On Curing Sweet Potatoes

curing sweet potatoes, harvesting sweet potatoes, sweet potato harvest

Sweet potatoes when freshly harvested, don’t taste anywhere near as good as they will after curing. Curing sweet potatoes is a necessary part of producing one’s own for the kitchen.

A really sweet, sweet potato has been cured before cooking.

Back in the early 80s, I remember our first taste of Red Wine Velvet, an exceptionally sweet, moist variety. We loved it! I distributed it through the Seed Savers Exchange and… for a number of years endured doubts about the variety, as at least two people who grew it, reported that it had inferior flavor and wasn’t all that good. My own father reported the same thing when he grew it. What was the problem? The problem was that these folk didn’t cure the roots before cooking.

Curing Sweet Potatoes Requires Two Things: Warmth & Time

culinary resilience, wood stove cooking, rustic cookery, self sufficiency
Cooking Sweet Potatoes on the woodstove

Warmth

When it’s still warm outside I like to harvest and dry my roots in the garden. Then I box them and stash them on our enclosed sun porch, which gets really hot in the afternoon. I keep them there for a couple of weeks, if it’s not too cool at night. Once nights get cool I bring them into the house. If possible, I stash them in the same room as our wood stove, for at least a couple weeks. Then, due to space considerations, I move them elsewhere, trying never to store them where it’s cool. Sweet potatoes like warmth.

Time

Some varieties are plenty sweet and ready to eat in two or three weeks. Others benefit from, yet more time in storage. Grand Asia, one of my favorites, which is not super sweet to begin with, is really only at its best after a couple of months in storage. This brings out its best flavor. While in storage, try not to move or jostle the roots very much, this can affect their flavor.

Do Store-Bought Sweet Potatoes Require Curing?

I have never encountered a store-bought sweet potato that wasn’t already properly cured. If, however, you should ever purchase sweet potatoes and they aren’t very tasty, consider holding whatever you haven’t cooked for a few more weeks and then trying them again.

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