Every year in November, the town of Aljezur celebrates its gastronomic jewel with its own 3-days Festival, aimed to highlight what makes the local sweet potato so special. Craft beers made with the tubers, sweet potato cakes and even sweet potato ice-cream are among the mouth-watering creations that visitors will be able to enjoy.
In 2019, the Event will take place from November the 29th to December the 1st.
More info about this year’s edition by clicking here: Festival da Batata doce de Aljezur
Where I can taste this delicious food in Algarve?
We had the best Otcopus with Sweet potatoes at the restaurant Eira do Mel in Vila do Bispo from the chef José Pinheiro.
A special mention also to the Restaurant “Museu da Batata Doce” in Rogil where you can also buy liquors, jams and much more products made from sweet potatoes.
A product of excellence
Only in Aljezur this root can fulfil the requirements to be produced in “inimitable” conditions. In 2009, the association that represents the Aljezur producers was granted PGI certification. The sweet potato, with the guarantee seal, is confined to the parishes of São Teotónio, São Salvador, Zambujeira do Mar, Longueira/Almograve and Vila Nova de Milfontes. The Lira variety is picked only once a year, between September and mid-November, with the best quality available until April. It has a low glycaemic index, helps to control diabetes, aids in weight loss and prevents anaemia. It reduces cholesterol, regulates blood pressure and strengthens the immune system. Finally, a great source of complex carbohydrates, iron, calcium, vitamins A, C and E, and plays an important role in the formation of collagen.
Origins of the Sweet Potatoes in Aljezur
The town of Aljezur was founded in the tenth century by Arabs and later seized from the Moors in 1249. According to legend, the Knights of the Order of St James of the Sword, led by Paio Peres Correia, used to drink a potion made from sweet potato before any important battle. The force and efficacy of their invasion of Aljezur’s castle stunned the Moors, who were unable to react to such a fast action.
The conquest took place in 1249 and, according to the legend, the potion that was the determining factor in the victory, was none other than the famous ‘feijoada de batata doce de Aljezur’ (the Aljezur sweet-potato bean stew). Whatever the truth of this story, the sweet potato’s origins in Aljezur have been lost over time, which serves to illustrate that it has a long tradition in the region and in local people diet. The root vegetable is perfectly adapted to the natural conditions of this southern region and it is closely linked to local tradition. It is still very used today thanks to its unique characteristics (sweet, smooth and not particularly fibrous) and local people prefer sweet potatoes of the Lira variety produced in this region to those imported.
The nursery area is set up in February when roots are planted 10-15 cm deep in the ground, each one in an area 50×60 cm. In April/May takes place the move to the final growing area when a piece of the stem measuring 25 cm in length is planted. Each one is planted in an area 20×65 cm. The plant remains in the ground for about four months. Most of the harvesting is done in October, when the roots have reached maturity and there is not too much moisture in the soil. After harvesting, the sweet potatoes are dried above ground for around eight days, to allow suberisation and so that any cuts can heal. The sweet potatoes are then washed to remove excess soil and other impurities. Finally they are stored in a cool, ventilated area with an average temperature of 13/14 °C.