You can make many simple but delectable dishes using sweet potatoes, so it’s wise to always have a good supply of sweet potatoes on hand. However, appropriate storage and planning are essential to prevent waste.
Fresh sweet potatoes usually last 2 to 3 weeks at room temperature and up to a month when stored in a cool, dry, dark place, like the pantry. It’s not advisable to refrigerate or freeze raw sweet potatoes. Cooked sweet potatoes last 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator and 10 to 12 months in the freezer.
To avoid unnecessary waste and disappointment, learn how to store fresh and cooked sweet potatoes and determine whether they have gone bad.
- When Do Fresh Sweet Potatoes Go Bad?
- When Do Cooked Sweet Potatoes Go Bad?
- Can Fresh Sweet Potatoes Be Refrigerated Or Frozen?
- Why Do Sweet Potatoes Go Bad?
- How To Make Sweet Potatoes Last Longer?
- How To Tell If Sweet Potatoes Are Bad?
When Do Fresh Sweet Potatoes Go Bad?
Fresh, whole sweet potatoes will generally stay fresh and safe to consume for about 2 to 3 weeks when kept on the counter at room temperature.
They can have an extended shelf life of up to a month when stored in a cool, dark, and dry environment, such as the pantry or basement.
Raw, sliced sweet potatoes can be stored in water and refrigerated for 1 to 2 days.
When Do Cooked Sweet Potatoes Go Bad?
Cooked sweet potatoes will last for a maximum of 2 hours at room temperature and for about 2 to 5 days when refrigerated in an airtight container.
For best quality, cooked sweet potatoes can be kept frozen for 10 to 12 months in a freezer-friendly container.
In a dish containing other ingredients, sweet potatoes will last for as long as the quickest-expiring ingredient.
Can Fresh Sweet Potatoes Be Refrigerated Or Frozen?
It’s strongly advised not to refrigerate raw, whole sweet potatoes, as they will be affected by the cold and moisture.
As a result, the sweet potatoes will have a hard center and an unpleasant taste.
Fresh sweet potatoes don’t freeze well since ice crystals form inside the cell walls, causing discoloration, a slimy texture, and a hard center.
If you wish to increase the lifespan of your sweet potatoes without affecting their quality, cook them before freezing.
Why Do Sweet Potatoes Go Bad?
Sweet potatoes have a fairly high moisture content (think of their creamy texture) which promotes food spoilage.
Since microorganisms such as bacteria, mold, and yeast require water to thrive, sweet potatoes are prone to degradation due to microbial growth.
A natural aging process known as enzymatic browning also occurs, leading to discoloration and spoilage.
Another key factor that contributes to spoiled sweet potatoes is the storage conditions.
Exposure to heat, humidity, extreme cold, light, and moisture will accelerate sprouting and decay.
Sweet potatoes that are bruised or damaged tend to spoil faster because it allows harmful microorganisms to enter easily.
How To Make Sweet Potatoes Last Longer?
Extend the shelf life of sweet potatoes even further by following these tried and trusted methods.
How To Store Fresh Sweet Potatoes?
- Firstly, ensure that you buy sweet potatoes that are as fresh as possible. They should be smooth, firm, evenly colored, and without any damage or bruising. A deeper color indicates a higher level of antioxidants.
- Store whole, fresh sweet potatoes in a cool, dry, dark area such as the pantry or basement. This environment is ideal since the sweet potatoes won’t be exposed to sunlight, humidity, or moisture, which can accelerate spoilage.
- Ensure sweet potatoes are well ventilated by keeping them in a loosely covered bag or basket.
- Submerge raw, sliced sweet potatoes in cold water and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or until ready to use.
How To Store Cooked Sweet Potatoes?
- You should cool cooked sweet potatoes before storing them in an airtight container. Keep refrigerated for 2 to 5 days.
- Before freezing cooked sweet potatoes, allow them to completely cool, then sprinkle them with lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Divide into manageable portions before transferring them into airtight containers or freezer bags. For maximum quality, consume within 10 to 12 months.
- You can defrost the sweet potatoes in the microwave or overnight in the refrigerator.
How To Tell If Sweet Potatoes Are Bad?
Despite your diligence and best efforts, there will be times when you will need to throw out some not-so-sweet potatoes that didn’t make it to your plate.
Fluctuating temperatures, improper storage and handling, an excess supply, or forgotten produce in the back of the pantry can easily occur.
Spoiled sweet potatoes may contain bacteria and harmful aflatoxins produced by the presence of fungi.
These can lead to food poisoning and severe side effects if consumed.
The best way to determine if sweet potatoes are bad is to put your senses to good use.
Signs That A Sweet Potato Has Gone Bad
- Observing the skin is a quick way to spot a bad sweet potato.
- Do you notice any black or brown areas? Remove these spots and cook the sweet potato as soon as possible.
- The typically smooth skin will shrivel and lose its original color due to aging and a lack of moisture.
- Check for the presence of mold or black rot, which are highly toxic if consumed.
- A sweet potato nearing its expiration date will exhibit sprouting, strings, or unusual growths through the skin. However, it may still be edible. Simply peel away the affected area, examine for any further indication of spoilage, and cook immediately.
- Smell: Spoiled sweet potatoes may emit an unpleasant odor often caused by bacteria or mold growth.
- Texture: A bad sweet potato will feel soft, wet, or mushy. Has the skin started to separate from the flesh?
- Taste: Your last but almost immediate tell-tale sign of food spoilage! If the sweet potato has a strong, sour, or unpleasant flavor, stop eating and discard it immediately.
To avoid risks associated with food spoilage, always practice good hygiene and food safety.
Eat your foods before their shelf life has expired. Better safe than sorry – so if in doubt, throw it out!