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I dug some sweet potatoes today. Only three plants -- I still have at least 7 or 8 to go! I don't know what's wrong with me, but I just can't seem to get motivated to finish up on them. Who knows? Maybe I'm just tired from the long growing season (digging them is hard work!), maybe I've just got too many other things to do, or maybe I'm just getting lazy. Certainly, if I don't get to it this week, it may be too late ... I need digging inspiration!
Anyway, if you grow sweet potatoes, it's important that you give them a bit of special care after digging in order for them to get as sweet as possible. Here's the low down...
First off, after digging them up, just brush off the dirt, do not wash them.
Then, you need to give them some time. Did you know that sweet potatoes aren't very sweet right after they've been dug? It takes six-eight weeks of curing and storage time until they reach the right sweetness. You know, that syrupy, sugary yumminess that sweet potatoes are named for.
After digging sweet potato roots, they need to be placed in a warm and humid location (80-85 degrees at 80-90% humidity) for about 7- 10 days. This is called 'curing.' Then, after curing, they should be stored at 55-60 degrees for another six weeks.
Then, and only then, will they be sweet and ready to eat.
Really, it's true. I ate a sweet potato from my garden for dinner today. Big mistake! It has only been stored for a few weeks and it definitely wasn't very sweet, nor was it moist. It was rather disappointing actually (but the stick pat of butter I added for moisture was good!)
Once cured and stored though, sweet potatoes can keep quite a long time - long enough to feed you throughout the winter for sure. Some of mine usually make it through to early spring (although I often just use those to start new slips for coming summer because by that time we're often kind of sick of them. I know... Blasphemy!)
Anyway, if you grow sweet potatoes, you need patience.
PATIENCE. PATIENCE. PATIENCE.
Sweet potatoes require a rather long growing time frame, and what often seems like an equally long curing and storing time. Of course, it's not as long, but if you're like me, you want to eat your harvest as soon as possible. Trust me though .. if you allow them to properly cure and store until they've created their magical sugary goodness, you'll be very happy you waited. Oh, that and the whole 'Patience is a virtue' thing too. :-)