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Curing Sweet Potatoes

Posted by derbyka 10a (St. Pete) (My Page) on
Tue, Jul 3, 12 at 16:24

I am starting to harvest my first sweet potatoes and am wondering how everybody the creates right conditions for curing them. Right now, the fresh ones are completely tasteless (I expected this from my reading on the subject). It is easy to find the 80-90 degrees and high humidity needed for the first stage (I just stuck them in a dark, shady part of the yard wrapped in clean, breathable cloth. The ones that have been in these conditions for 10 days are a little bit sweet (still not nearly as good as the store though). I do not have any idea how to create an area with 60 degrees and high humidity for the second part though. I have read that they can take 6 - 8 weeks to develop full sweetness. What is everybody else's experience and how do you go about it? I have so many nice looking sweet potatoes almost ready to be harvested - I don't want them to go to waste!


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RE: Curing Sweet Potatoes

  • Posted by saldut 9-10 st pete, fl (My Page) on
    Tue, Jul 3, 12 at 17:45

It's such a real thrill to dig those first ones and cook them and eat them... I just leave mine in the ground until I'm ready to dig, and then wash them and cook them up w/some butter and salt, maybe a sprinkle of cinnamon.. I didn't know one had to 'store' them or that they got better over time, they taste just fine to me...sally


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RE: Curing Sweet Potatoes

  • Posted by katkin 9b/10a PSL,Fl (My Page) on
    Tue, Jul 3, 12 at 18:05

Sally, I am with you, I eat them right away too, but I did know you should cure them, I just didn't know how, so I never bothered. When you eat them right after digging the skins are so tender. :o)


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RE: Curing Sweet Potatoes

  • Posted by rednofl 9b Goldenrod Fl hz (My Page) on
    Tue, Jul 3, 12 at 18:42

I put mine in bins with newspaper in my shed for at least 2-3 weeks then I go thru them remove any that have any bad spots to eat first then store them in bins under My aquarium I still have lots left from last season Eat the larger ones first the smaller ones seem to store the best. I have lots of purple ones this year they should be ready to start harvesting soon.


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RE: Curing Sweet Potatoes

I've never heard of curing them either. It's always been eating them straight out of the ground and they taste great. Maybe it's a variety thing.


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RE: Curing Sweet Potatoes

Hmm, other people at the community garden said that theirs are delicious right out of the ground as well. My freshly dug ones have no taste whatsoever - like cardboard. The ones that have "cured" for about 10 days have a slight sweetness to them but still not good enough to merit eating. What time of year are you digging them out? I know that cold temps increase the sweetness supposedly. Mine were grown from slips that I started from sweet potatoes bought at the veggie stand. I cooked some of the same when I bought them and they tasted fine...


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RE: Curing Sweet Potatoes

  • Posted by whgille Oakland FL Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Tue, Jul 3, 12 at 20:28

Hi Derbika

My sweet potatoes are excellent just harvested, in my opinion curing is more for other places where it gets cold, same with winter squash, I like it fresh harvested and later after they stay in storage. I put them in a closet in bins trying to individually wrap them in newspaper.

Just harvested

Photobucket

And I had a harvest party after that and made sweet potato cakes

Photobucket

And last year I made a sweet potato salad for the gardeners that came to the party and it was a favorite.

Some of last years harvest

Photobucket

Made the same day sweet potato latkes

Photobucket

Silvia


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RE: Curing Sweet Potatoes

Could it be a matter of harvesting them too soon?

I planted mine in April and was planning on digging them up around August. Does this seem like a good plan? This is my first time as well.


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RE: Curing Sweet Potatoes

This man is better known for his work with peanuts, but while a bit dated, his take on sweet potatoes is still good advice.

Larry

Here is a link that might be useful: How the Farmer Can Save His Sweet Potatoes


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RE: Curing Sweet Potatoes

What an interesting article, Larry. Gosh, I'm going to have to try some of those recipes.


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RE: Curing Sweet Potatoes

Larry, the recipes do look amazing I have had good success here in my apartment with regular potatoes and onions just keeping them in a well-ventilated, cool, dry place like you guys have mentioned. Here I'm trying to figure out a way to develop some taste in these sweets that right now are not sweet. No one else has experienced tasteless sweet potatoes when out of the ground? Here are a few of the links I have looked at:

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/sweetpotatoes.html

http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/growing-sweet-potatoes-zm0z11zsto.aspx?page=2

http://blog.gardenharvestsupply.com/2008/12/03/you-say-potato-i-say-sweet-potato/


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RE: Curing Sweet Potatoes

This is my third year growing sweet potatoes. I don't start my sweet potatoes until the first of May in two of my 4'x8' raised beds. Usually, I use the beds for bush beans and/or late Winter crops of carrots and beets and harvest those before replanting with the sweet potatoes. In my photo is my first harvest of Porto Rico grown from six slips at the end of Sept. 2010. Last year I got an even bigger crop growing both Porto Rico and Beauregard. Both years I cured the freshly dug potatoes in the garage for two weeks. Do not wash your potatoes, just brush with toweling to remove dry dirt. Once cured, I wrap each potato in a half sheet of newspaper and store in the air-conditioned house. I have had no problem with them lasting well into March. I usually bake two racks of sweet potatoes at a time and mash and freeze in 1-cup pkgs. which is a perfect serving for the two of us. This year I'm growing just Beauregards and different from the last two years, I used seed potatoes from last year's crop. So far the two beds are full of vines and I'm allowing them to span the three feet into a third bed. I don't plan to harvest until the end of October. I hope this helps those who are growing sweet potatoes for the first time.


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RE: Curing Sweet Potatoes

Yes, marymilkweed, thank you! My husband is dying to dig ours up (I think mainly because he's really tired of mowing around them) but I keep telling him that they need more time. We planted ours in early April.


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RE: Curing Sweet Potatoes

One thing I forgot to mention, stop watering your sweet potatoes a week before harvest. The whole reason for the curing process is to dry out the potatoes so they won't mold in storage. Also, by not watering which doesn't hurt the tubers, it makes it much easier to gently lift the potatoes out of dry soil. We trim away all the vines before lifting the tubers. Sweet potatoes need 100 days to develop a mature crop, although you can harvest earlier, but the tubers will be small.


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RE: Curing Sweet Potatoes

This is making me sad that everyone else seems to have no problem with the taste. I was really hoping there was a way to save all of these potatoes :(


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RE: Curing Sweet Potatoes

  • Posted by saldut 9-10 st pete, fl (My Page) on
    Fri, Jul 6, 12 at 15:54

Don't give up on growing them, just try different varieties... when I started, I got some 'organic' also some regular at Publix, and can't tell the difference... last Fall I got some mail-order from a Grower in Tenn., Cardamom or someting like that name, supposed to be a bush and not run all over the place, I planted them in pots and we'll see how they turn out...I figure that way I can just dig them out of the pot later-on and not break my back digging the half-acre w/the runners all over the place the way the regular ones grow..... of course, they don't grow in cooler weather so are just starting to now, but I am not in any hurry I've got those octopus-ones out there if I want a sweet-tater! sally


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RE: Curing Sweet Potatoes

I think maybe the kind I planted was a bush kind because the leaves are lobed and none of the vines are more than about 3-4ft long.


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RE: Curing Sweet Potatoes

I think maybe the kind I planted was a bush kind because the leaves are lobed and none of the vines are more than about 3-4ft long.


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RE: Curing Sweet Potatoes

  • Posted by whgille Oakland FL Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Sat, Jul 7, 12 at 6:47

Derbika

The lobed leaves are no indication that are bush. I have different leaves on all my bush sweets and I remember Luther bought slips from the Porto Rico variety and when I gave him slips of the bush Amish Porto Rico that I have, he said that the leaves were both lobed but different.
You can still use your sweet potatoes as a savory veggie like mashed or baked, when roasted at very low temperatures it gets sweeter and you can always add seasonings and maple syrup.
I will be digging mine soon, the kind that I have take anywhere between 90 and 120 days.

Two kinds of bush sweets, different leaves, even the color is different.

Photobucket

Silvia


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RE: Curing Sweet Potatoes

When did you plant yours, Sylvia?


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RE: Curing Sweet Potatoes

  • Posted by whgille Oakland FL Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Sun, Jul 8, 12 at 18:24

Nessz- I am on vacation in Jamaica now, enjoying sweet potatoes island style, love the food here!

About your question, I really don't remember the exact date but they were planted before the garden party in April. Last week when I saw them in the garden in one spot, they looked like they were ready to be harvested. You can do a test and dig a few to see if they are ready. I will probably dig mine when I get back. I have 2 new different varieties that were planted later and I will have to wait for those...

Silvia


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Thanks, Sylvia!


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RE: Curing Sweet Potatoes

Silvia - Thanks for the cooking ideas! I will definitely try the slow roasting technique - what temperature would you say to try? I might just have to get creative. As of now, the city has scheduled to tear down and rebuild the community garden in July or August, and I will be out of town during that time so I am going to have to harvest all of them in the next week or so. I planted them in early March because it was so warm this year, and I knew there was going to be a time crunch for harvesting. I wish I knew what variety it was so that I could make sure not to get it again. I guess that is the risk you take when you buy unlabeled produce to use in the garden. It still is strange though that the planted ones tasted fine.


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RE: Curing Sweet Potatoes

  • Posted by whgille Oakland FL Zone 9B (My Page) on
    Mon, Jul 9, 12 at 16:58

Derbika, I slow roast them covered in foil in a 325 degree oven, the trick for long storage is to put them away as dry as possible, I let them air dry in the porch and later I individually wrap them in newspaper to keep them dry and not rubbing against each other. Next season, you can contact me and I will send you some bush sweets that I have every year after harvesting. The last time I bought the slips and sweet potatoes was about 5 years ago.
It is a good idea for the community gardens to rebuild the beds, with the long warm season that we had the bugs and disease were a problem. The community garden around my area is also doing that and preparing for fall.

Silvia


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RE: Curing Sweet Potatoes

Derbika, I am a commercial grower of sweet potatoes in North Carolina. I have grown, cured, and stored sweet potatoes for a number of years. Curing aside, there are a number of factors that may affect the taste of sweet potato. Do you know the type of variety you have? Is it an orange flesh or white flesh variety? White flesh varieties are typically drier, and will have less sweet taste even after curing and storing. Variety type, quality of seed, and growing conditions can all play a role in the flavor of sweet potato. A previous poster was spot on with the idea of slow roasting to increase the sweetness. Also, green(fresh) sweet potatoes are also excellent for cutting and frying. Not the healthiest way to eat them, but great nonetheless. Curing is done for a couple of reasons. First, to help heal any skinning to the roots from harvest. Second, curing helps start to turn starches in the sweet potatoes to sugar. The curing process is only a few days. However, it can take weeks for the roots to develop a good sweet flavor. Artifical heat works well, but the sweet potatoes will cure themselves out eventually if you do absolutely nothing to them. I would suggest storing them in a dark, well ventilated area and continue to sample. I think you will find they will continue to get sweeter as time goes on. Good Luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Scott Farms


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RE: Curing Sweet Potatoes

Thanks for all the really useful information. I dug up all the ones I could today and will follow advice drying them and wrapping them. Hopefully, when I come back into town in a month or so they will have improved. I am not sure what variety they are - I just grew the slips from potatoes I bought at a local stand. However, I also ate some at the time and they seemed pretty normal. Probably a 7/8 out of 10 compared to the sweetest ones I have had. wolfpack_27851 - maybe you have an idea what variety they are? I am including a pic. The vines are about 4ft long after 90/100 days after the slips went in. The leaves are lobed and the flowers are purple. There are probably a bunch of varieties that fit the bill as Sylvia already mentioned, but maybe the pic gives a clue. I do not think they are white fleshed. There were many, many smaller undeveloped potatoes so I left the vines in just in case the garden has not been reconstructed before late August.


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