How long do sweet potatoes last?
Whether cooked or raw, being aware of the shelf life is the first step in ensuring optimal use of these versatile vegetables. This helps in mitigating wastage, whilst making good use of them.
Just how long can you keep raw sweet potatoes? It depends on the location. Here are 3 places you can keep them, including how long they will last:
How Long do Raw Sweet Potatoes Last? (In The Pantry)
Raw, whole ones keep well in the pantry. A cool, dark airy environment is ideal when storing raw tubers.
In the pantry, raw, whole and unpeeled sweet potatoes keep well for 3 – 5 weeks. This is if you have stored them uncovered.
For a longer shelf life, here is how you should store sweet potatoes:
- Select bruise-free ones.
- Wrap each tuber in old papers or newspapers.
- Store all wrapped potatoes inside a basket, wooden box or crate.
When stored this way, they will keep for 4 – 6 months. However, always monitor and remove spoiled ones.
Can You Store Raw Sweet Potatoes On The Counter?
Sure! Besides the pantry, you may opt to store them on the counter, at room temperature or in the cupboard.
This is ideal if you either live in a cool temperate region or are planning to store for short-term use.
Nonetheless, keep them away from traffic, heat sources and pests. On the counter, at normal room temperature, these raw tubers will last from 2 – 6 weeks.
Shelf Life Of Raw Sweet Potatoes (In The Fridge)
The vegetable crisper drawer works effectively in preserving raw sweet potatoes.
When storing them,
- Sort and separate blemished, bruised ones.
- Wipe off dirt or mud with a clean paper towel. Avoid washing them with water.
- Pack them in perforated brown bags. Alternatively, place them in a loosely covered plastic container. These two methods keep condensation at bay. Condensation hastens spoilage.
When left undisturbed, these raw tubers kept in the fridge will last from 5 weeks to 3 months.
How Long Do Cooked Sweet Potatoes Last? (In The Fridge Or Freezer)
Whereas uncooked ones remain in top shape for long, the opposite is true after they are cooked.
Refrigerate and consume within 3 – 5 days.
Some good news though, cooked sweet potatoes can be preserved in the freezer.
- Mash or slice the potatoes. Avoid storing them whole as they become runny once thawed.
- Pack them in small batches that you can retrieve once.
- Mix with lemon juice to prevent oxidization.
- Store in airtight Ziploc bags and squeeze out excess air before sealing.
Well frozen cooked sweet potatoes remain in good quality for 10 – 12 months.
How Long Do Sweet Potatoes Last Once Cut?
Chopped sweet potatoes are best used within 1 day.
Cutting promotes loss of flavor as well as oxidization. The tubers also become susceptible to contaminants, enhancing rotting.
How to Increase The Shelf Life of Sweet Potatoes
Drying out food items prolongs their shelf life. This is due to extraction of moisture, which exacerbates rotting.
To achieve evenly dehydrated pieces:
- Slice the sweet potatoes into small or thin uniform shapes. Peeling is optional.
- Dehydrate sweet potatoes either through baking or a food dehydrator. Baking is ideal if you are time-strapped and desire quick results. Ensure you set your oven to a high temperature – preferably 400°F (200°C).
- Lay the slices on a single layer to guarantee even drying.
- Allow the dried pieces to completely cool before storage.
- You can opt to add spices and flavorings such as cinnamon, salt, paprika or nutmeg as per your liking.
- Well dried sweet potatoes are brittle and crisp.
- Store the dried pieces in airtight containers or Ziploc bags.
- Freeze or store them in the pantry, away from direct sunlight.
When properly dehydrated, they keep well for 1 year or more in the freezer or pantry.
Canning entails preserving food items in a sweetened syrup of sugar and water.
Canning sweet potatoes is a simple process that can be done at home.
When canning at home, the only necessary items are mason jars or canning jars.
The absence of a pressure canner or canning gadgets in your home should not worry you – you can always improvise using a hot water bath. Stick to a specific canning recipe to ensure optimal results.
- Peel them before chopping into evenly shaped cubes or quarters, depending on the size of tuber.
- Blanch until soft, but not mushy.
- Ensure the mason jars are sterilized and dry before arranging the cubes inside.
- Prepare the syrup by boiling one part water to two parts sugar.
- Pour this hot syrup over the cubes, leaving a head-space as specified on your recipe. The head-space creates room for expansion, thus preventing contents from spilling over or jars from cracking due to pressure.
- Seal tightly and leave the jars at room temperature before storage.
Unopened cans keep well in the pantry for up to 1 year.
Once opened, use within 1 week.
Owing to their soft texture, use them in purees, making bread, cakes, mashed or pie dishes.
What To Look For When Selecting Sweet Potatoes
It is important to have a few tricks up your sleeve when selecting such tubers, regardless of their variety. Here are 3 pointers:
- Firm, unblemished skin – avoid tubers with blemished skin since this promotes faster rotting.
- Medium sized tubers – do not be fooled by enormous tubers. The bigger the size, the less tasty and starchier they are. Smaller sized sweet potatoes are the tastiest.
- Over matured ones tend have a stringy appearance. Avoid them as they are tough.
Now that you know how to select sweet potatoes, which variety do you like most? Are you aware of the different types? If not, here are a few to get you going:
Sweet potatoes are usually white (cream)-fleshed or orange-fleshed. Orange-fleshed varieties owe their color to a component known as beta-carotene.
Sweet potatoes come in many varieties. They include: Centennial, Regal, Nemagold, White Delight, Campeon and Boniato.
How Do You Know When A Sweet Potato Has Gone Bad?
Whereas you may want to enjoy these nutritious and tasty tubers all year long, they are bound to spoil at one point. Here are some tell-tale spoilage signs.
- Discoloration on skin and flesh
An obvious sign of rotten tuber is black, brown or dark patches on the flesh or skin. Discard the entire potato to prevent the rot from spreading onto other good ones.
- Mold growth
Mold is a clear indication of spoilage. Do away with such root tubers immediately. Mold is a major health hazard and allergy trigger.
- Wet, mushy flesh
Once you notice the flesh sinking in its skin and becoming mushy when touched, spoilage is underway. In extreme cases, water will ooze out from the flesh. Discard such tubers.
What Happens If You Eat A Bad Sweet Potato?
Eating rotten food predisposes you to food poisoning. The symptoms can range from mild to fatal. As such, avoid such risks.
Spoiled sweet potato
If Sweet Potatoes Sprout, Are They Bad?
No! Sprouted sweet potatoes are still safe to eat. In fact, you can use the sprouts to grow some more tubers. Simply pluck off the sprouts and plant them.
Sweet potatoes are versatile as well as highly nutritious. Knowing how long such tubers last in whichever state – cooked or raw, guarantees optimal usage and storage.