Sweet potatoes are a tasty and nutritious vegetable that can be prepared in many different ways. However, properly storing uncooked, cut up sweet potatoes is important to maintain freshness and prevent spoilage or food waste. Here are some tips on the best ways to store uncooked, cut up sweet potatoes.
Should You Refrigerate Cut Sweet Potatoes?
Unlike regular white potatoes, sweet potatoes should not be refrigerated raw. The starch in sweet potatoes will convert to sugar when chilled, changing the texture and taste of the vegetable. This can make cooked sweet potatoes grainy or mushy.
Refrigeration also increases the risk of raw sweet potatoes developing a hard center or unpleasant flavors. For best quality and taste, store uncooked sweet potatoes at room temperature.
How Long Do Cut Sweet Potatoes Last at Room Temperature?
When stored at cool room temperature, cut raw sweet potatoes will last 3-5 days. You can extend the shelf life by a few more days by taking these steps:
- Use a clean, sharp knife to cut sweet potatoes. This creates clean edges that resist spoilage.
- Rinse cut potatoes under cool water to remove excess starch. Pat very dry with paper towels.
- Place potatoes in a single layer on a plate or in a container. Avoid stacking them.
- Store in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. Ideal temperature is 60-70°F.
How to Tell If Cut Sweet Potatoes Are Bad
Check uncooked sweet potatoes daily for signs of spoilage:
- Soft or shriveled texture – Toss potatoes that become overly soft or shriveled.
- Mold growth – Discard any potatoes that develop mold.
- Unpleasant odor – An “off” or sour smell means sweet potatoes have spoiled.
- Slimy surface – Slime on cut surfaces signals bacterial growth. Do not eat slimy potatoes.
If properly stored, cut sweet potatoes can be cooked within 5 days for best flavor, color and texture.
What Is the Best Way to Store Uncooked Sweet Potatoes Long Term?
For long term storage, whole, unpeeled sweet potatoes keep significantly longer than cut potatoes. Follow these guidelines for optimal shelf life up to 2-3 months:
- Choose firm, blemish-free sweet potatoes.
- Avoid washing prior to storage, as excess moisture promotes spoilage.
- Place whole sweet potatoes in a cool, well-ventilated area. A basement or cellar works well.
- Ideal storage temperature is 55-60°F with 60-70% humidity.
- Check periodically and remove any potatoes that are moldy or softened.
With proper storage conditions, whole sweet potatoes will keep for up to 12 weeks. Once cut, they should be used within a week.
What’s the Best Way to Freeze Cut Sweet Potatoes?
Freezing is a great option for storing cut sweet potatoes long term. Follow these steps for best quality frozen sweet potatoes:
- Wash and peel sweet potatoes, then cut into 1/2 inch cubes or slices.
- Blanch pieces for 4-5 minutes in boiling water. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop cooking.
- Pat dry thoroughly with paper towels to remove excess moisture.
- Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Freeze until solid, about 2 hours.
- Transfer frozen sweet potatoes to airtight freezer bags or containers. Press out excess air.
- Freeze for up to 10-12 months.
Blanching before freezing deactivates enzymes that cause loss of flavor and color during freezing. Properly frozen sweet potatoes retain their taste and nutrition when thawed and cooked later.
Can You Freeze Cooked Sweet Potatoes?
It is possible to freeze cooked sweet potatoes, but the texture tends to become mushy when thawed. For best results:
- Cook sweet potatoes until just tender, not fully soft. Let cool completely.
- Mash flesh thoroughly or cut into chunks. Season if desired.
- Portion into freezer bags, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Squeeze out excess air and seal.
- Flatten bags to freeze quickly. Frozen mashed or pureed potatoes may last up to 1 year. Chunks will keep 6-8 months.
- Thaw overnight in fridge before reheating to serve.
Cooked and mashed sweet potatoes also freeze well in recipes like sweet potato casseroles. Assemble the dish, but do not bake. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and foil. Freeze, then bake directly from frozen later.
Can You Freeze Raw Sweet Potatoes Whole?
Freezing raw, whole sweet potatoes is not recommended. The dense flesh will take too long to freeze completely, resulting in mushy, waterlogged potatoes once thawed. It also makes the sweet potatoes much harder to peel.
For best results, peel, cut and blanch sweet potato pieces before freezing. Whole, raw sweet potatoes will keep for several weeks when stored properly in a cool basement or cellar.
What Are Good Ways to Use Frozen Sweet Potatoes?
Frozen sweet potatoes retain their bright color and make a quick, easy side dish. Some ways to enjoy frozen sweet potatoes include:
- Roasted – Toss frozen cubes with oil. Roast at 400°F for 20-25 minutes until browned and tender.
- Mashed – Thaw and heat with butter, spices and milk or cream for fluffy mashed sweet potatoes.
- Soups – Add frozen chunks or puree to soups like sweet potato chili.
- Casseroles – Use frozen mashed sweet potatoes in sweet potato casserole recipes.
- Fries – Cook frozen fries in oil until crisp. Season as desired.
Thawed and drained frozen sweet potatoes can be used in most recipes calling for fresh sweet potatoes.
What Is the Best Way to Thaw Frozen Sweet Potatoes?
For food safety, always thaw frozen sweet potatoes in the refrigerator overnight, not at room temperature. Microwaving partially thaws them too, but can lead to uneven cooking.
Once thawed, roasted or mashed sweet potatoes freeze well for 2-3 months. For longer storage, keep frozen and thaw smaller portions as needed.
Refreeze thawed raw sweet potato pieces only if they still appear firm, dry and without mold. Do not refreeze previously cooked sweet potatoes.
Can You Store Cut Sweet Potatoes in Water?
Storing cut sweet potatoes in water is not recommended. Immersed in water, cut sweet potato surfaces quickly become waterlogged and begin deteriorating through oxidation and microbial growth.
The excess moisture also leaches water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C from the flesh. For best results, dry cut surfaces thoroughly before refrigerating in an airtight container.
What’s the Best Way to Cook Cut Sweet Potatoes?
Cut sweet potatoes can be prepared in both moist and dry cooking methods. Popular cooking techniques include:
- Roasting – Toss cut cubes or wedges in oil. Roast at 425°F until tender and caramelized, about 20-30 minutes.
- Steaming – Add cut sweet potatoes to a steamer basket. Steam over boiling water for 15 minutes until fork tender.
- Sauteing – Heat oil in a pan. Cook cut sweet potatoes for 6-8 minutes until browned and cooked through.
- Braising – Simmer cut sweet potatoes in broth or sauce until very tender, 25-30 minutes.
- Microwaving – Microwave cut sweet potatoes with a little water in a covered dish for 4-6 minutes.
Test for doneness by piercing with a fork. Cut sweet potatoes are done when very soft and fork-tender in the center.
How Do You Make Cut Sweet Potatoes Crispy?
Achieving crispy sweet potato cubes or fries takes two key steps:
- Dry thoroughly – Pat cut raw sweet potatoes very dry before cooking. Excess moisture inhibits browning.
- Toss in cornstarch – Coat the sweet potato chunks or fries lightly in cornstarch before baking. This helps create a crispy exterior.
Bake at 425°F on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 25-35 minutes, flipping once. The potatoes should brown and become crispy on the outside while tender inside.
What Are Some Tasty Ways to Use Cooked Sweet Potatoes?
Beyond side dishes, cooked sweet potatoes can be used creatively in both sweet and savory recipes:
- Sweet potato toast – Top whole wheat toast with mashed sweet potato, cinnamon and almond butter
- Tacos – Dice and pan fry sweet potatoes. Serve in tacos with black beans, salsa and avocado
- Soup – Puree roasted sweet potatoes into vegetable or lentil soups
- Pasta – Toss cubes of roasted sweet potato with pasta, spinach and parmesan
- Pancakes – Mix mashed sweet potato into whole grain pancake batter
- Cookies – Blend cooked sweet potato into the batter for soft baked cookies
With their natural sweetness, cooked sweet potatoes pair well with both savory and sweet ingredients.
Are Sweet Potato Skins Edible?
The skins of sweet potatoes are entirely edible and contain beneficial fiber and nutrients. However, some people find the texture of the skins unpleasant in certain cooking methods.
Here are some tips for working with sweet potato skins:
- When roasting wedges or cubes, leave the skin on for nutrition and flavor. The skins soften and caramelize.
- Try peeling sweet potatoes if using in soups or purees, where skins may give an undesirable grainy texture.
- For mashed sweet potatoes, you can leave skins on for nutrition or peel prior to cooking for smoother results.
- Sauteeing or braising in liquid helps soften sweet potato skins to make them less noticeable on the palate.
While edible, sweet potato skins can also be removed before cooking if desired. Simply peel with a vegetable peeler or paring knife prior to cutting.
Cut, uncooked sweet potatoes can be stored successfully for up to 1 week when kept at cool room temperature and handled properly to prevent spoilage. For longer storage, whole sweet potatoes keep significantly longer than cut. Freezing is also an excellent way to store cut sweet potatoes long term without loss of quality or nutrition.
With the proper storage methods, you can enjoy fresh, delicious sweet potatoes year-round. Follow these guidelines for storing cut sweet potatoes to reduce waste and make the most of this tasty, versatile vegetable.