How To Store Sweet Potatoes For Winter?
Sweet potatoes are one of the most popular vegetables in our household. They have been part of my diet since I was little and they continue to be a staple food for me today. My husband and children love them too! You may wonder why I would want to preserve these delicious treats when there are so many other options available nowadays. Well, if you’re like me, then you might not have the time or energy to go out and buy fresh produce every day. You could always freeze some of your favorite foods for later use. However, freezing fruits and veggies isn’t necessarily ideal because it takes up space in your refrigerator. If you do decide to freeze them though, you’ll need to keep them frozen until thawing time so they don’t get mushy from being stuck together during storage.
Another problem with freezing is that sometimes the packaging doesn’t protect your goodies from damage while in transit. That’s where sweet potato storage comes into play. These tubers are very easy to peel and store. They won’t spoil even if stored for a year or longer! And since they’re so small, they make great gifts too!
I always have a few bags stored away in my root cellar, and whenever anyone comes over I give them a bag or two.
So, now that I’ve raved about sweet potatoes, let’s get to the how to store cut sweet potatoes part.
The most important thing when storing your tubers for long periods of time is proper preparation and packaging. You don’t want to just throw them in a bag and put them in the root cellar or storage room. You need to clean, peel and dry them first, then package properly. If you don’t dry them out thoroughly, they will rot during storage no matter what you do.
You can dry your sweet potatoes in the sun or with a food dehydrator before storing. Personally, I think the food dehydrator is the better choice because the temperature can be controlled. In addition, you can use it for drying fruits, jerky, and other foods as well. If you decide to use the sun, be sure to rotate the potatoes every few hours so they dry evenly. This will take a few days so be patient.
After drying, you need to package your sweet potatoes. You can buy special bags that are made for storing food, or use large mason jars with airtight seals. I prefer mason jars since I can also use them to can other foods. For larger quantities, five gallon buckets with water proof lids work well also.
Finally, you need to decide where to store your food. I keep my sweet potatoes in my basement root cellar. The temperature stays cool year round and it’s away from sunlight which promotes rotting. You can also store them in your regular basement, garage or even a closet if it doesn’t get too hot. Preferably you want to keep them between 55 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
If the temperature is too hot or cold they will rot. You also want to avoid areas that have large temperature changes between day and night. Unless you have an industrial kitchen appliance, you probably don’t want to store them in your kitchen!
Let’s get started!
First, gather your supplies. You will need a large quantity of sweet potatoes or yams (but yams tend to have dirt in the middle so they aren’t recommended). You also will need a food dehydrator or another method to dry them (sun or electric oven).
You can use plain ol’ sweet potatoes or you can get fancy and grow a specifically for eating variety from the Georgia Sate University catalog. I normally grow the fancy kind since they are much better eating than the ones you buy in the store. This year, however, I didn’t have enough time to grow them from seed so I had to buy them at the grocery store and they were more expensive than normal.
Now, begin to peel and chop your sweet potatoes. I usually chop them in half lengthwise then into 1/2″ to 1″ cubes so they will dry faster.
Load the sweet potatoes into the food dehydrator (you may need to do this in more than one batch). You can also use an oven at 200 degrees, but just make sure you don’t cook them. The goal is to dry them out, not bake them.
Once they are dried, load them into wide mouth mason jars (you can find cheap ones at yard sales) or another container that can seal tightly. I use two pounds of sweet potatoes per jar so if you are using smaller jars you might want to use less. As you fill the jars, make sure there is enough space at the top to allow for sealing the lid.
When all the jars are full, put the lids on and seal tightly. At this point you can store them in a dark cool place (like a root cellar). The potatoes will last for years! Just make sure you don’t open any jars you plan to use within six months of the rest since the lid isn’t sealed tight.
Now, all you need is something to cook with your new potatoes! One of my favorite recipes is for Idaho Home Fries.
Sources & references used in this article:
The sweet potato—Its origin and primitive storage practices by JS Cooley – Economic Botany, 1951 – Springer
Post harvest spoilage of sweetpotato in tropics and control measures by RC Ray, V Ravi – Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 2005 – Taylor & Francis
Sweet-potato storage studies by HC Thompson, JH Beattie – 1922 – books.google.com
The sweet-potato weevil and its control by FH Chittenden – 1919 – books.google.com
Breeding sweet potatoes by FW Martin, A Jones – Plant breeding reviews, 1986 – Wiley Online Library
Harvesting, curing, and storage of sweet potatoes by PE Sumner – 1984 – athenaeum.libs.uga.edu
Origin of the sweet potato and primitive storage practices by JT Rosa – 1921 – University of Missouri, Agricultural …
Storage of sweetpotatoes by JS Cooley – The Scientific Monthly, 1951 – JSTOR
Sweet potato: a review of its past, present, and future role in human nutrition by JM Lutz – 1958 – books.google.com