Nobody in their right mind wants to smell or eat a rotten sweet potato. Yuck. And Pee-U! So we’re sharing how to tell if a sweet potato is bad or still good.
That is our mission here today. To learn when a sweet potato spoils and should not get eaten.
We’ll also look at how long it takes a sweet potato to turn, what you can do with spoilt sweet potatoes, and some nifty storage tips to make your sweet potatoes stay good as long as possible.
Let’s jump straight into the action!
- How to Tell If a Sweet Potato Is Bad
- Final Thoughts About Determining If Sweet Potatoes Are Bad
How to Tell If a Sweet Potato Is Bad
Everyone knows how nutritious and delicious sweet potatoes are. My family eats them at least a couple of times every month, certainly not just at Thanksgiving, but then too!
Sweet potatoes have a long shelf life compared to many other foods. But they can spoil and become unfit for consumption if you don’t use them within the proper time frame.
So, you’re wondering how to tell if a sweet potato spoils.
Good news. It’s pretty easy!
Look for these four primary telltale signs.
- Typically fuzzy, white, black, or green mold
- A funky smell that cries, “Don’t eat me!”
- A soft or mushy texture
- Dark skin or spots
If you notice these signs on your sweet potatoes, it’s probably best not to eat them. Sweet potatoes should be firm, smell like earth, if anything, and not grow fuzzy mold!
Are Old Sweet Potatoes Safe to Eat?
Who in the heck doesn’t like sweet potato fries? I sure do! All crispy outside with a creamy texture within. Mmmmm.
However, if a sweet potato has black spots, brown spots, other dark spots, soft spots, or a mushy texture, you shouldn’t eat it.
Plus, it might not be safe to eat starchy root vegetables like sweet potatoes that you’ve had stored for a good while. And please, get rid of them if you notice the presence of mold!
Medical News Today reports that ripened sweet potatoes are excellent sources of beneficial dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients, like carotenoids and antioxidants.
However, if a sweet potato passes its optimal ripeness and begins to spoil, it may no longer be safe for human consumption. That’s because a rotten sweet potato may develop potentially harmful contagions, like fuzzy mold, that can make people sick.
So, if you doubt whether one of these nutritious root vegetables is good or bad, it’s probably best to find a different use for it besides eating it. We’ll review some things to do with sweet potatoes that have gone south in just a minute.
But first, consider these sweet potato insights derived from years of root-crop gardening and learn how to tell if a sweet potato is bad!
- How to Propagate Plant Cuttings In Potatoes, Honey, and Cinnamon
- Can You Eat Potato Leaves? Tip: We Don’t Recommend It! Here’s Why!
- Indeterminate Potatoes vs. Determinate Potatoes – Growing Tips, Facts, and More!
- Sweet Potato Companion Plants – Good and Bad Companions
- How to Start a Vegetable Garden From Scratch In Your Backyard – Step-by-Step Guide!
How Long Before a Sweet Potato Goes Bad?
I’ve never met a sweet potato gardener who didn’t stress about how long their harvest lasts. How long does it take before a sweet potato goes bad? What is the accepted sweet potato shelf life?
Well, it turns out that the answer depends on several different factors, including the following.
- How ripe the sweet potato was when you harvested or purchased it
- The environmental conditions where you store your sweet potatoes
- The method you use for storing your sweet potatoes
- Whether or not you cured your sweet potato before storing it (curing is so critical!)
The riper a sweet potato is when you either harvest or buy it, the less shelf life it will have before it begins to turn.
The only way you can control this is if you’re growing your own because then, you determine the harvest time of the raw potatoes. If you buy your sweet potatoes, you will have no control over their maturity.
Sweet potatoes can last for several months if it gets stored properly. Otherwise, signs of mold may develop, and the texture might get off.
Light and heat will cause root vegetables like sweet potatoes (and regular potatoes) to rot and produce sprouts. Nobody wants that.
So, you should always store your sweet potatoes in a dark, cool place, like a root cellar or another type of dry pantry. That’s why we have root cellars!
However, if you don’t have a root cellar, consider storing your sweet potatoes in a cabinet, closet, or pantry – anywhere you can block out the light and keep it cool is ideal!
Below, we’ll look at several effective ways to store sweet potatoes. That way, they last as long as possible.
But first, consider the following.
Can You Still Eat Sweet Raw Potatoes That Have Sprouted?
Exposure to heat, light, and air can cause all sweet potato varieties to begin sprouting.
Is it safe to eat this starchy root crop with sprouts coming out of it? How can we tell if a sweet potato is bad when it has sprouts?
According to Healthline, it might be, depending on whether it has:
- Started growing mold
- Begun to decay
- A strong odor
- Brown skin
- Bad spots
Those are not good signs, and you should not eat any sweet potato (or other types of potatoes) that displays those characteristics or any other weird growths. Nobody enjoys food poisoning!
However, if the sweet potato feels firm, doesn’t stink, and shows no signs of bacterial, fungal, or mold growth, and if there are no signs of insectile or parasitic infiltration? Then you’re probably safe to cut the sprouts off, properly cook that sweet spud and serve it alongside some butter and sour cream.
(Or, go for something more savory. Sweet potato skins are good with some brown sugar & kosher salt!)
How Do We Store Sweet Potatoes So They Don’t Go Bad?
Storing sweet potatoes is like storing russet potatoes, white potatoes, or any other type of potato. You keep them in your pantry or another location that stays dark and cool most of the time.
However, there are some things that you can do to ensure that you maximize the time it takes for your sweet potatoes to start to spoil, including the following.
- Inspect your sweet potatoes periodically. Look for sprouts, withering, mold, bacteria, fungal growth, softness, or stickiness. If you find potatoes like that, cull them and get them away from your healthy and edible potatoes. Nobody relishes eating sweet spuds with dark spots or soft spots!
- You can help keep moisture in your sweet taters by rinsing them in cold water. Then wrap them in damp paper towels and place them inside a perforated plastic storage bag, like a Ziploc. Then, you can put that storage bag in your refrigerator. Sweet potatoes stored in this manner can last several weeks and still be perfectly edible.
- You can also extend the storage time of your raw potatoes by cooking and then refrigerating them. Refrigerating should keep them healthy and edible for up to five days. (We’ve eaten them after a week. But the flavor and texture will be inferior by then.)
Finally, you can store your sweet potatoes for up to six months by cutting them into pieces and freezing them. Pack them in freezer bags or any airtight container. Then store them in the freezer for the best shelf life possible.
Helpful Tip: Make sure you put a label on your freezer-safe container with the date on it so that you know when it might be time to discard them. Using a thick magic marker usually works fine. (Or use a label maker with a big font so you can easily read the label!)
Is There Anything We Can Do Once Sweet Potatoes Have Gone Bad?
Unfortunately, sometimes, even the best sweet potato lies forgotten for too long and falls to decay. It’s heart-crushing to see your harvest go to waste – a rotting sweet potato you neglected to enjoy.
You’ll have to forego the deliciousness of crispy sweet potato chips, salty sweet potato peels, and other lip-smacking sweet potato recipes.
But you have to move on, difficult as it may be.
No food poisoning for us, thanks!
So, what can we do with sweet potatoes that go bad?
Is there a positive way to use them to help the planet instead of just sending them to the dump or landfill?
Yes! There is!
Consider these suggestions.
- Add them to your compost pile
- Throw them into the woods and let nature handle it
- Cut away any good parts and feed them to farm animals
Of course, sometimes, you might run into a sweet potato that has gone South so far that there’s no practical use for it at all anymore. In this case, it’s probably best to discard it in an eco-friendly way.
Final Thoughts About Determining If Sweet Potatoes Are Bad
OK – we did it! We learned how tell if a sweet potato is bad, spoiled, or still safe and viable enough to eat without making us sick. Like most things, it comes down to common sense techniques, like looking for mold growth or noticing that the sweet potato has an unpleasant odor like, well, you know.
Thank you for reading along! And I hope that the information has been valuable. It was a good time for us. Happy Sweet Potatoing!
(Yes. I made that up!)