I believe sweet potatoes are one of the best starches around.
Sweeter than a typical potato, more colorful, can be sweet or savory and can be stored in the pantry for a really long time. Recipes for sweet potatoes are endless, and most are really difficult to mess up even for the beginner.
They are a favorite of mine for when I’m running low on veggies in my fridge. I simply reach for the sweet potatoes and create a meal around this incredible veggie.
But if you don’t know how to store your sweet potatoes, you won’t enjoy cooking with them or even keeping them on hand.
Handy Supplies When Storing Sweet Potatoes
Pantry, Fridge or Freezer?
Let’s jump into how to store your sweet potatoes on an everyday basis. You’ve gone to the store, filled up your basket and now have brought your groceries home. Where do you store your sweet potatoes?
The answer is the same as your normal potatoes: in the pantry. The place to store sweet potatoes is in a cool and dark place. This may be in a fruit cellar, or maybe you live an apartment and it means an empty cupboard (away from any heat source).
Sweet potatoes being stored in the pantry or a cool and dark place will last three to five weeks.
DO NOT store unpeeled sweet potatoes in the fridge because this will actually cause the center of the potato to harden, and they will retain that texture even when it’s cooked.
Just remember cool and dark. Stackable bins are a great way to conserve space and store your sweet potatoes in the pantry.
Another way to store your sweet potatoes in your pantry is in a potato sack. It keeps them in one place and guarantee they stay in a dark environment.
Storing cut sweet potatoes
Storing whole sweet potatoes is pretty straight forward, but what about storing cut sweet potatoes? Perhaps you’ve decided to meal prep for the week and have cut your sweet potatoes into chunks. Once, you’ve cut into those sweet potatoes the pantry is no longer the best option. Store them for up to a week in advance in the fridge by placing the sweet potatoes in a container with a little water. This will ensure they don’t dry out
To freeze pre-cut sweet potatoes, make sure to peel them first. Then, place them in a sealable bag and put them in the freezer making sure all the air has been squeezed out. They will last in the freezer for up to six months. I always suggest marking the date on the plastic bag as well with a marker, so you don’t forget how long they’ve been in there.
Storing cooked sweet potatoes
Now, let’s talk about the options for storing sweet potatoes once they’ve been cooked. If they are in an airtight container, cooked sweet potatoes will last up to seven days in the fridge. This is a great option if you’re doing food prep at the beginning of the week, because you can be sure the sweet potatoes will last all week long. Just make sure your sweet potatoes have cooled before storing them in the fridge to avoid extra moisture locked in your container.
Just like uncooked sweet potatoes, cooked ones you can also be stored in the freezer. Just make sure you have an airtight sealable bag, and they will be good for six months.
(Disclaimer: The potatoes will last longer in the freezer than six months, but this is the optimal amount of time.)
Types of sweet potatoes: is it a yam or a sweet potato?
This is an ongoing question for many: is it a yam or is it a sweet potato and is there really a difference? Here is the somewhat convoluted answer; there is a difference but probably not at your local grocery store. An actual yam is a completely different root plant from a sweet potato. They have a skin that almost looks like bark in that it’s brown and very rough, and the flesh is not sweet but more similar to a normal potato. Not only do they not look similar, but yams are not actually common in the United States but used more in places like West Africa and the Caribbean.
Sweet potatoes on the other hand, have a sweet flesh, but the skin can be various colors depending on where it was grown and the variety of potato. This is where they are confused with yams which have the white colored flesh. Sweet potatoes can be orange, purple or white. When you see the sign at the grocery store for “yams”, it’s most likely a sweet potato!
If you’re still doubting the difference between yams and sweet potatoes, here is my suggestion. Next time you go to the store, buy one of each. Cook them the same and taste them blindfolded. I would wager you’ll discover there is little difference but the sign used at your local grocery store.
When should I eat sweet potatoes?
This may seem like a strange question, but some people choose to eat “seasonally” or by following the growing seasons of fruits and vegetables. One bonus to eating this way is the food is typically more vibrant and flavorful when it is eaten during its actual harvesting season. If you’re interested in eating seasonally, sweet potatoes are typically harvested from October through December. This is probably why sweet potato casserole is a Thanksgiving staple because historically it was the vegetable that was available during that time of year!
Have my sweet potatoes gone bad?
While sweet potatoes can last a long time in the pantry, just like any other vegetable they can go bad. A sweet potato has gone bad and should be thrown if it starts to discolor, smells strange or develops soft and mushy spots. Any of these are a good indication that the sweet potato is no longer edible and should be thrown out.
If a sweet potato has been cut and stored in the fridge, look for indications of mold, if its been dried out or if it begins to smell. Always keep in mind sweet potatoes will last 3-5 weeks in the pantry, a week once cooked in the fridge and up to three months when uncooked and stored in the fridge.
Sweet Potato Recipes
If you’re from the states, when you hear sweet potatoes you most likely think of Thanksgiving and sweet potato casserole. There are few Thanksgiving dishes better than traditional sweet potato casserole, but sweet potatoes can be used for so many other delicious meals and even desserts. I’ve linked a few favorite sweet potato recipes for you to check out.
- Roasted Sweet Potatoes – There are many recipes out there for roasted sweet potatoes, but this one takes it to the next level with seasonings like cumin, paprika and chili powder! It even gives a sweet option with the addition of brown sugar.
- Sweet Potato Hash – Sweet potatoes are a great substitute for your typical russet potato in a morning hash. This one is a tex-mex style hash, but the options are endless. You could even try them as hash browns for your next brunch.
- Sweet Potato Curry – Curry is one of those foods that you can add almost any vegetable to, and it will still be amazing. This recipe combines sweet potatoes, chickpeas and other veggies for an excellent lunch or dinner.
- Sweet Potato Casserole – I had to include this traditional use of sweet potatoes, but this recipe is a slightly healthier take minus the corn syrup and marshmallows your grandma used to add.