Like all tubers, we expect our sweet potatoes to be hardy, which is why it’s particularly puzzling when we pull out a shriveled or sprouting yam from the refrigerator. Well, as it turns out, we’ve been doing it wrong all along: Sweet potatoes should not be stored in the fridge. So what are you supposed to do with them? As luck would have it, the best method for handling those orange tubers you hauled home from the store is also the simplest. Here’s how to store sweet potatoes so you never have to see the sun set too soon on a sackful of salty-sweet starch again.
How to Store Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes like spending time in cool, dark, dry places so it’s not unreasonable to assume that the fridge is fair game. That would be true if not for a couple of niggling distinctions.
First, the fridge is not a consistently dry environment. Fun fact: The humidity of your refrigerator fluctuates significantly depending on how often you open it, and the more you peek inside the more humid it becomes. The second issue is fridges are cold—not cool—and sweet potatoes thrive in more moderate temperatures. In other words, you can't just haphazardly toss your tubers in the fridge and call it a day.
So what kind of environment checks all the boxes? A basement, garage or cellar are all ideal places to store sweet potatoes. But don’t despair if your home has none of the above. Sweet potatoes can also survive in pantries and kitchen cabinets. If you go that route, just pick a cabinet or place in your pantry that doesn’t get any direct sunlight and stow your sweet potatoes as far back as possible where it will be extra dark; also bear in mind that bottom shelves will be cooler, and therefore better. One last thing: Don't store your sweet potatoes near onions, bananas or avocados, since this may cause them to ripen more quickly than preferred. Follow these rules and your sweet potatoes will stay firm and fresh for two weeks (which gives you plenty of time to go to town on ‘em).
How to Freeze Sweet Potatoes
If you read this storage guide too late in the game, you may have a whole lot of sweet potatoes on your hands and nowhere near two weeks to make the most of them. In that case, your best bet is to cook and freeze your sweet potatoes before they go south.
1. Wash, peel and then dice the potatoes into one-inch cubes.
2. Once the potatoes are prepped, cook them in a pot of salted, boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes or until they’re just slightly tender.
3. Strain the potatoes from the boiling water and spread them out in a single layer on a sheet pan. Let the cubed, cooked potatoes rest at room temperature until they have cooled.
4. Transfer the sweet potatoes into plastic storage bags and use a vacuum sealing system or straw to remove excess air from each bag.
5. When your sweet potatoes are cooked, cooled and bagged, store them in the back of the freezer where they will stay fresh for up to a full year. Easy peasy.