Sweet potatoes are a great addition to any meal and are generally considered healthier than regular russet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are easy to grow, easy to cook, and easy to store for months on end - if you are storing them properly! Storing sweet potatoes isn't tricky, but there are different factors to consider due to their higher sugar content than regular potatoes. How do you get your sweet potatoes to last as long as possible? Read on to learn how to store sweet potatoes and follow our proper storage procedures for optimal freshness.
Selecting The Best Sweet Potato For Storage
There are multiple varieties of sweet potatoes, not all of them orange! The two types that you're most likely to see in the grocery store are the Jewel, which has orange skin and orange flesh, and the Red Garnet, which also has orange flesh but with darker red skin. You might also find sweet potatoes with tan or purple skin. They have white flesh and tend to be starchier and less sweet, more like a russet potato. No matter which variety you're planning on buying for storage, choose ones that are small to medium in size, firm, and smooth with no cracks or cuts. Also, avoid any bruised sweet potatoes.
Tip: You can use the curing process to create a second skin that forms over any scratches or bruises. It allows the sweet potato to last longer in storage while maintaining the maximum flavor when cured correctly.
Storing Sweet Potatoes Raw And Uncooked
Root vegetables used to be stored in a root cellar, but those days have gone by the wayside. Store your raw sweet potatoes in a room temperature location, between 50°F and 60°F. They need to be kept away from moisture, heat, and light. Why? If they're exposed to moisture and light, they'll think they've been planted outside and will start to sprout! A good storage location might be a cool kitchen cupboard that is not directed against any strong heat sources or a dark place like the pantry. Most people keep a crate for potatoes down in their basement. When stored properly, sweet potatoes will have a long shelf life of up to a month and perhaps longer.
Tip: Resist the temptation to wash your sweet potatoes before storing them! This will dramatically decrease their storage life and accelerate rot. Brush off visible dirt with a vegetable brush if you'd like, but otherwise, keep the sweet potatoes as they are and just wash them prior to cooking them.
Onions and sweet potatoes have similar storage considerations, but keep them separate! Onions emit a lot of moisture and will cause potatoes to spoil faster. They don't need to be kept in separate cupboards or anything - just keep them in separate crates or on separate shelves.
How To Store Sweet Potatoes In The Freezer
We don't recommend storing fresh sweet potatoes in the freezer - they'll wind up mushy, watery, and stringy once thawed out. But if you need to store sweet potatoes for more than the month that they'll last in a pantry, freezing them is the way to go! They will last in the freezer for up to 12 months. You just need to cook them first, using one of these methods.
- Sliced - Cut your sweet potato into thin slices, or dice them into cubes if you prefer, and then boil them until they are tender but firm. This usually takes 10 to 15 minutes. Let the cooked and sliced sweet potatoes cool, and then freeze them in plastic freezer bags with all the air pressed out. You can use a vacuum sealing system for this. Then place it in the freezer and freeze sweet potatoes until you are ready to use them.
- Mashed - Cook your potatoes by either boiling or baking, and then mash them using a potato masher. Note that we are mashing the potatoes but not actually making mashed sweet potatoes. We're not adding any dairy yet! Add a bit of lemon juice instead to keep them from browning and slight discoloration, then freeze them in plastic freezer bags.
- Whole - Rub olive oil and sea salt into the skin of the sweet potatoes, then wrap them in foil and bake them in a 425° oven for about an hour. After they've cooled and with the foil still on, put them in plastic freezer bags and place them in the freezer.
Store Sweet Potatoes FAQ
How Do I Know When My Sweet Potatoes Have Gone Bad?
Squeeze the sweet potato. Fresh potatoes will be firm. Potatoes that are past their prime and unfit to eat will feel mushy. You'll also see black or brown spots, and there will be an unpleasant odor. Obviously, if it's moldy or wet, it's no longer fresh, and you should toss it out immediately. If you see that your sweet potato has started sprouting, notice the firmness of the potato itself. If it is still firm, you can cut away the sprouts and eat the potato without an issue.
Can't I Just Use The Refrigerator To Store Sweet Potatoes?
While you can store sweet potatoes in the refrigerator, those temperatures are actually too cool for optimal storage. Temperatures of 4o°F or lower will change the starches in the sweet potatoes. They'll have a hard center and an unpleasant taste.
The one exception to this is if you've already peeled sweet potato and need to save it for later. You can wrap it tightly or store it in an airtight container and put it in the fridge - but you'll need to use it within a couple of days. If you've sliced a sweet potato but left the skin on, feel free to toss it back in your cool, dry, dark storage place. You might want to cut away the exposed side when you go to use the rest of it, but it will store just as well as the whole sweet potatoes.
How To Cure Sweet Potato
Curing sweet potatoes is easy, but it does take time. The first step is to allow the roots to dry and hold them for about ten days at 80-85F and high humidity at about 85%. If this sounds hard to achieve, place your sweet potato in a plastic bag. Tie the bag closed and poke a few holes in them. Then place the bag close to your sunniest and warmest window. This will create a greenhouse effect and give what your sweet potatoes need to cure.
Tip: If it gets chilly or too drafty near your window, place a towel or blanket over to keep them warm.
The second step is to open the plastic bag and remove any sweet potatoes that are soft. At this point, you can cook your sweet potatoes or continue with step two to get more flavor developed and store even longer.
Step two is a six-week period of storage in a dark and cool location. Roll up each sweet potato in a sheet of newspaper and stack it in a cardboard box. Place the filled-up box in a dark and cool location like a basement or pantry, where the temperature is about 55-60 degrees. Store the sweet potatoes for six weeks. Once the curing completes, you can cook them!