Here’s all you need to know about the shelf life and spoilage of sweet potatoes. Learn how long sweet potatoes last, how to store them, and how to tell if one is spoiled.
It’s easy to buy that five-pound bag of sweet potatoes, and then realize that it will take far more than a few meals to go through them all. And, of course, everyone forgets about that bag soon enough.
That prompts questions like “how long do sweet potatoes last?” or “how to tell if sweet potatoes are bad?”.
If that’s why you’re here, you’re in the right place.
Below, we go through storage methods, shelf life, signs of spoilage, and even freezing sweet potatoes. If you are interested in any of these topics, read on.
How Long Do Sweet Potatoes Last?
|Sweet potatoes, whole||1 – 4 weeks|
|Sweet potatoes, cut||3 – 5 days|
|Cooked sweet potatoes||3 – 4 days||1 month+|
Sweet potatoes last about a week on the counter and up to a month in a cool and dry place. After cutting, they keep for 3 to 5 days if you seal them tightly in a plastic bag or airtight container and refrigerate them.
Cooked sweet potatoes keep for 3 to 4 days before they become no longer safe to eat. The same period applies to prepared dishes with sweet potatoes, like casseroles.
That’s the lowdown on the shelf life of sweet potatoes.
Now, let’s talk a bit more about the storage time of whole sweet potatoes.
Whole Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes typically last about a week on the counter and up to a month if stored in a cool and dry place. So if you store yours in the pantry, you should get at least 2 to 3 weeks of good quality.
(Which is comparable to how long potatoes last in similar conditions.)
That said, sweet potatoes can last up to 4 months in storage, or even a bit longer, but you have to provide the right conditions. And those are:
- temperature between 55°-60°F (12.5°-15.5°C)
- 85-90% humidity
As you might imagine, hardly anyone has access to a storage spot that maintains a temperature in the above range. That’s why most of us are limited to the mentioned week or month, depending on the storage spot.
(But if you have an unheated cellar or something of the like, definitely use it to store sweet potatoes!)
Cooked Sweet Potatoes
Cooked sweet potatoes last for 3 to 4 days sealed tightly in the fridge. After you cooked or baked your potatoes, leave them at room temperature to cool, then transfer them to an airtight container or a lidded pot and refrigerate.
Make sure the cooldown period is no longer than two hours, as that’s approximately how long cooked sweet potatoes last unrefrigerated before they become unsafe to eat.
(That period is also known as the 2-hour rule, which you’ve probably heard about.)
The 3 to 4 days period also applies to any dish with cooked potatoes, so any casseroles, sweet potato bakes, and the like also count.
How to Tell if Sweet Potatoes Are Bad?
Main article: How to tell if a sweet potato is bad?
Discard sweet potatoes that:
- Are soft, mushy, or shriveled. Either is a sign of water loss and means the potato has already lost quite a lot of water. And at that point, its quality is probably not good enough to use.
- Are discolored, moldy, or show other visual signs of spoilage. If the surface has some large darkened areas, the sweet potato’s insides will (most likely) also be discolored and spoiled. As usual, you can remove some small brown or black spots and use the rest.
- Are cooked and stored for more than four days. Cooked sweet potatoes stay safe for only about four days, so if yours sit in the fridge for more than that, it’s time for them to go.
If you notice anything wrong with the sweet potato that wasn’t described above, get rid of the veggie anyway. Better safe than sorry.
Here are a couple of photos of spoiled sweet potatoes:
For more info on sweet potato spoilage, check out my article on the topic.
How To Store Sweet Potatoes
You should store fresh raw sweet potatoes in a cool and dark place, preferably in the pantry.
Sweet potatoes don’t do well in either cold or hot temperatures. Cold makes them hard inside and may alter the taste a bit. Hot temperature causes tiny holes inside the sweet potatoes to form. Some people call such potatoes spongy, but the proper term is pithy.
While pithy sweet potatoes are safe to eat, their quality, and therefore taste, is inferior. The sweet spot for storing sweet potatoes is a few degrees below room temperature – between 55° and 60°F (12.5°-15.5°C).
If you want to cut your sweet potatoes beforehand, so they are ready to be cooked once you’re back from work, you can do that.
After cutting the potatoes transfer them into an airtight container filled with water and put them into the veggie drawer in your fridge. The veggies should be fine there for 3 to 4 days, but the sooner you use them the better.
(If you’re going to use the pre-cut sweet potatoes within a day or so, feel free to skip the water.)
After you have cooked the sweet potatoes, you should store them in the refrigerator. Give them some time (like 20 – 30 minutes) to cool off before chucking them into the fridge.
Store them in either shallow airtight containers or freezer bags. The same thing goes for baked sweet potatoes – they have to be refrigerated.
Can You Freeze Sweet Potatoes?
Another storage option for sweet potatoes is freezing.
While you can freeze raw sweet potatoes, you get better results by freezing cooked ones. Plus they are already cooked, so you can defrost and reheat them, and they’re ready to go.
Here’s one of the methods of freezing sweet potatoes:
- Cook, bake or steam sweet potatoes. It’s up to you if you cut them or leave whole.
- Divide the veggies into meal-size portions. It’s much easier to do when they’re cut into strips/fries.
- Let the sweet potatoes cool down to room temperature. 30 – 40 minutes should be enough, less if you’ve cut them.
- Transfer the veggies into freezer bags. Label the bags with name and date if needed.
- Put the bags into the freezer.
While sweet potatoes can be frozen indefinitely, it’s best to eat them within a month due to quality reasons.
When it comes to defrosting and reheating frozen sweet potatoes, there are a few options:
- Microwave. You can use the microwave to both defrost and reheat the potatoes.
- Non-stick pan. Put in on low for a few minutes to defrost and then slightly higher to reheat.
- If you’re using these in a soup, you can throw them in frozen. Add a few minutes of cooking time to account for the frozen veggies.
- Defrost overnight in the fridge and reheat with the rest of the veggies.
Sweet Potatoes Shelf Life and Spoilage Summary
Thank you for reading this short guide on sweet potatoes. Let’s briefly recap what we’ve covered above:
- How long do sweet potatoes last? Sweet potatoes last for one to four weeks, depending on whether you leave them on the counter or store them in a cool and dark place like a pantry. Cut sweet potatoes last for 3 to 5 days, while cooked ones stay safe for 3 to 4 days only.
- How to tell if a sweet potato is bad? Toss sweet potatoes that are soft, shriveled, moldy, or most of the surface is darkened. If only a tiny area is affected, feel free to cut it off and use the rest.