As a hearty root vegetable, the sweet potato is relatively easy to store, according to Benson Kimani, an agronomist. He says it is best to keep sweet potatoes in a cool, dry area that gets good ventilation.

You really should not store sweet potatoes in the fridge if you plan to eat them within the next month or so, as refrigeration can cause a hard center and unpleasant-tasting flesh. They technically will last longer if they are refrigerated, they just won't taste great.

Sweet potatoes can last for several months when stored properly, but you need to follow proper storage procedures carefully in order to prevent them from bruising or spoiling. Here is what you need to know about storing sweet potatoes at both room temperature and freezing temperatures as advised by Kimani.

Use fresh, fleshy sweet potatoes

Fleshy sweet potatoes keep up just as well as thin ones and they have more usable meat to consume.

Select only healthy sweet potatoes for storage because it is easy for pests to move from rotten yams to healthy ones.

When harvesting the sweet potatoes, yourself, use a spade fork to dig four to six inches (10 to 15 cm) beneath the soil in order to get all the roots up.

“Handle them carefully since sweet potatoes tend to bruise easily, and shake off excess dirt but do not wash the roots,” he says.

Ensure to store your sweet potatoes in a place that has access to fresh air because yam can decay when they do not receive enough fresh air.

Cure the sweet potatoes for about a week or two

You could also carry out curing in order to prevent the potatoes from water loss during handling, storage and market.

Keep the roots in a room or other location that reaches between 24 and 27 degrees Celsius with relative humidity of 90 to 95 per cent.

“The sweet potatoes need to cure for at least seven days, but they can be kept there for as many as 14 days,” says Kimani.

The curing process creates a second skin that forms over scratches and bruises, allowing the sweet potatoes to last longer in storage.

Use a small electric fan in the area to keep the air circulating. This helps to prevent rotting and molding.

Monitor the temperature and humidity regularly to make sure that the sweet potatoes are sitting in the conditions needed for proper curing.

Keep the sweet potatoes from touching each other as they cure, for better results.

Store in a cool, dark location.

For best results, store the sweet potatoes in a basement or root cellar. If neither option is available to you, store them in a dark, cool, and well-ventilated cupboard or pantry away from strong heat sources.

Do not use a refrigerator.

Monitor the temperature frequently to make sure that it does not fall below or rise above the recommended range.

Stored in this manner, the sweet potatoes can last up to six months. Remove them from storage gently to prevent bruising.

“Other methods of storing the sweet potatoes include leaving your potatoes in the ridges after maturity. Although there are advantages and disadvantages to this. Use of potato barns is one of the most advised methods as they do not get rotten quickly because they are raised from the ground within the barn,” Kimani says.

Silos can be used too but this method is not really advised as it does not give room for enough ventilation.

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