Sweet potatoes are a nutritional powerhouse, packed with essential vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants that our bodies need to function optimally.
However, nothing sours the joy of these tasty tubers quicker than finding your stash has sprouted, turned mushy, or discolored.
Proper storage techniques can extend their shelf-life, ensuring you have fresh sweet potatoes ready for your favorite recipes.
Store sweet potatoes in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place, ideally between 55-60°F (12.8-15.5°C). Don’t wash them until usage, and keep them whole in a breathable container, like a cardboard box or mesh bag. Avoid refrigeration and storage in plastic bags or near other fruits and vegetables.
Understanding Sweet Potatoes
Sweet Potato Variety and Quality
Before delving into storage details, it’s important to grasp that not all sweet potatoes are created equal. There are various types, such as Jewel, Beauregard, and Japanese sweet potatoes, each having its own unique characteristics, flavor profiles, and storage needs.
Selecting high-quality, fresh sweet potatoes is the first step toward successful storage. Look for firm potatoes, free from cuts, blemishes, or soft spots.
Ideal Conditions for Sweet Potato Storage
Sweet potatoes prefer a dark, cool, and well-ventilated environment to prolong their shelf life. This makes your pantry or basement an ideal storage spot.
Temperature and Humidity
The optimal temperature range for storing sweet potatoes is between 55-60°F (12.8-15.5°C). Any cooler and sweet potatoes might get a hard center and poor flavor; any warmer and they may sprout prematurely or rot.
Sweet potatoes also require about 60-70% relative humidity to prevent them from drying out.
Light can cause sweet potatoes to turn green and develop solanine, a naturally occurring toxin in some nightshade family plants.
Though not usually harmful in small amounts, large doses of solanine can cause unpleasant symptoms. Hence, sweet potatoes should be kept in a dark area.
Sweet Potato Storage Methods
Here’s where we get into the nitty-gritty of how to keep your sweet potatoes fresh for as long as possible.
Storing Raw Sweet Potatoes
Once you have selected your quality sweet potatoes, follow these steps:
- Don’t wash them: Moisture can accelerate spoilage. Instead, brush off any dirt but leave the washing until just before use.
- Store them whole: Cutting sweet potatoes can expose them to bacteria, leading to faster spoilage. Keep them whole until you are ready to use them.
- Use breathable containers: A cardboard box, basket, or mesh bag can provide good ventilation to prevent the buildup of moisture, reducing the risk of mold or rot.
Storing Cooked Sweet Potatoes
Cooked sweet potatoes need to be refrigerated. Store them in an airtight container within two hours of cooking and they should last in the fridge for about 5-7 days.
Storing Cut Sweet Potatoes
Once sweet potatoes are cut, their shelf life diminishes considerably. However, there are times when you might want to store cut sweet potatoes, such as when preparing meals in advance or when you have leftovers. Here’s how to do it:
- For short-term storage: Place the cut sweet potatoes in a bowl of water to prevent them from discoloring, cover the bowl, and store it in the refrigerator. They should be used within 24-48 hours for optimal freshness. Change the water daily if they’re stored for more than a day.
- For long-term storage: Cut sweet potatoes can be blanched and then frozen. To blanch, drop the cut pieces in boiling water for 2 minutes, then immediately cool them in ice water. After drying them thoroughly, store the pieces in a freezer-safe container or bag, removing as much air as possible. Frozen sweet potatoes can be used for up to 12 months.
Remember, cut sweet potatoes stored this way should be cooked before eating, and never consumed raw due to the risk of bacterial growth during the storage period.
While both sweet potatoes and regular potatoes prefer cool, dark, well-ventilated storage conditions, the two differ significantly in their tolerance for cold.
Unlike regular potatoes, which can be stored in the refrigerator, sweet potatoes can develop an off taste and hard center if refrigerated due to their tropical origins. Learn how to store potatoes to learn more.
If you are looking for a new recipe to try, try this baked sweet potato recipe!
|Storage||Raw Sweet Potatoes||Cut Sweet Potatoes||Cooked Sweet Potatoes|
|Where to Store||Pantry, basement, or other cool, dark, well-ventilated area||Refrigerator (short term) / Freezer (long term)||Refrigerator|
|Container||Cardboard box, basket, or mesh bag||Bowl of water (refrigerator) / Freezer-safe bag or container (freezer)||Airtight container|
|Shelf Life||1-2 months||1-2 days in the refrigerator, up to 12 months in the freezer||5-7 days|
What To Avoid
Avoid the following while storing sweet potatoes:
- Don’t store sweet potatoes in the fridge: Refrigerating raw sweet potatoes can lead to a hard center and an unpleasant taste.
- Don’t store them in plastic bags: Plastic bags can trap moisture and cause your sweet potatoes to rot more quickly.
- Don’t store them with other fruits or vegetables: Many fruits and vegetables, like apples and potatoes, give off ethylene gas as they ripen. This gas can cause sweet potatoes to sprout prematurely.
How To Tell If Sweet Potatoes Have Gone Bad
Recognizing if your sweet potatoes have gone bad is essential to avoid food wastage and potential health risks.
Generally, sweet potatoes are considered bad if they have developed a foul smell, show signs of mold, or have large discolored areas and spots.
If you cut into the sweet potato and it’s discolored inside or has dark or black areas, it’s best to throw it out. Always trust your senses; if it looks, smells, or feels off, it’s likely spoiled.
Frequently Asked Questions About How To Store Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a delicious and versatile addition to your pantry, but they require proper storage to maintain their quality and extend their shelf life.
By following the tips provided in this guide, you can keep your sweet potatoes fresh for weeks or even months, ensuring you always have a healthy, delicious ingredient ready for your meals.