Who doesn’t love sweet potato? It’s nutritious, fulfilling, and tasty! Sweet potatoes are not only high in fiber but also rich in vitamins and minerals. The purple and orange varieties are also a decent source for antioxidants.
Sweet potatoes are quite versatile and easy to prepare in multiple ways. Many people use this root vegetable as a healthier substitute for regular potatoes.
Do sweet potatoes go bad? That’s probably one question that pops in your mind when you’re about to pick up a large bag of this starchy vegetable. How long are sweet potatoes good for?
If you grow sweet potatoes in your garden, you might wonder how to properly store them? It’s a pity to let your hard work in the garden end up in the bin if your homegrown produce goes bad before time.
Either way, if you have the same situation above, fear not! Read along and you’ll find more information on sweet potatoes’ shelf life, storage methods, and common signs of bad sweet potatoes.
Storage Tips For Sweet Potatoes
Store-bought and homegrown sweet potatoes require different handling. The bottom line is sweet potatoes are perishable and need proper storage. Sweet potatoes are easy to bruise, so handle them carefully.
So, you just finished harvesting your first homegrown sweet potatoes. What’s next? Before using it for a recipe, you need to follow some steps to enjoy this healthy produce.
If you cook sweet potatoes right after harvesting, they won’t taste sweet as you may have expected. Sweet potatoes need to be cured after harvesting.
To cure sweet potatoes, clean off the soil, and put them in a plastic bag. Poke some holes to give air circulation and store in a hot and humid place, approximately 30-32ºC and 85-90% humidity for at least 4 – 7 days (*).
Curing process aims to develop a sweet flavor by breaking down the starch to sugar. Additionally, the curing process also forms tougher skin over scratches and nicks to prolong the shelf life.
After curing, discard any sweet potatoes that are bruised, moldy, or rotten. These are not safe to consume and will spoil the others.
After curing, sweet potatoes are ready to store for 3 – 6 months up to a year maximum. No need to wash. Quickly move them into a cool, dark place, away from heat and moisture.
Store-bought sweet potatoes are easy to keep. Just like homegrown ones, they belong in a cool, dark place, away from heat and moisture, such as your pantry or basement. Do not refrigerate raw sweet potatoes.
Take them out from the plastic bag and place them in a basket, box, or bowl. You can also wrap them individually with newspapers or brown bags to prevent exposure to moisture.
If your recipe only needs half sweet potato, cover the rest with plastic tied with a rubber band and keep refrigerated. Alternatively, put it in a sealed container.
Cut and peel sweet potatoes right before you cook as they tend to oxidize quickly and turn dark. Soak the leftover in water and keep refrigerated.
Sometimes you can find cut sweet potatoes at a refrigerated shelf in the supermarket. Keep this product refrigerated as soon as you’re home. If the package is resealable, keep the remaining product in the original package after opening. Otherwise, transfer it into a sealed airtight container.
If you have cooked sweet potatoes, whether it is roasted, steamed, or cooked into a dish, always let it cool down before storing it in the fridge.
How do you prevent sweet potatoes from sprouting during storage?
Avoid the following conditions to prevent early sprouting:
1. Longer and improper curing
2. Exposure to moisture and heat
3. Exposure to ethylene gas
Separate sweet potatoes from fruits emitting ethylene gas such as apple, pear, avocado, etc. Ethylene also causes pithy (hole) areas.
Can you freeze sweet potatoes?
Yes, but you will need to cook them before freezing. Raw sweet potatoes don’t freeze well.
You can either blanch, steam, roast, fry, or bake sweet potatoes to your liking. Let them cool down to room temperature before putting them into freezer bags or containers. Divide them into portion size and label with the date of freezing.
How Long Are Sweet Potatoes Good For?
First thing first, start with good quality sweet potatoes which are firm and smooth. Discard bruised or rotten ones before they infect the others.
Under good curing and storage conditions, homegrown sweet potatoes can last up to a year. Meanwhile, fresh store-bought sweet potatoes stay fresh for 2 – 3 weeks in the pantry.
For fresh-cut store-bought sweet potatoes, follow the “best before” or “best by” date for guidance. Cut vegetables last shorter than the whole one. The product may be fine for a few days after the date. Make sure to check any spoilage signs before using it for a recipe.
When properly stored in the fridge, cooked sweet potatoes should be fine to consume within 3 – 5 days. When prepared into a dish, take a look at the other ingredients that go bad the quickest to tell whether the dish is still good.
Frozen sweet potatoes can last up to 10 – 12 months, but after a while, it will start to lose its flavor.
How To Tell If Sweet Potatoes Go Bad
Sweet potatoes are a perishable food item. These tubers are prone to bacterial and mold invasion, metabolism spoilage, and physical degradation. Although sweet potatoes can last pretty long, they will lose their quality and eventually go bad.
Sprouting, dark spot, and pithy (holes) are common signs of quality deterioration. Simply remove the sprouted part or dark spots and use the rest. But, if the whole tuber is affected, better to discard it.
Some common signs of bad sweet potatoes are the presence of molds, significant discoloration, and off-smell. Likewise, if sweet potatoes are shriveled/ wrinkled and have lost its firm texture, these indicate that these tubers have gone bad.
When it comes to cooked sweet potatoes, check for the presence of molds and off-smell. If so, the dish or cooked tubers are no longer safe for consumption.
If you don’t suspect anything, taste a small amount to decide whether to keep it or toss it. Last but not the least, if the dish has been in the fridge for too long, say longer than a week, discard it for safety reasons.
Yes. Sometimes when you slice a sweet potato, small holes termed as pithy, become visible. But if the whole tuber is full of holes here and there, throw it away.
No, simply remove the sprout and the rest is good to eat immediately. But, if sweet potatoes have shriveled and become soft, the nutrients are already absorbed into the growing sprout. This time, it’s better to discard them.
Yes. Whether kept in the fridge or freezer, you can always reheat cooked sweet potatoes. Depending on how you prepped the dish, you can reheat it in the microwave, oven, or pan.
Food poisoning is caused by microbial contamination. It can happen not only after eating contaminated sweet potatoes, but also other food in general. Do not consume rotten, moldy, or suspicious-looking sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes are nutritious and easy to include in your regular diet. These root vegetables are perishable and need proper handling.
Homegrown sweet potatoes require a curing process before storage. Store-bought ones are easy to store at cool, dark place, away from heat and moisture.
At some point, sweet potatoes will lose their quality before eventually going bad. Enjoy this nutrient-packed food before it goes bad.
*Photo by bhofack2/depositphotos