How to tell if a Sweet Potato is Bad – A Guide
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Ah, sweet potatoes, a favorite fall root vegetable. And come Thanksgiving, sweet potatoes feature in delicious casseroles, are baked and stuffed, mashed or roasted, or become part of hearty salads.
Sweet potatoes are so tasty and versatile that it’s easy to grab a big bag and then find yourself with too many.
Here we’ll discuss how to store them, show you how nutritious they are, and when to throw out ones that have gone bad.
Selecting raw sweet potatoes
Before you buy a sweet potato, inspect the flesh for strange colors (dark spots), holes, and the presence of mold. Avoid mushy sweet potatoes!
Sometimes an otherwise good-looking sweet potato will have mold growth on one or both tips. Reject it because even if the more significant middle part looks good, it will spoil quickly.
A healthy sweet potato should have a uniform color. It may probably have rows of dark, shallow depressions up and down its length, but that’s normal.
Sprouts will grow from some of those depressions if left alone too long. But you can even eat a sweet potato with a few short shoots. Just cut them away.
Select sweet potatoes that are dry, smooth, firm, and heavy in hand.
Signs of spoilage for sweet potatoes have soft, spongy spots. They might have turned dark brown or black. Any mold is suspicious.
Reject sweet potatoes that show signs of shriveling. Having lost moisture, they’re apt to rot.
If a raw sweet potato has a strange smell, it’s risky. Throw it out to the trash! This is undoubtedly true of cooked sweet potatoes, too.
Sweet potatoes and their white liquid
White droplets that appear when you slice sweet potatoes are starchy sap. It’s perfectly safe to eat. No need to wipe or rinse it off unless you want to.
If your sweet potato doesn’t have that white liquid, don’t worry. It’s fine.
Sweet potatoes that turn black when sliced
The starch in sweet potatoes may turn dark when they’re chopped or sliced. This is harmless. The way to treat it is to put the pieces in a bowl of cold water.
Some like to add a squeeze of lemon juice to the cold water to preserve the sweet potato’s good color. Some claim that adding salt to the soaking water does the same; and that the sweet potatoes won’t absorb the salt if used within an hour.
No matter what you add or don’t add to the cold water, the sweet potato pieces will shed more starch when you remove them to cook.
Pat the pieces dry before cooking, or roll them gently in a clean kitchen towel to dry them off. You’ll get crisper fried or roasted sweet potatoes.
Storing sweet potatoes
Too-cold or too-hot storage temperatures cause defects in sweet potatoes. Cold hardens them and makes them less flavorful. Heat causes small holes inside them. To maximize their shelf life, the best temperature for storing sweet potatoes is in a cool, dry place a few degrees below room temperature. Storing sweet potatoes in the fridge is not recommended; sweet potatoes are susceptible to cold temperatures, and this can actually change their flavor and texture. The colder temperature can even change the way sweet potatoes tastes! The starches in the sweet potatoes can convert to sugar, leading to a gritty, overly sweet texture.
In the pantry:
Store raw, whole sweet potatoes in the pantry. They will last 3-5 weeks there. If you have only a few sweet potatoes to care for, keep them out where you can see them, preferably in a dark, cool corner of the kitchen (away from direct sunlight). Be mindful not to store sweet potatoes next to produce that gives off ethylene gas (like bananas or apples) because that can cause the sweet potatoes to go bad faster.
Canned sweet potatoes will last 12 months in the pantry.
In the garage:
Sweet potatoes last about six months stored in other dark, well-ventilated places, such as a cellar, basement, or garage with plenty of air circulation.
It’s always wise to inspect stored produce every few weeks to catch anything spoiled early.
In the freezer:
Raw sweet potatoes aren’t suitable for freezing. If you want to freeze sweet potatoes, you must blanch them first.
Even better, slice and cook them simply in boiling water until tender, then drain and dry them on kitchen towels. Let them cool down completely and store them in freezer bags.
Cooked sweet potatoes freeze very well. Store them in a container that shuts tightly or in a sealable plastic bag. Label the contents before freezing. Frozen, cooked sweet potatoes and foods heavy in sweet potatoes like casseroles last 10-12 months in the freezer.
To thaw out frozen cooked sweet potatoes
Use the microwave to thaw out and reheat the sweet potatoes.
Or thaw them in a non-stick skillet on low heat. Raise the heat slightly to reheat them.
To use in soup, add them frozen to the broth.
Thaw them overnight in the refrigerator.
Care of raw sweet potatoes before storing
Do not rinse fresh, raw sweet potatoes, but rub them gently to remove dirt. Moisture from rinsing them will encourage sprouting and mold. Keep them far from heat and humidity.
Store raw sweet potatoes away from other vegetables. They may cause undesired ripening in other raw foods.
Keep a little space between sweet potatoes when you put them away in storage. Friction, or pressing against each other, will cause bruising and potential spoilage.
Prepping sweet potatoes to cook later
Place cut or sliced sweet potatoes in an airtight container filled with water. Store it in the crisper drawer in the refrigerator. Use within 24 hours or up to 2 days.
Extra-cooked sweet potatoes, or foods with plenty of sweet potatoes like a casserole, can be stored in air-tight containers in the refrigerator. Chill leftovers as soon as possible; don’t leave them lying in the kitchen for long.
If cooking extra sweet potatoes to use a day or two later, store and chill them as soon as they have cooled down from cooking.
Sweet potatoes: health and nutrition
Sweet potatoes fit into almost any way of eating, no matter your diet. They’re so rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals that it’s a pity not to eat them. Not to mention that they’re so tasty!
Note: sweet potatoes have oxalates, which bind calcium and other minerals. People with kidney stones or who are considered at high risk of developing them should eat only moderate amounts of sweet potatoes.
Consult your doctor or nutritionist if this causes you concern.
One good serving of sweet potato will give you all the vitamin A you need for the day. Your bones, skin, and hair will benefit.
Lots of fiber contained in the sweet potato’s peel is another excellent reason to eat sweet potatoes. After eating sweet potatoes, you’ll feel full for a long time, and your blood sugar won’t rise.
One cooked medium sweet potato supplies ¼ of your daily fiber. Just remember to eat the peel too. Your digestion will thank you.
Manganese, essential for healthy bones, and potassium for muscle and brain function, are minerals present in sweet potatoes. Potassium also reduces anxiety and stress.
Beta-carotene, also present in carrots, is a crucial antioxidant present in sweet potatoes. Dribbling a little olive oil over your serving of sweet potatoes is suggested to increase the absorption of beta-carotene.
Sweet potatoes are chock-full of magnesium, another essential mineral. Magnesium supports the absorption of other vitamins and minerals and gifts you with its benefits.
A medium, skin-on sweet potato gives you 130 calories, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, 154% of your daily vitamin A needs, 31% of your vitamin C needs, and 15% of your daily potassium needs.
Studies show that eating moderate amounts of sweet potatoes (and sweet potato leaves) may help to regulate blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes. Purple sweet potatoes are said to be especially beneficial to eye health.
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Wife, Mom of 4 and so much more living in the Sonoran desert. I am passionate about making meals and snacks healthier without sacrificing flavor! I promise you that if you buy healthy foods and make healthy foods, YOUR KIDS WILL EAT HEALTHY FOODS! My motto: Live as naturally as you want to feel.