Here at Tasting Table, we are reluctant to pick a favorite in the ancient autumnal competition between pumpkin pie and sweet potato pie -- hey, fall baking season has room for everybody! But we do acknowledge that the delicately sweet, lightly spiced, almost custardy denseness of a good sweet potato pie is a highlight of the season. However, we also know that the holidays tend to push us home cooks to our limit, cooking and baking more dishes for more people, therefore wise meal prep must become part of the repertoire. So, take it from us: Go ahead and at least boil and mash your sweet potatoes for the pie filling well in advance of the holidays, as they'll keep for months in the freezer. When you're ready to bake, you need do nothing more than thaw the mash, whisk in the other filling ingredients, and spread into a waiting pie shell.
A traditional sweet potato pie filling contains little more than peeled, boiled, and mashed sweet potatoes, eggs, dairy, sugar, and spices (with the addition of maybe a little booze and cream cheese). While it's entirely possible to make the complete pie filling and freeze it, have in mind these two caveats: It will only keep frozen between three and four months, and, worse, the process will make the filling more likely to crack or weep. Because of this, it's probably best to finish off the filling on baking day.
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Sweet Potatoes' Staying Power
So, this begs the question: How long will mashed sweet potatoes keep in the freezer? Answers vary, but everyone agrees they'll be good for up to six months. Here's the process: Peel, cube, and boil your sweet potatoes until tender, then drain and mash. Let them cool completely before freezing -- we can't stress this enough. Place a portioned amount of mashed sweet potatoes into a freezer bag, and flatten with your hands to squeeze out as much air as possible. Then label, date, and freeze.
Are you up for another sweet potato freezer trick? Of course you are: If you prefer roasting sweet potatoes to make your pie filling, try freezing them whole prior to putting them in the oven. The reason is that the freezer will force moisture out of the tubers and allow sufficient time for them to turn starch into sweet maltose. Moreover, slow-roasted frozen sweet potatoes turn out extra fluffy. You should freeze them for at least three hours (or overnight), then bake them from frozen for several hours. While this method will definitely not save you time, it will lead to an unutterably deep, earthy sweetness to your pie that can't be accomplished any other way.
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