When it comes to the plethora of different foods out there that you can prepare, you are always going to have to think about many different factors to ensure that the food you prepare is perfect. Of course, you are always going to want to make sure you have all of the equipment necessary to cut, bake, season, and prepare your food. But at the same time, you are going to want to make sure you have the knowledge necessary to keep your food from going bad.
It can generally go without saying that when you are preparing food, you are eventually going to have to think about how you want it to be stored. There are a few rare occasions where you plan on eating the entirety of what you prepared that night, but more often than not, this is not going to be the case. Something that you will quickly learn as you become more experienced in cooking is that there are some foods that require certain kinds of storage depending on its condition.
For example, it is a well-known fact that ground beef tends to spoil much faster than most other cuts of beef. This is because ground beef has a lot more area exposed to the air, where bacteria can find its home in the meat. This concept of a more open surface area means that the food will spoil faster and it is present in a lot of different foods, especially with produce.
Naturally grown produce has evolved over time and with human intervention to have a protective skin on the outside of it. This skin can be as thick and as dramatic as the skin of a pineapple or of a watermelon, or it could be like the skin of the grape and be a thin covering that holds all of the moist fruit inside. As you will come to learn when you get into cooking foods, produce that is cut is always going to spoil faster and will often require different forms of storage.
Take potatoes for example. Potatoes are well known for their relatively thin but hearty skin. This skin keeps dirt out of the “meat” of the potato as it grows underground and it is also a delicacy to many people. This skin is crucial to the potato, as it will keep the softer innards of the potato from going bad when exposed to air.
Typically, you can store potatoes on the counter or in baskets around your kitchen. Potatoes rarely ever need to have any special form of storage, except for one situation. If you end up cutting your potatoes to prepare them for a meal, you are going to want to make sure that you know how to store them.
Now that you have broken the skin of the potatoes and the insides are exposed, you are going to have to take special care when storing them before you cook the potatoes so that you can prevent anything unsavory from happening to the potatoes in question.
The Condition of the Potato Matters
Unfortunately, there is no blanket rule that will cover exactly how you should store your sweet potato after you have cut into it. The amount of time and the method that you can use to store your potatoes is going to depend on two factors. It will depend on whether the potato has been cooked and it will depend on when you plan on cooking the potatoes.
Some ways that you will go about storing the potatoes will mean that it can take several hours before they are ready to be used again, which is something you will have to keep in mind if you are preparing your sweet-potato filled meal on a tight schedule. Some methods of storing potatoes will only last for a little bit of time, meaning that you should only use those methods if you are planning to cook your potatoes in a little bit.
Some methods of storing potatoes will only last you about one day, while other methods can easily last you about a year’s worth of time. There are more than a few ways to store your sweet potatoes. Finding out the best way for you will depend on what exactly you are planning to do with your potatoes.
1 – Putting Potatoes in the Fridge
You can store your cut potatoes in the fridge for a short amount of time. This can be particularly helpful if you are planning on making a dish with the potatoes within a day’s time, but you aren’t quite ready to add the potatoes into the dish yet. For example, if you are planning on adding potatoes to a slow roast, you may want to wait before adding the potatoes so that they do not dissolve while they cook.
With that being said, you will want to be mindful about putting your sweet potatoes in the fridge. Even though they will last slightly longer in the fridge than on the counter after they are cut, you should not keep cut potatoes in the fridge for more than 24 hours. If you end up leaving your sweet potatoes in the fridge for longer than this, the water may warm up enough that the potatoes will start turning brown on the inside.
To properly store your raw but cut sweet potatoes in the fridge, you will first want to find a bowl that is large enough to hold all of the cut potatoes. If you do not have a bowl large enough, you can use multiple bowls, but keep in mind that this will take up a fair amount of extra room in your fridge. The potatoes should not go past the lip of the bowl either.
Next, you will want to make sure that you cover the sweet potatoes with cold water in the bowl. Both filtered and tap water will work well for this. Once all of the water has been poured into the bowl, you should stir the potatoes around slightly just to make sure that the water has touched all sides of the cut sweet potatoes.
If you want to make sure that the water stays as cold as possible, which will help keep the potatoes in the best condition for a longer period of time, you can add some ice to the bowl as well to lower the overall temperature of the water.
Once the water has been added to the dish, you will want to keep the bowl uncovered in the fridge for up to 24 hours. The cold water will help to protect the softer and more delicate “meat” of the sweet potato while you wait to be able to prepare it. However, the closer to the 24-hour mark you get, the higher the chance is that the potatoes will begin turning brown. When they begin to visibly turn brown, that is a sign that your sweet potatoes are becoming soft, which is the precursor to them becoming slimy. When potatoes are slimy, they need to be thrown away.
Likewise, you will need to make sure that you do not leave the bowl on the counter for more than one or two hours. If you leave the bowl on the counter for too long, the cold water will warm up and you will be dealing with rotting potatoes again.
If your sweet potatoes are cooked, you can store them in your fridge for about a week. To make sure that they last as long as possible in the fridge, you will want to make sure that you have put them into an airtight container within one hour after you have cooked them. You can put them in the fridge immediately after being cooked as well, if you want to get as much time as possible out of your potatoes.
2 – Putting Sweet Potatoes in the Freezer
If you want your potatoes to last a little bit longer, you can store them in the freezer. More often than not, foods are going to last far longer in the freezer than they would if you stored them in the fridge or on the counter. With that being said, there are a few steps that you have to take to keep the texture and taste of your sweet potatoes from being altered in the freezer’s harsh environment.
You will want to peel and dice your sweet potatoes as you otherwise would. Make sure that you remove all of the skin from the potatoes before you freeze them, as any bacteria that is on the skin could transfer onto the potato itself during the defrosting process. You can also do this to preserve sweet potatoes that are on the brink of going bad.
Once the potatoes have been peeled, you will want to blanche the sweet potatoes for about two to three minutes. Blanching a vegetable involves boiling the potato for a short amount of time (in this case, two to three minutes) before putting them on ice to rapidly cool them down. You will want to drain the potatoes in a colander before putting them onto ice if you want to avoid a mess. The potatoes should remain in the ice water for another two to three minutes. From here, you can take the potatoes out to dry.
After the potatoes have been blanched, you will want to move them into freezer-safe resealable bags. You can portion them out so that you can take out exactly how much you need at a time, or you can choose to freeze them all at once depending on how many resealable bags you have. While it is not fully necessary, a vacuum sealer will help preserve the freshness of the potatoes while they sit in the freezer.
You can store sweet potatoes in the freezer for approximately six months before they begin showing signs of going bad. When you put them in the freezer, you should avoid putting anything on top of them for the next five to six hours, as you may accidentally mash the potatoes. Sweet potatoes take about five to six hours to fully freeze through.
After the six-month period that sweet potatoes can remain safe, they will begin losing their taste and texture, making them not optimal for eating. When you are ready to consume your sweet potatoes, you will need to thaw them out in the fridge for about two to three hours. Avoid putting the frozen potatoes directly onto the countertop, as this could transfer bacteria onto the potato. The texture of your once-frozen potatoes may be a bit softer than they normally would be, but it will be worth it when you can get your potatoes to last for this long.
If you have already cooked the sweet potatoes, the storage process is going to be a little bit different than storing raw sweet potatoes. Rather than blanching the potatoes before they go into the freezer, you can simply place the cooked sweet potatoes directly into a resealable freezer-safe bag. You can either squeeze the air out of the bag or you can use a vacuum seal to make sure that there is no excess air in the sweet potato bag.
When you are ready to eat your cooked sweet potatoes after freezing them, you will need to remember to defrost them before trying to cook them. It will usually take between two and three hours for sweet potatoes (cooked or not) to fully thaw in the fridge.
Doing this ensures that the potatoes’ texture is not lost or ruined because of a hasty reheating process. Once this time has passed, you will be able to safely put them in the microwave, oven, or on the stovetop to cook and prepare for your next meal.
On average, you can store frozen, cut, and cooked sweet potatoes in the freezer for up to one full year. After that year has passed, you run the risk of having your sweet potatoes be ruined by freezer burn, which will permanently affect the texture and taste of the sweet potato.