pie
  • Team kumara wedges with grilled meat or add to a warm salad: pair with orange segments and spring onions and drizzle with orange juice and sweet chilli sauce dressing
  • Kiwi-fy the popular American dessert pumpkin pie: try kumara pie instead
  • Try this recipe: Crushed kumara, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach with poached egg
Did you know? Kumara is thought to originate from South America where remnants of the plant dating as far back as 8000 BC have been found.
First published: Sep 2012

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