Sweet potatoes are popular for their healthier nutritional value compared to that of a white potato, and their overall sweet taste as well. Sweet potatoes are also great for their cooking versatility. For these reasons, many look for ways to extend that longevity through storage. How do you store raw cut sweet potatoes?
The best way to store raw cut sweet potatoes is in a cool, dark, dry place. You should refrain from refrigerating them as a temperature that is too cold and even too hot can ruin them. In a cool, dry storage space, raw cut sweet potatoes can last up to two months.
Maintaining a temperature between room-temperature and cool is key to properly store sweet potatoes – as well as maintaining their taste and appearance throughout the whole process.
- Too cold of a temperature can cause raw sweet potatoes to become hard on the inside and alter their taste.
- A hot temperature might cause them to become pithy or sprout.
So let’s talk about how to store raw-cut sweet potatoes – the right way!
Selecting the Right Sweet Potatoes
Believe it or not, there is actually a science to choosing the right fruit or vegetable. That’s right – those people taking their sweet time in the produce section who spend forever trying to decide which apple to buy aren’t (totally) crazy after all. Well . . . not entirely crazy, anyway! Selecting the right sweet potato can be beneficial in more ways than one might think.
Prime selection isn’t always solely based on appearance, but also on color, texture, and overall firmness, too. If you plan on cutting and storing sweet potatoes raw, you’ll want to select those with a tight, smooth texture, skin and all, and one that’s free of readily-visible bruises or blemishes.
Oh, and this is the perfect opportunity to mention that sweet potatoes and yams aren’t the same tubers – no matter what the store signage says. Yams are often mistaken for sweet potatoes due to their deep orange color and close resemblance. In fact, yams and sweet potatoes are two entirely different types of vegetables.
Yams: edible tubers found worldwide with 200+ common names.
The real yams you hear about in other countries (like Africa, where the vast majority of the varieties originate) are monocots, which more similar to lilies, grasses, and the yucca plant.
Real yams have a hard, bumpy texture to their skin – and can vary in size from 5 to 55 pounds each! They can look more like a coconut or tree bark, though some varieties are smoother. Yams usually need to be heated to be peeled – or to get to the softer meat inside. And rather than a sweet taste like sweet potatoes, real yams have more of a starchy flavor similar to white potatoes.
Sweet Potatoes: a root vegetable that sometimes gets called a “yam” in America.
So while we might call the orange, small tubers we get from the grocery stores or our gardens “yams,” we don’t mean the same kind of yams as what we just talked about. Instead, we mean yams that are actually sweet potatoes.
In America, most yams are actually sweet potatoes. Back in the 1930s, some enterprising Louisiana farmers decided to call them “yams” to distinguish them from the other sweet potatoes being produced by other states. So American yams are just sweet potatoes – with better marketing campaigns than the other sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes can come in a variety of colors, each with their own flavors such as purple, orange, and white. American yams are typically the orange sweet potatoes – at least they are in my area!
You can choose any color sweet potato you’d like to store – as long as they’re firm, bright in color, plum, and free of blemishes. Over time, you’ll know you’ve chosen the right ones. It just takes some practice – I promise!
And in case you’re not into throwing out the only-slightly-blemished-bad-ish sweet potatoes, know that you don’t have to throw them out. You can use them. After all, you can always just get rid of the blemished portions when you process or cut them.
Cutting and Storing Raw Cut Sweet Potatoes
Storing raw cut sweet potatoes is a great idea for when you’re left with a portion or two after preparing a meal or simply wish to save them for future use. Cutting them ahead of time before storage can also save you time on your next meal-prepping adventure or quick weeknight dinner.
Whether you’re cutting and storing them for a short-term or long-term period, it’s highly critical to store them correctly to ensure that they will be fresh and edible the next time you need to use them.
Now, the way you cut them up is completely up to you and doesn’t affect storage. You can slice, dice, cube, and whatever else you’d like to the sweet potatoes before storing them. But don’t cut your yams just yet – first we need to wash the sweet potatoes – and our hands.
Skipping the scrubbing and washing portion of this process is something you definitely do not want to skip. Sweet potatoes grow in the ground and on top of that, they’ve been handled by several pairs of hands before they finally reach yours. Prior to cutting them, firmly scrub them with either your hands, a soft sponge, or a vegetable cleaning brush.
Now, if you grew your own sweet potatoes and you don’t want to wash them, that’s your call. Personally, I don’t want to eat dirt (or someone else’s germs) or dull my knife on surprise pebbles – so I’m going to wash my tubers no matter where I got them.
After scrubbing them, wash them off with lukewarm water to get rid of any remaining dirt or residue and dry them. You’ll want to get rid of any excess moisture to prevent rotting during storage. Once this is done, you can begin cutting them however way you wish to.
There is more than one way to store raw cut sweet potatoes, but the best way is unwrapped in a cool, dry, dark place that has plenty of ventilation to keep them from becoming moist and sprouting. This is the hands-down best long-term storage option.
The other ways of storing raw cut sweet potatoes are as follows. And we’ll include the best way so that in case you’re scanning this article, you don’t miss it because it’s buried in the previous paragraph.
- Unwrapped in a cool, dry, dark place with adequate ventilation
- Freezing and then storing them
- Soaking them in cold water for short-term storage
- Freeze drying them for longest-term storage
All methods of storage come with their pros and cons, but rest assured, they are all suitable methods for storing raw cut sweet potatoes.
Storage Option #1: Unrefrigerated, Cool, Dry Place
This by far is the most recommended method for storing raw cut sweet potatoes both long and short-term. With this storage method, raw cut sweet potatoes can last anywhere between a week to up to 2 months.
The storage temperature should be between 55 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This is considered cool to room temperature. The area should also be dark and dry, and the sweet potatoes should be left uncovered. Thus, a room temperature pantry is, in fact, not a bad choice for the optimal storage of raw sweet potatoes. Or if you have a cold storage room that hangs out in the same recommended temperature range, that would work, too.
In these conditions, sweet potatoes can last anywhere between two to four weeks long. In cooler temperatures, that time can be extended to the previously identified two months. It’s also important to know that in this storage condition, you should refrain from placing the raw cut sweet potatoes near other vegetables – especially if they’re uncovered.
Placing them to close to other vegetables can cause them to start ripening.
Storage Option #2: The Freezer
Freezing is a common method of storage and preservation for many things and in this case, raw cut sweet potatoes. Your sweet potatoes will freeze better if they are cooked rather than raw, but freezing them is still useful for keeping them fresh. With freezing any type of vegetable, however, blanching is usually recommended.
Here’s what you need to know about blanching vegetables – the quick and short version.
While you wash, cut, and peel the sweet potatoes, boil enough water to fully cover all of the sweet potatoes. Removing the skin, by the way, is optional -but it’s recommended that you do so to prevent any bacteria on the skin of the potato from transferring onto the actual sweet potato itself.
Once the water comes to a boil and you’re done processing your yams, fully submerge the raw cut sweet potatoes into the water and allow them to boil for about two to three minutes. You’ll want to stay within this set amount of time to prevent the raw sweet potatoes from cooking.
Once they’ve boiled long enough to be properly blanched, quickly drain the water from the pot – or drain the sweet potatoes in a colander. After all of the water has been drained from them, immediately transfer the sweet potatoes either directly onto a bowl of ice or into ice water. You’ve got to cool them off ASAP so they don’t keep cooking. Allow them to cool off for an additional three to five minutes, and then remove them from the ice to dry.
You can simply dry them with a paper towel or let them sit out long enough to air dry. Once the raw cut sweet potatoes have fully dried, place them in resealable freezer bags or any similar type of airtight container. You can choose to portion out the sweet potatoes into meal-sized portions – or store them all in the same bag or container.
After you’ve placed them in a suitable freezer friendly bag or container, be sure to remove any excess air by squeezing it out or using a vacuum sealer.
Rather than simply throwing raw sweet potatoes in the freezer after cutting them, the blanching process is helpful in many ways, as it prevents them from becoming too squishy after thawing.
Frozen raw sweet potatoes can last anywhere from six months up to a year in a deep freezer, but I would consider that pushing the limits! Eat it sooner than later.
Storage Option #3: In Refrigerated Cold Water
Although there’s been an emphasis on avoiding the fridge as a place for storing raw cut sweet potatoes, it is possible to successfully store them in the fridge- albeit for a shorter period of time. Storing raw cut sweet potatoes in the fridge doesn’t preserve them as long as the previously mentioned methods, but it’s a great way to save time in your dinner prep.
When it comes to cut sweet potatoes, they probably can last even a week or so in the fridge if stored properly.Skrzypiec, 2020
After you’ve washed the sweet potatoes, it’s optional in this case to leave the skin on or remove it. Because this is more or less a short-term method of storage, it doesn’t really matter. And the same goes for how you cut them as well. To start this storage process, get a bowl large enough to hold all of the raw cut sweet potatoes.
Completely cover all pieces of the raw sweet potatoes with cold water and stir the pieces to make sure they’re all covered in water. You can add ice to the water to keep it even cooler in the fridge if you want to, though it’s not required. After this step, you can place the bowl uncovered into the fridge.
After cutting the potatoes transfer them into an airtight container filled with water and put into the veggie drawer in your fridge. The veggies should be fine there for a few days, but it’s best to use them within 24 hours.Skrzypiec, 2020
With this storage method, the raw cut sweet potatoes can last between 24 hours and up to a few days – but no more than that.
Storage Option #4: Freeze-Dried Sweet Potatoes
Your last option gives you the longest possible time to store your sweet potatoes – but it does require that you have a freeze dryer.
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If you don’t have one and are in the market for one, I have and totally recommend the Harvest Right freeze dryer – I’ve got the medium-sized version. Click here to read my article all about their pricing (and if they’re worth it), read this post. Or if you’d rather read my article about 77 foods you can freeze dry (and 17 you can’t), that’s awesome, too.
You can freeze-dry raw-cut sweet potatoes or cooked ones. In either case, they’ll turn out a lot like chips – and can be reconstituted fairly easily. If I want to eat them like chips, I prefer to freeze-dry them raw cut but flavored.
If I want to cook with them, then I’ll freeze dry my yams both raw and cooked. Then, when I’m running behind on meals, I can reconstitute cooked yams for faster dinner – or I can reconstitute the raw ones if I have enough time to cook them.
Once you’ve freeze-dried your sweet potatoes, test them for moisture and then seal them in a Mylar bag (with an oxygen absorber) for up to 25 years.
How Long Should Raw Sweet Potatoes Last?
Worried about just how long your stored raw cut sweet potatoes will last? The answer varies, depending on how you stored them and what quality the sweet potatoes are – and a lot of other factors.
Here are those other factors that will impact how long your sweet potatoes last in storage.
- The amount of sweet potatoes
- The temperature they are stored at
- Where they are stored
- How they are stored
- The condition of the sweet potato prior to storage
I would highly recommend storing raw cut sweet potatoes according to how long you’d like to keep them or more importantly, how long you’d like them to last.
|How Long You Need to Store Sweet Potatoes||Where to Store Them|
|a few days||in the fridge, cut and submerged in water|
|up to a few weeks||in a cool, dry place (like the pantry or cold storage)|
|a few months up to a year||in the freezer|
|years||freeze-dry them and then seal them in a mylar bag with an oxygen absorber|
While normally, I would recommend against storing whole raw potatoes in a refrigerator, it’s fine in this case because the raw sweet potatoes are cut and not whole. Raw cut sweet potatoes can last between 24 hours to a week in a cold refrigerator and submerged in water of course.
I wouldn’t let raw cut sweet potatoes sit in a fridge for more than a week, and they should ideally be consumed within 24 hours for the best results. Those stored at room temperature or cooler in a dry, cold, dark place such as a pantry can last between a week to two months.
Remember the whole emphasis on buying the prettiest sweet potatoes you could possibly find? Well, that minor detail can affect how long those sweet potatoes last in storage.
As you can see, there is no one answer for how long raw cut sweet potatoes should last, but rather multiple answers depending on the factors listed.
If the idea of storing food has you worried at all, I highly recommend you take a food handler’s safety class. Just look up your state’s courses – and take one of those. They can be a great way to help you learn food storage basics as recommended by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Or check out the FDA’s website with food storing basics.
Taking Raw Cut Sweet Potatoes Out of Storage
Taking raw cut sweet potatoes out of storage doesn’t require as much preparation as it does to store them thankfully! When you are ready to use them again, you’ll want to make sure they’ve maintained their freshness and flavor while stowed away. The only method that requires a bit of brainpower is the freezer method of storage.
If you plan on using the raw cut sweet potatoes you froze, you’ll need to allow about two to three hours for them to thaw out before you can use them. Instead of directly placing the froze sweet potatoes on the counter, you should first place them in the fridge. It’s safer that way – per the scientists and the FDA.
This will allow the sweet potatoes to slowly thaw in a temperature that’s not extremely different from that of a freezer. Moving the sweet potatoes from freezing temperature to a warmer temperature too quickly can bacteria to start growing on them.
As an alternative to the fridge defrosting method, you can also slowly defrost the sweet potatoes using the defrost setting on your microwave. This is much faster than waiting hours for them to defrost. As with anything stored in the freezer too long, there’s a slight chance of some pieces of sweet potato getting freezer burnt during storage.
If this happens, it’s not a bad idea to throw these pieces out and salvage the remaining good ones, or you can use the freezer burnt ones if you prefer not to waste food. The flavor and texture may just be different than you expected.
Once defrosted, the sweet potatoes should be used within 24 hours. You should cook all of the raw cut sweet potatoes after they’ve defrosted. They won’t be any good afterward and you should not try to refreeze them – at least according to the official recommendations.
If your raw cut sweet potatoes have been stored in the refrigerator for a short period of time, you’ll want to not waste any time before cooking them. As the water they’ve been stored in begins to warm, the sweet potatoes will slowly start to turn brown as a result.
Furthermore, if you notice that the raw cut sweet potatoes appear slimy, soft, or brown, then you should throw them out and start a new batch of raw cut sweet potatoes. Chances are they were in the water for too long – or the water was not cold enough. In any case, slimy, soft, or brown is usually a sign that they have gone bad. Otherwise, if they appear unharmed, you can still use them.
Additional Tip for Backyard Homesteaders and Gardeners!
Another additional tip for selecting the best sweet potatoes is to choose those that are newly harvested and still have the roots attached. These tend to be a better choice because of their freshness and the plumper they are, the longer they’re expected to store and have the best results.
Alternatively, if you’re harvesting your own sweet potatoes and plan to store them raw and cut, you can follow the same tip by digging deep enough, about 4 to 6 inches, to pull up all of the roots with the sweet potato.
With newly harvested sweet potatoes, it’s recommended that you allow them to cure for one to two weeks in a dry, dark place that’s between cool and room temperature. The minimum amount of time it takes for sweet potatoes to cure is 7 weeks, but you may leave them to cure longer if preferred.
Curing allows the skin of the sweet potato to thicken. Once they’ve finished curing, you can proceed with the process of washing, cutting, peeling (optional in some cases), and storing the raw sweet potatoes.
- Commissioner, Office of the. “Are You Storing Food Safely?” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/are-you-storing-food-safely.
- Mattison, Lindsay D. “10 Mistakes You Might Be Making with Sweet Potatoes.” Taste of Home, www.tasteofhome.com/collection/mistakes-you-might-be-making-with-sweet-potatoes/.
- Skrzypiec, Marcin. “Do Sweet Potatoes Go Bad?” Does It Go Bad?, 1 Feb. 2020, www.doesitgobad.com/do-sweet-potatoes-go-bad/.
- “Sweet Potato.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 26 May 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_potato.
- “Yam (Vegetable).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 26 May 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yam_(vegetable).