Mary's Veggie Garden

October 24, 2010

Can These Sweet Potatoes Be Saved?

Filed under: Gardening,Sweet Potatoes,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 7:14 am
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I’ve been harvesting sweet potatoes since early October. A lot of them are damaged by animals, the most damage I’ve seen in 4 years of growing sweet potatoes. I suspect rodents, possibly mice or voles because the side facing the soil surface is damaged. C

At the Vassar Farm community gardens about 1/4 of my sweet potatoes were damaged. I brought most of mine home and cooked the smaller damaged ones immediately. My neighbor’s sweet potatoes were also damaged and I salvaged a couple of their huge cast-offs from the cull pile.

10/19/2010 Two from the cull pile: the left SP weighs 1.75 pounds even though half was trimmed away, the right SP is a bit over 1 pound.

All together, I have around 15 pounds of very damaged sweet potatoes. That is too much to eat right away so I would like to cure them for storage. The curing process sweetens the potatoes and intensifies their flavor. Is is possible to cure these damaged sweet potatoes, and how long will they last in storage?
As you can see from the pictures, I’ve handled the damaged sweet potatoes two different ways. I washed all of them, scrubbing lightly with a brush to remove soil. For about half the sweet potatoes I cut away the damaged area. The rest I left in their original gnawed condition. The gnawed areas were already dried at harvest time so clearly the animals had been dining over a period of weeks.

10/19/2010 Damaged Sweet Potatoes 'Georgia Jets' from my garden. Most of the SPs are curing without problems.

Most of the damaged sweet potatoes were heaped in a large bowl covered by a dish towel and placed on top of the refrigerator to cure.
All photos are  Ipomoea batatus ‘Georgia Jets’ .

Storage Results:

Oct 18: My fist check, after one and a half weeks of storage showed some problems: a couple sweet potatoes had developed wet rot. I discarded those sweet potatoes and washed the mold from the adjacent potatoes. Another huge SP in an uncovered bowl also developed wet rot. I cut off the rot and I’m trying to cure the sweet potato, but watching closely.

I’m now checking the sweet potatoes a couple of times a week, just to make sure there are no more problems. I probably could have caught the wet rot problem earlier: a couple sweet potatoes had spots that looked wet and didn’t dry, and which could not be dried with a paper towel. Now I know: cut out the ‘wet’ spot and use the rest immediately.

Oct 28: There have been no additional problems. I’ll continue to update this posting as I cook the damaged sweet potatoes.

Oct. 29. This is the huge sweet potato that I discovered had wet rot on 10/18. It looks like I was successful in removing the rot then storing the SP. I discarded about 25% of the sweet potato when I prepared it for cooking. The remaining 1.5 pounds made a fine casserole. The whitish area on the surface is a well dried crust.

10/29 After I cut away some rot on 10/18, this sweet potato cured successfully.

Nov. 8: This one surprised me. When I cut into it, I discovered some dry rot – at about 12 o’clock in the picture. Again, I discarded about a quarter of the sweet potato before cooking it.  There were a lot of cracks and fissures on the back of the SP which don’t show in the picture.

11/8

Nov. 10.  Some of these smaller SPs are not storing as well as the monsters. The two on the left look like a complete loss. These are the same SPs photographed in the bowl on 10/19.

11/10: some cure better than others, and there is no telling in advance which will store successfully if they are damaged.

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