Sweet, creamy, and starchy. That is how delicious sweet potatoes are. Sweet potatoes give a unique flavor to many kinds of recipes. You can enjoy it boiled, fried, steamed, grilled, baked, roasted, and more! There are so many things to go around with sweet potatoes! This tube comes in various colors and is nutritionally low in calories and packed with antioxidants too!
(Also Read: Sweet Potato, Coconut + Carrot Soup, Black Bean & Sweet Potato Enchiladas + Easy Enchilada Sauce from Scratch!)
Many people tend to buy sweet potatoes in bulk. And if you’re planning to have them at home, ensure that you know how to correctly store it and know how long it will last in your storage. And, you must be aware of how you will tell if the sweet potatoes have gone bad?
How To Store Sweet Potatoes?
There are plenty of things to take note of when storing potatoes. You will have to consider where it is harvested from your home garden or store-bought.
Storing fresh homegrown potatoes
Before anything else, sweet potatoes need to be cured after harvesting. Curing potatoes will take up to 10 days or more under a high relative humidity of 85 – 90 percent. This process is done to give time for the sweet potatoes to develop a sweeter taste.
Washing would usually be your first step before storing any food in the storage room. But for sweet potatoes, no, especially if you happen to grow them in your garden. Actually, washing your newly harvested sweet potatoes will leave too much moisture on the surface. This will serve as a ticket to rapid rotting. Yes, don’t wash it unless you are going to use it on the same day.
Your next question may sound like: “How will you deal with the dirt sticking on the sweet potatoes if you don’t wash it?”
The next step is to use a dry cloth to remove any excess dirt or soil after harvesting. Then place it away from other washed fruits or vegetables. This is a way to help preserve the potatoes for a longer time than washing it before storing it. Make sure to keep your fresh harvest in a cool, dry place.
If you have accidentally pierced some of your potatoes while harvesting, that is okay. These lovely sweet potatoes will heal themselves naturally while in the curing process.
Storing store-bought potatoes
It is common to wash and any fresh food bought from the grocery store before storing it. When it comes to potatoes, you don’t have to wash it before storing it as mentioned earlier. Instead, just wipe it with a clean cloth if you are not going to use the sweet potatoes yet then store it.
If you are planning to keep sweet potatoes for a long time, choose the properly cured ones. Sweet potatoes are temperature-sensitive. It is best to store these sweet potatoes in a cool, dry place to not sprout and deteriorate faster. Some recommend keeping it in places like the basement, garage, or cellar.
Your food pantry will make the right storage area for these potatoes. Ideally, your storage temperature should be between 45 – 55 degrees Fahrenheit. It should be cooler than ambient temperatures but not colder than refrigerated conditions.
Place your sweet potatoes in a basket or a pierced paper bag to keep them dry and allow air to circulate. Again, do not wash it yet unless you are ready to use them. Make sure to keep your sweet potatoes away from onions because they give off chemicals that will speed up the spoiling process.
If you have noticed, a peeled and sliced sweet potato turns brown when exposed to oxygen. That reaction is called enzymatic browning. To prevent your sweet potatoes from oxidizing, apply an acid such as lemon juice or lime.
When you buy some pre-chopped sweet potatoes for later use, store them in a bowl or basin filled with cold water, then place it in the fridge. As much as possible, use it within the day.
Storing sweet potatoes in the fridge is advisable but not ideal. It may surely prolong its shelf life, but the flavor and consistency will be compromised. The center part of sweet potatoes hardens when refrigerated, and that will alter to an unpleasant taste.
Storing cooked sweet potatoes
Fried potatoes. When you don’t want to dispose of some leftovers of cooked sweet potatoes, keep all inside a container with an airtight seal prior to storing it in the refrigerator.
Mashed sweet potatoes. Darkening is one thing you don’t want to happen to your mashed sweet potatoes. Before tossing it in the refrigerator, you can add a little lemon juice or equivalent to minimize oxidation.
Baked sweet potatoes. Keep these in an airtight container and put it in the fridge.
Can I freeze sweet potatoes?
Raw sweet potatoes. It is not advisable to freeze raw sweet potatoes because they do not freeze so well. Instead, storing it in the freezer will deteriorate faster. Well, if you’re up for some sweet potato fries, you can keep it in the freezer for a moment then cook it.
If you consider freezing your sweet potatoes, it is best to cook it first before tossing it in the freezer. Wash and peel the potatoes first before boiling them. After that, you either mash or cut the sweet potatoes into thin slices rather than freeze it as a whole. Sprinkle it with 1 tsp of lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Lastly, store it in an airtight container or freezer bag then toss it in the freezer.
Sprouted sweet potatoes. If you still want to save your already sprouted potatoes, slice the sprouts off and have it cooked until it softens. After that, you will have to store it in the freezer once it has cooled down. Anytime you need some potatoes, at least these frozen ones can serve as your back-up.
Cooked sweet potatoes. Whether it is baked, steamed, roasted, boiled, or stewed, it is safe to keep cooked sweet potatoes in freezing conditions as long as you have it stored inside an airtight container.
In thawing or defrosting your frozen sweet potatoes, you can use a microwave, a non-stick pan, or defrost it overnight in the refrigerator.
Do they go bad?
Yes, sweet potatoes can go bad. Sweet potatoes are generally sweet and have a starchy and creamy texture because their water content is high. A food that has a higher water content tends to go bad more quickly.
Moreover, it is discouraged to store sweet potatoes with other vegetables like onions, bananas, or apples because it helps them ripen and sprout more quickly than expected.
How long do they last?
Sweet potatoes are available all-year-round. It has a shelf life that can live for a week on the countertop and up to two weeks in a cool and dry pantry. Sweet potatoes can even last longer, up to a month, if stored at a temperature cooler than ambient temperatures.
Once the sweet potatoes are cut open, it is recommended to use it within a day or two. However, it can still reach up to a week or so in the fridge under proper storage conditions.
As for your cooked sweet potatoes, it can last 3 to 5 days when refrigerated. Frozen cooked sweet potatoes can stay in the freezer for more than one month. Just make sure that you have them appropriately wrapped.
If you found some canned sweet potatoes at the grocery store, you can keep it in your pantry for a year. Once you open it, it should be placed in the refrigerator and consume it within the week.
How to tell if sweet potatoes are already spoiled?
Mishandling will definitely shorten the shelf life of your sweet potatoes. Here are the things you should check if the sweet potato is already rotten:
- Wrinkles. Check the appearance of your sweet potato. If it has already gone shriveled or wrinkled, that means loss of moisture, making it less pleasant for consumption.
- Unusual color. If your potatoes’ color has transformed from its regular color to brown, and later black, then that’s already spoiled. You should throw it away immediately.
- Softness. Fresh sweet potatoes should be hard. Hold it and feel for any signs of softness starting from the ends. If you feel some unusual softness to it, that may indicate that it is already old. If you just leave it be, it will become mushy and odorous.
- Mold growth. If you have spotted some signs of white or green mold thriving on the crevices of the sweet potato, try to peel it off safely, then roast or boil the potatoes to your desire.
- Black spots. Seeing black spots on your sweet potatoes suggests that it got infected by a fungus. If you see these fungi, you should discard it. These black fungus will only make your sweet potatoes taste bitter.
- Growing sprouts. This happens if you leave the sprouts growing out of the sweet potato on its own devices. The flesh will serve as its source of food for the sprouts to grow. As a result, your sweet potato will lose its flavor, and it will become less appealing.
Is it safe to eat sprouted sweet potatoes?
Yes, it is. As long as it is firm with no signs of rotting, you can safely eat sweet potatoes with the small sprouts. Some people just remove the part with the sprouts while some include it in their cooking. Some claim that it surprisingly tastes like spinach.
Should I be worried about the white sap oozing out of the sliced sweet potato?
No, that is only natural. That white and sticky liquid oozing out from a sliced sweet potato flesh is just starch and water. You should be happy to see it because that means you got yourself some fresh sweet potatoes! If you don’t see this, that means your sweet potato is not very fresh.
I see holes inside the flesh of the sweet potato. Should I throw it away?
No, don’t! That sweet potato might have undergone some changes in environmental conditions while growing. Holes or hollow areas inside the sweet potatoes are just flesh abnormalities. It is still perfectly safe to eat them as usual!