Food storage basics: How to keep sweet potatoes fresh (plus storage tips)
09/25/2021 / By Joanne Washburn / Comments
Food storage basics: How to keep sweet potatoes fresh (plus storage tips)

Sweet potatoes are typically recognized by their copper-colored skin and bright orange flesh. But the hundreds of sweet potato varieties grown worldwide can come in several colors, including white, yellow and purple.

True to their name, sweet potatoes have a naturally sweet flavor, which can be further enhanced by roasting or sauteeing. But despite their name, sweet potatoes aren’t actually related to the spuds we call potatoes. Those are edible tubers of the nightshade family, while sweet potatoes come from the morning glory family.

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Read on to learn more about sweet potatoes and how to keep them fresh in storage.

What’s so special about sweet potatoes?

You might only eat sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving, but this root vegetable is loaded with nutrients that make it worth eating all year long. For starters, sweet potatoes are an excellent source of beta-carotene. This compound, which belongs to a class of phytonutrients called carotenoids, is responsible for the vibrant copper-colored skin of sweet potatoes.

Once consumed, beta-carotene is transformed in the body into vitamin A. This vitamin helps your heart, lungs, kidneys and other organs work properly. It’s also important for good vision and healthy immune function. As an antioxidant, vitamin A also works to protect cells and DNA from damage caused by reactive free radicals.

Sweet potatoes also boast high levels of vitamin C. Together, vitamins A and C work to reduce inflammation, which has been linked to the development of heart disease, cancer and other chronic conditions. And although sweet potatoes can spike blood sugar levels in high amounts, their high fiber content helps to slow the absorption of sugar in the gut.

Additionally, sweet potatoes may help support weight loss despite being high in calories. That is because sweet potatoes contain resistant starch, a filling fiber-like substance that your body doesn’t digest and absorb. Studies have shown that resistant starch can lead to an increase in fat burning after meals. It also helps support your body’s ability to create satiety-inducing hormones.

How to store sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes store quite well. However, their shelf life depends on how you store them.

For instance, sweet potatoes can last for about three to five weeks at room temperature in the pantry. They can even last for longer if they’re kept in an open-weave basket or loosely covered bag. Just make sure to keep your basket or bag in a dark and dry place.

On the other hand, raw sweet potatoes will last for two to three months when stored in the refrigerator. Do not put raw peeled sweet potatoes in the refrigerator as doing so can cause the slices can become hard and taste bland. You can also freeze raw sweet potatoes to make them last for up to eight months.

If freezing sweet potatoes, prep them first by blanching and then immersing them in ice water. Doing so prevents the sweet potatoes from becoming mushy or stringy until thawed.

Additionally, you can pickle sweet potatoes in a brine or vinegar solution for two to three weeks to extend their shelf life. Store them in the refrigerator once the pickling process is finished.

Here are more tips on how to properly store sweet potatoes:

  1. Brush or wash off any debris on the sweet potatoes before prepping them for storage.
  2. The best temperature for storing sweet potatoes is 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Place sweet potatoes in paper boxes or cover them with a cloth before placing them in your pantry.
  4. If you have a root cellar, place sweet potatoes in barrels or crates filled with sand to prevent injury.
  5. Regularly check on your sweet potatoes and remove any with signs of mildew. This can quickly affect the whole lot.

Note that you should still use your better judgment when trying to determine whether something is safe to eat. When checking for sweet potatoes that have gone bad, look for signs of mild or severe discoloration. When the sweet potatoes have gone tender or mushy, throw them out.

You should also check the skin for odd growths or the appearance of mold. If you spot any, get rid of them immediately. Throw away sweet potatoes with a foul odor as well.

Sweet potatoes are loaded with nutrients and powerful compounds that make them worth keeping year-round. Follow the tips above to keep your sweet potatoes fresh in storage.

Sources:

GardenerThumb.com

Health.com

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