Sweet potatoes typically have a very long shelf life. Even when they’re stored unprotected at room temperature, they will easily last for a few weeks.
Regardless, it’s a good idea to learn how to store sweet potatoes if you haven’t already. Stored properly, each haul of fresh sweet potatoes will maintain its quality for up to 3 months.
Here’s everything you need to know.
How to Select the Best Sweet Potatoes for Storage
It’s pretty easy to distinguish good sweet potatoes from bad ones. The outer skin of the spud should be smooth and have uniform coloring throughout. Depending on the type of sweet potato, the color can range from yellow or orange to deep purple. It’s recommended that you pick spuds with deeper, purplish colors since they are richer in antioxidants.
Texture-wise, the spud should be firm, not soft and spongy.
As for size, generally, you will want to pick small to medium-sized sweet potatoes. These have better flavors and are often described as creamy and sweet. Meanwhile, larger ones are regarded as starchier.
If you think you can finish off your sweet potatoes in the span of two or three weeks, choose smaller ones. However, if you’re going to store sweet potatoes long-term, choose larger ones. The reason is pretty simple; larger sweet potatoes offer more consumable flesh.
Don’t sweat about size too much, however. You can pick whichever size you like best. Sweet potatoes of all sizes will last for the same amount of time when stored properly.
Why You Should Cure Your Sweet Potatoes
Before you put your sweet potatoes into storage, an important step that must be performed is curing. By curing your sweet potatoes, the spuds will develop a sweeter, more pronounced taste. and, more importantly, develop a secondary skin layer. This will protect the sweet potatoes from further damage and mold.
Curing can take up to 14 days, but you can begin to use (or store) your sweet potatoes at the 7-day mark.
To cure, simply place your sweet potatoes in a breathable basket. Then, place the basket somewhere with a temperature range between 75°F to 80°F. The relative humidity should be between 90% to 95%.
The Best Ways to Store Sweet Potatoes
For the best possible quality, store your sweet potatoes at room temperature. Simply place your sweet potatoes in a breathable basket and leave it somewhere cool with plenty of ventilation. Stored in this manner, your spuds will easily last for three weeks to a month.
The storage temperature for sweet potatoes is around 55°F to 65°F (lower than its curing temperature). Optimal humidity should also be high at between 90% to 95%. The best storage spots with these temperature and humidity levels are places like the basement, the cellar, or the garage.
Although it is possible to store sweet potatoes in the fridge, it’s not recommended. Fridge-storing sweet potatoes typically results in quite bad quality. The cold temperature of the fridge can harden the spud and ruin its taste.
For ultra-long storage, you can resort to the freezer. Note that raw sweet potatoes do not freeze very well. Instead, you will need to cook them first. Once frozen, sweet potatoes can last for up to a year.
How to Store Sweet Potatoes
Before storing sweet potatoes, an important thing to keep in mind is that you should never wash the spuds. Moisture is the enemy in this situation, as it can speed up the spoilage process. You should only wash sweet potatoes before you use them, not before storage.
1. At Room Temperature
After curing for a minimum of 7 days, remove the sweet potatoes from their curing spot. Wrap up each spud in a layer of newspaper. The paper will protect the sweet potatoes during storage while allowing them to ‘breathe’ enough that they won’t be ‘suffocated’.
Put the wrapped-up spuds in a basket, a burlap sack, or a cardboard box. Do not use an airtight container.
At this stage, there’s a bizarre technique that you can use to extend the sweet potatoes’ shelf lives. That is to store the sweet potatoes alongside an apple. The apple will produce a colorless, scentless, and harmless gas called ethylene. This gas can prevent the sweet potatoes from budding.
Place the container of sweet potatoes (plus an apple) somewhere cool with a high humidity. Remember, the ideal temperature is between 55°F and 65°F, while humidity should be between 90% to 95%.
2. In the Freezer
Like we mentioned earlier, raw sweet potatoes don’t freeze well. So, if you want to freeze them, you have to cook them first.
Begin by rinsing each spud under cold running water and then scrubbing the outer skin with a vegetable brush. Once clean, peel them with either a vegetable peeler or a small paring knife.
Boil a pot of water over high heat. Once the water starts to boil, put in your peeled sweet potatoes. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
Fish out the cooked sweet potatoes and transfer to a bowl. Proceed to either cut or mash up the spuds. You cannot freeze sweet potatoes whole.
To prevent discoloration, add a dash of lemon juice to the mix. About a tablespoon will do the trick. Try to avoid adding too much. If you do, you will change the flavor of the sweet potatoes.
Transfer the sweet potatoes into an airtight container. Then, place the container in the freezer overnight.
Check on the sweet potatoes the morning after to see if they have frozen nicely. Label the container with the name and date for easy tracking.
Put the container back into the freezer for long-term storage. The contents should remain in good shape for up to 12 months.
When it comes down to it, learning how to store sweet potatoes isn’t difficult. The only issue is time, taking at least a week for a sweet potato to be cured and ready for long-term storage. Nonetheless, if you like this delicious tuber, it’s time well spent!
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.