In this article, we will answer if germinated sweet potatoes are safe to eat, what toxins it might contain, how to store sweet potatoes to prevent sprouting, and what recipes are best to make with sweet potatoes.
Can you eat sweet potatoes after they’ve sprouted?
Yes, sweet potato sprouts are absolutely safe to eat. If sweet potatoes are a regular part of your diet, you must have come across potatoes sprouting in the storage. These sprouts are not just buds but entire stem plants. The first thing that comes to your mind is whether you should throw it out or eat it up.
In the case of sweet potatoes, it is safe to eat the germinated part. But this might not be the same case with regular potatoes and other edible vegetables of the Solanaceae family that produce toxins like glycoalkaloids and solanine.
How to buy the best sweet potatoes?
- A fresh sweet potato should have a firm texture with fuller flesh.
- Sweet potato should have smooth skin with no discoloration or wrinkles.
- Fresh sweet potato should have a bright skin color. The color varies with each variety and could be purple, orange white, brown, etc.
How to store sweet potatoes to prevent sprouting?
Follow the following storage techniques to avoid germinating sweet potatoes in storage.
- Keep the sweet potatoes in a cool dark place. Temperatures between 12-18 degrees Celsius are safe for storage. Refrigeration of sweet potatoes is not recommended because the humid environment favors the germination of the eyes.
- If you are going to harvest the sweet potatoes from your kitchen garden, use a garden fork to dig 4-6 inches below the soil to harvest the root.
- Sweet potato is a storage root and is highly vulnerable to cuts and bruises while digging. So it is important to cure your sweet potatoes for 7-14 days or even longer.
- After curing, clean your potatoes with a cloth or paper towel, cover them with a plastic sheet or a paper bag and store them inside a cart box.
- Do not wash your sweet potatoes before storage because moisture allows mold to grow and cause spoilage.
Freezing sweet potatoes
In order to freeze store sweet potatoes without compromising on their quality, follow the steps given below:
- Wash with cold water and peel the skin using a vegetable peeler.
- In a pot, add water and submerge your peeled sweet potatoes in it. Bring it to a boil and cook for 1t least 20 minutes.
- Slice your boiled potatoes or mash them up. Sprinkle some citrus juice like lime or lemon and toss.
- Place the potatoes in a freezer bag to avoid freeze injury. Squeeze out the air. Label with date and toss it in the freezer.
What is the science behind the sprouting of potatoes?
Sprouting occurs when the vegetable is kept in a humid environment with sufficiently warm temperatures. During germination, the stem arises from the eyes and grows into a plant with leaves by using up the nutrients like starch, minerals, and vitamins in the sweet potato.
What is curing?
Curing is a process that helps prolong the storage life of vegetables especially tubers which are vulnerable to cuts and bruises. Curing is done under specific conditions for different vegetables. While suitable for some, this process is not adopted for other root vegetables like carrots, onions or radish, etc.
Sweet vegetables are cured at temperatures between 24-27 degrees celsius and 90-95% humidity levels. Keep in a crate box preferably in the basement or wherever the conditions are maintained.
Curing helps the vegetables heal the bruises they suffered from the harvest by developing an extra layer of skin over the damaged areas. Consequently, it increases the storage life of vegetables.
The shelf-life of sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes can stay fresh in the pantry for 3-5 weeks and can retain their freshness for 2-3 months at refrigeration temperatures. They can last even longer in the freezer. All these time periods are approximate for when the vegetable is stored correctly.
Health benefits of sweet potatoes
- Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of antioxidants providing about 65% of the daily value of ascorbic acid.
- Sweet potatoes contain a decent amount of dietary fiber and aid in digestion and promote the growth of healthy gut microbes.
- Providing about 769% of the daily value of Vitamin A, sweet potatoes promote good eyesight.
- Boost immune health, improve cognitive functions, and might have anti-cancerous properties.
In this article, we answered if germinated sweet potatoes are safe to eat, what toxins it might contain, how to store sweet potatoes to prevent sprouting, and what recipes are best to make with sweet potatoes.