How to Spot a Bad Sweet Potato: Tips & Tricks

Sweet potatoes are a delicious and versatile food that can be used in a variety of dishes. They are packed with nutrients and are a great source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. However, like any other food, sweet potatoes can go bad if not handled properly. While it may be difficult for some people to tell when a sweet potato has gone bad, with a little bit of knowledge and some tips and tricks, you can learn how to spot a bad sweet potato and avoid any potential health risks.

How to Choose the Right Sweet Potato

The first step in avoiding bad sweet potatoes is to choose the right ones. Here are some tips to help you select the best sweet potatoes:

Look for Firmness

When picking out sweet potatoes, look for ones that are firm and free of bruises, cracks, or soft spots. If a sweet potato is soft to the touch or has any visible damage, it is likely already going bad.

Avoid Sprouts

If you see sprouts emerging from the sweet potato, it is best to avoid it. While sprouts are not necessarily dangerous to eat, they indicate that the sweet potato is aging and past its prime.

Check Color and Texture

Good sweet potatoes should have a smooth, even texture and a consistent color throughout. If the sweet potato has any discoloration or is marbled with white, it may be starting to rot.

Smell the Sweet Potato

If the sweet potato has an unpleasant smell or odor, it is a sign that it has gone bad. Trust your nose and avoid any sweet potato that smells off.

How to Store Your Sweet Potatoes

Proper storage is crucial when it comes to keeping sweet potatoes fresh and safe to eat. Here are some tips to help you store your sweet potatoes:

Keep Sweet Potatoes Dry

Moisture is the enemy when it comes to storing sweet potatoes. Make sure your sweet potatoes are completely dry before storing them, and avoid storing them in a damp environment.

Avoid Extreme Temperatures

Keep sweet potatoes away from extreme temperatures. They should be stored in a cool, dry, and dark place, away from direct sunlight or heat sources like stoves or ovens. Storing sweet potatoes in a refrigerator is not recommended as the cold temperature can cause the starches in the sweet potato to convert to sugar, affecting the taste and texture of the vegetable.

Don’t Wash Sweet Potatoes Before Storage

You should avoid washing sweet potatoes before storing them as moisture can lead to decay. If you must wash them, make sure they are completely dry before storing them.

Use Breathable Containers

To prevent moisture buildup and spoilage, store sweet potatoes in breathable containers like burlap bags or paper bags. Avoid storing sweet potatoes in plastic bags as they can trap moisture and cause the potatoes to rot faster.

Signs of a Bad Sweet Potato

Despite your best efforts, sweet potatoes can still go bad. To avoid eating spoiled sweet potatoes, here are some signs to look out for:

Softness or Squishiness

If the sweet potato feels soft or squishy to the touch, it is probably past its prime and should be discarded.


If the sweet potato has any gray or black spots or is discolored in any way, it is likely rotten and should be thrown out.

Mold or Fungus

Any mold or fungus growing on the sweet potato is a clear indication that it is not safe to eat.

Unpleasant Smell

If the sweet potato has any off or unpleasant odors, it is past its prime and should be discarded.

What to Do with Bad Sweet Potatoes

If you have bad sweet potatoes, don’t throw them in the trash. Instead, try composting them. Sweet potatoes make excellent additions to compost, as they are rich in nutrients and can help enrich the soil in your garden.


By following the tips and tricks outlined in this article, you can learn how to spot a bad sweet potato and keep this delicious vegetable fresh and safe to eat. Remember to choose firm, unblemished sweet potatoes, store them in a cool, dry place, and look out for any signs of spoilage. With a little bit of care and attention, you can enjoy sweet potatoes at their best.

  • How long do sweet potatoes last?
  • Sweet potatoes can last several weeks if stored properly in a cool, dry, and dark place.

  • Can you eat sweet potatoes that have sprouted?
  • While it is safe to eat sweet potatoes with sprouts, it is best to avoid them. The sprouts can cause the sweet potato to taste bitter and may contain high levels of a toxic compound called solanine.

  • What are the health benefits of sweet potatoes?
  • Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium, and beta-carotene. They are also low in calories and can help promote healthy digestion and cholesterol levels.

  • Can sweet potatoes give you food poisoning?
  • If sweet potatoes are not handled or cooked properly, they can harbor harmful bacteria and cause food poisoning. It is important to store and handle sweet potatoes safely to avoid any potential health risks.



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