Sweet potato is a root vegetable that has been cultivated and eaten by humans since ancient times.
It is a type of tuberous plant and part of the morning glory, or Convolvulaceae family, that originated in the Andes.
If you are storing it for recipes, you can also store them coated with oil, salt, and spices.
If you’re baking, simply place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
You can also toss them in any sweet potato recipe or use them in salads.
Sweet potatoes can also be frozen to prolong their lifespan.
However, they have to be blanched or cooked before freezing to reduce their high water content.
Sweet potato is used for cooking, baking, and making bread and desserts.
Its edible tuberous root contains high amounts of starch and sugar.
The sweet potato’s color ranges from white to yellow to orange to purple or red.
Sweet potatoes can be cooked or baked with butter or other fats and are often used in savory dishes like soups, stews, salads, casseroles, pies, and bread.
Sweet potatoes are one of the most nutritious foods you can find.
They are versatile, tasty, and have excellent health benefits.
They contain high levels of resistant starch, moving slowly through the digestive system and helping you feel fuller for longer.
They contain a high level of antioxidants which protects cells from damage and inflammation.
They also contain Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C, which help in boosting immune systems, keeping your body in top shape.
How long do sweet potatoes last once peeled?
All fruits and vegetables start to change color after they are cut or peeled because of a process called oxidation.
The oxygen in the surrounding air reacts with the carotenoids and lipids, producing potentially damaging molecules like peroxides and lipid hydroperoxides.
Keep them in cold water in an airtight container or freezer bag to prevent sweet potatoes from oxidizing.
Any exposed area of the sweet potato will start to dry out over time, degrading the value.
While storing cut and peeled sweet potatoes is a great idea to save time on your next meal, they last about four days stored correctly in the refrigerator but ideally should be consumed within 24 hours.
While storing them in the refrigerator allows them to last for up to four days, freezing them is another excellent option to save time on your next meal and have cooked potatoes readily available.
Before freezing, sweet potatoes have to be blanched.
Like other vegetables, the high water content will make them mushy if frozen uncooked and then thawed.
Here are some tips when blanching sweet potatoes:
- Removing the skin is optional. Sweet potato skin is rich in fiber and nutrients, containing about half of the fiber content.
- Place the sweet potatoes into a pot of boiling water, fully submerging them, and boiling for two to three minutes.
- Once they are sufficiently blanched, drain the water from the pot or through a colander.
- Immediately transfer the blanched sweet potatoes into cold or ice water.
- You’ll need to cool them down immediately to prevent them from cooking.
- Cool them off for another three to five minutes, then cut into desired portions for freezing.
- When freezing in storage baggies, try getting most of the air out before sealing each bag, removing the oxygen and slowing down the oxidation process.
Frozen, raw sweet potatoes can last up to a year in a deep freezer, but as always, eating sooner rather than later is recommended.
How do you keep sweet potatoes fresh after cutting?
For short-term storage in the fridge, cut sweet potatoes should always be submerged in cold water, ideally in an airtight container.
Like all vegetables, sweet potatoes will start to oxidize when they are cut, peeled, with the flesh exposed.
Oxidation causes the brownish-tint to appear in most fruits and vegetables once cut but unconsumed.
To slow this oxidation process, place the cut or peeled potatoes immediately in an airtight container filled with cold water.
They will last a few days when stored this way.
Airtight freezer bags can also be used in the place of storage containers.
When using freezer bags, try sealing them with minimal air or use a vacuum sealer.
Avoid mixing the sweet potatoes up with any other food that might contaminate them and spread bacterial growth.
For more extended storage periods, you can freeze sweet potatoes, but only after they have been blanched.
Sweet potatoes frozen uncooked and unblanched will be mushy and are likely to fall to pieces.
Blanch a batch of sweet potatoes by boiling them for about two to three minutes, straining the water, and cooling the potatoes down immediately to prevent overcooking.
Frozen sweet potatoes can last six months to a year in a deep freezer.
Do sweet potatoes need to be refrigerated after cutting?
While sweet potatoes are a versatile, healthy root vegetable, they don’t store remarkably well once they are cut or peeled.
Bacteria can spread to dangerous levels after an hour out of the fridge, doubling every 20 minutes.
In addition, oxygen in the air causes the sweet potatoes to oxidize, turning a brownish-tint and starting to spoil.
When refrigerating sweet potatoes, cut them however you like and submerge them in cold water in an airtight container for proper storage.
Refrigerated sweet potatoes can last four days to a week but ideally should be consumed within 24 hours.
How do you store a cut sweet potato?
Uncooked sweet potatoes can be stored in a refrigerator for up to a week, while frozen ones can last up to a year.
For short-term storage in the fridge, peel and cut the potato and store in an airtight container submerged in icy cold water.
The ice water will stop the potato from oxidizing and turning brown, as well as remove the excess surface starch.
If you notice the sweet potatoes appearing brown, soft, or slimy, they would have been stored too long or with too warm water.
Spoilt potatoes should be discarded immediately.
Food poisoning is not worth the price of a bit of food waste!
For longer-term storage, you can also freeze the sweet potatoes after blanching.
Always blanch sweet potatoes and dry thoroughly before freezing.
Unblanched sweet potatoes will be mushy and break apart when thawed because of the high moisture and starch content.
Blanch the potatoes in boiling water for about two to three minutes before draining the water.
Soak the potatoes immediately in ice-cold water to prevent overcooking, then dry them off with a paper towel and portion them out into freezer bags.
When thawing out sweet potatoes, instead of placing them at room temperature, defrost them by placing them in the refrigerator overnight.
Like most other foods, thawing out foods for long periods might cause bacteria to develop and spread, contaminating your meal.
The FDA recommends not consuming foods left out for more than two hours and one hour if the ambient temperature is above 90 degrees.
The “danger zone” is the temperature above 40 degrees to over 100.
In this zone, bacteria spread to dangerous levels within two hours and can double every 20 minutes.
In a hurry? Most modern microwaves have a defrost setting and are a quick fix to getting your sweet potatoes to thaw out.
Once defrosted, sweet potatoes should be consumed within 24 hours and not refrozen.
Food-borne illnesses spread rapidly, especially at higher ambient temperatures.
Microorganisms like bacteria, mold, and yeast can develop in foods left out in the open and unrefrigerated.
Check out the FDA’s recommendations for food storage basics and food safety, and if ever in doubt, it would be best to discard the food.
Although food waste is an annoying thing to deal with, food poisoning is likely to be a million times worse!