Nov
10
2013

Curing and Storing Sweet Potatoes

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!

Curing and Storing Sweet Potatoes

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. :-)

Posted in: Vegetables

Join the Conversation!

Myrtle
November 11, 2013

This is one of the hundreds of reasons I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your blog, Caryl. I learn so much from it. For one, I think it is a good thing I am not growing sweet potatoes. Patience is not a skill I possess.

I never knew sweet potatoes had to cure. When you cut into the not-yet-ready one, did it look different inside, like not so ... stringy??

Oh, how I admire your sustainable living. So utterly cool.

Reply

Caryl
November 11, 2013

Hi Myrtle! The sweet potatoes don't really look any different right after they are dug (although allowing them to 'cure' also allows any wounds to heal... I speared a few with the pitchfork when digging them, so those wounds need some time to heal.

After allowing them to cure, it takes some time for the potatoes to sweeten up -- they start to produce enzymes during the weeks after digging that make them taste sweeter.


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