Can Sweet Potatoes Go Bad? A Quick Guide to Their Shelf Life

Sweet potatoes, a delicious root vegetable, offer versatility in cooking and baking. They can be enjoyed in various dishes, from classic sweet potato casserole to simply baking them with butter and a dash of maple syrup. Roasting sliced sweet potatoes on an aluminum-foil-covered baking sheet is another delightful option.

However, just like other root vegetables, sweet potatoes will eventually go bad. It’s essential to know the proper ways to store or freeze them to extend their shelf life and to recognize the signs of spoilage.

Key Takeaways

  • Sweet potatoes are a flavorful and versatile root vegetable
  • Proper storage and freezing can extend their shelf life
  • Recognizing signs of spoilage is essential for maintaining quality in dishes
How To Tell When Sweet Potatoes Go Bad

Why Do Sweet Potatoes Go Bad?

Sweet potatoes go bad due to their high water content, making them perishable. When you store them in a warm room, it speeds up the rotting process. To prevent this, buy the freshest sweet potatoes possible and keep them away from heat or moisture. Whole and untouched sweet potatoes last longer than peeled or cooked ones, so consider factors like cooking, baking, and reheating when dealing with their shelf life. Also, be aware of ethylene gas, which can further promote spoilage, by keeping them away from other ethylene-producing fruits and vegetables

How To Tell if a Sweet Potato is Bad

To identify a bad sweet potato, keep an eye out for the following signs:

  • Softening or squishiness: This results from the high water content, and as sweet potatoes age, they will become softer.
  • Dark spots or discoloration: Brown and black spots on the skin indicate spoilage.
  • Sprouting: Sprouts on a sweet potato are signs of it being past its prime, and it’s best to avoid eating it to prevent illness.
  • Mold: Mold on the surface is a clear indication of spoilage. If mold is present, do not eat the sweet potato.

Always remember to prioritize your health. If you have any doubts about the freshness of a sweet potato, it’s better to throw it away than risk getting sick. When assessing cooked sweet potatoes, be watchful for molds – discard them immediately if mold is present. Avoid eating old or bad sweet potatoes to prevent food poisoning and other health risks. To choose good sweet potatoes, look for ones without black spots, weird growths, or signs of spoilage. Lastly, enjoy your fresh, delicious, and healthy sweet potatoes!

How to Store Sweet Potatoes

To properly store sweet potatoes and prolong their shelf life, follow these storage tips:

  1. Choose the right location: Store sweet potatoes in a cool, dark place, preferably a pantry. Ensure that sunlight and moisture cannot reach them, as both can cause spoilage more quickly.
  2. Create the right environment: Make sure your pantry is dry and dark to ensure the best storage conditions for your sweet potatoes.
  3. Shelf life: When stored correctly, sweet potatoes can last for a month or two before they begin to go bad.

It’s important to note that storing sweet potatoes in the refrigerator is not recommended. Although they should be kept in a cool area, the fridge is too cold and can lead to hardness and moisture-related issues.

Once you’ve cooked your sweet potatoes, however, any leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator. This is because leaving cooked sweet potatoes at room temperature can cause bacteria buildup, increasing the risk of illness. By storing them properly in the fridge, your cooked sweet potatoes can last for about five days.

Can You Freeze Sweet Potatoes?

Yes, you can absolutely freeze sweet potatoes to prolong their shelf life! Frozen sweet potatoes can be either cooked or uncooked, but cooked ones tend to last longer. To freeze them, simply place the sweet potatoes in a freezer bag or an airtight container.

These frozen sweet potatoes can last in your freezer for up to 12 months. Make sure to thoroughly defrost them before cooking and serving, especially for your kids. Keep in mind that the texture might become slightly mushy after thawing, so they might be better suited for a sweet potato pie rather than roasted sweet potatoes. To get creative with your thawed sweet potatoes, consider trying an instant pot sweet potato recipe as well.


Sweet potatoes offer a variety of health benefits, such as being rich in fiber, iron, vitamins, and minerals. They provide antioxidants, aid in digestion, and help regulate blood sugar levels. Enjoy their versatility while maintaining freshness and safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to identify bad sweet potatoes?

To identify bad sweet potatoes, look for:

  • Soft or mushy spots
  • Mold or mildew growth
  • Unpleasant or sour smell
  • Wrinkled or shriveled skin
  • Presence of insects or worms

What is the shelf life of sweet potatoes?

Sweet potatoes’ shelf life depends on storage conditions:

  • Pantry: 3-5 weeks
  • Refrigerator: 2-3 months
  • Freezer: up to 12 months (cooked and properly stored)

Can discoloration indicate spoilage in a sweet potato?

Yes, discoloration can indicate spoilage. If the flesh turns dark or if there are black or brown spots, it’s a sign the sweet potato is beginning to spoil.

How to store sweet potatoes for freshness?

Follow these tips to store sweet potatoes:

  • Keep them in a cool, dry, and dark place (pantry or cabinet)
  • Avoid storing them in the refrigerator (cold temperature causes spoilage)
  • Don’t store them in plastic bags (trapped moisture can lead to mold)
  • Keep them away from other produce (ethylene gas from other fruits can affect their freshness)

What are the signs of a spoiled sweet potato?

Signs of a spoiled sweet potato include:

  • Soft, mushy, or wet texture
  • Foul or sour smell
  • Mold or mildew on the skin or flesh
  • Discoloration of the skin or flesh

Can sweet potatoes be salvaged if partially bad?

Yes, you can salvage a partially bad sweet potato by:

  1. Cutting off the bad parts with a clean knife
  2. Inspecting the remaining flesh for any signs of spoilage
  3. Cooking and consuming the remaining good part if there’s no foul smell or discoloration
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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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