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How To Tell When Sweet Potato Is Bad? 5 Simple And Effective Ways

Sweet potatoes are a root vegetable that are popular worldwide due to their deliciously sweet flavor and smooth and creamy consistency. They’re a great addition to any meal and are perfect for those of us who try and lead healthy lifestyles. 

Now, although sweet potatoes can last significantly longer than most other veggies when stored properly, as the saying goes, “all good things must come to an end.” If you’ve ever opened the fridge or pantry door and were attacked by the effects of rotten produce, you know what we’re talking about. 

Sweet potatoes are one of those vegetables that are especially prone to going bad due to their high water contents and, if you’re not careful, will go past their prime and turn your pantry into a rather unpleasant space in your home. 

When sweet potatoes are good, they’re smooth, firm and possess a deep color. In this state, they are highly nutritious and contain numerous health benefits, including protein, dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin A, potassium, powerful antioxidants, and minerals such as iron, calcium, and selenium.

However, when sweet potatoes turn rotten, all of these health benefits disappear and you are left with nothing but spoiled food. 

Although there are obvious signs of spoilage, when sweet potatoes initially go bad, it may be difficult to identify whether or not they have actually expired. 

In today’s fast-paced society, life is too busy to have to worry about possibly eating rotten food (not to mention the ailments you may contract post-eating), which is exactly why we are here to share with you 5 foolproof ways of being able to recognize spoiled sweet potatoes. 

If your sweet potatoes pass any of the following texture, smell, color or mold tests, they have likely gone bad and we would highly recommend not consuming them.

How To Tell When Sweet Potato Is Bad

How To Tell If Your Sweet Potatoes Are Bad: Texture?

If you have suspicions that your sweet potatoes may be past their prime, a great indicator of this is the texture. 

If any of the following signs are visible, it’s likely time to throw them away. 

Indicator Description 
Softness When sweet potatoes are in their best state, they will have very firm skin. 
If you press down on your sweet potatoes and they feel soft and mushy, avoid consuming them. 
Shriveled/Wrinkles When sweet potatoes start to go bad, another indicator is if you see any signs of wrinkles or shriveled spots. 
Shriveling occurs when the sweet potatoes lose moisture, which causes them to spoil. 
The skin of a healthy sweet potato will appear tight and smooth (humans and vegetables have a lot more in common than we realized). 

RELATED: Are Potatoes Healthier Than Rice (Baked Potato Vs Rice Nutrition)?

How To Tell If Your Sweet Potatoes Are Bad: Smell? 

When it comes to identifying whether or not food has gone bad, the most common indicator is smell

Have you ever opened your fridge and almost got knocked over by an extremely unpleasant odor? 

If this happens, it’s a good idea to find the root cause of it. If you suspect it might be your sweet potatoes, take a look at the following indicators.

IndicatorDescription 
Unpleasant SmellWhen sweet potatoes are in their prime, they should smell pleasant, fresh and earthy. 
 Sweet potatoes may start to possess a strange odor when they develop bacteria or mold. 
If you open your fridge and are greeted by a pungent, bad odor, it’s likely time to get rid of your sweet potatoes. 
Remember, sweet potatoes do have a mild earthy smell, so if it smells like this, it’s okay to eat. 
If you’re still feeling unsure, look for some of the other indicators, such as the texture, color and whether or not mold or sprouts are present.

RELATED: Can You Eat Potatoes That Are Undercooked?

How To Tell If Your Sweet Potatoes Are Bad: Color?

After smell, the second most obvious indicator of rotten veggies is appearance. 

When you look at your sweet potatoes and your instincts are telling you that something is off visually, you’re probably right. 

The color, in particular, will be a sure sign of this. When it comes to sweet potatoes, the color of both the skin and the inside flesh will show signs. 

RELATED: How Do Restaurants Make Baked Potatoes So Fast

How To Tell If Your Sweet Potatoes Are Bad: Color

For further reassurance, check out these indicators:

Indicator Description
ColorTo identify whether or not the skin has gone bad, it’s important to keep in mind that sweet potatoes can come in three main colors: white, purple and red. 
If any of these colors turn brown or black, your potatoes have started to rot. 
The exterior is not the only part of the potatoes that can indicate spoilage. 
Depending on the color of the skin of the potato, the flesh will also possess a distinctive hue. If you notice any change in color from the original, or any brown or dark spots, you may want to consider throwing your sweet potatoes away (however, if the spots are minimal, you can also eat the parts around them). 
At the end of the day, it’s up to your best judgment.
If you’re still feeling unsure, look for some of the other indicators, such as the texture, smell and  whether or not mold or sprouts are present. 

How To Tell If Your Sweet Potatoes Are Bad: Mold? 

For the sake of both you, the vegetable and the garbage man, we hope your sweet potatoes never reach this state. 

If they do, don’t panic. We’ve all been there- you haven’t cleaned out the pantry in a while and food inevitably gets lost in the dark, dark corner of the produce shelf. 

You start to notice a strong odor and decide it’s time to go on a hunt to identify where the smell is coming from. And that’s when you discover it. A shriveled lump of something that once resembled food, is now covered in mold. 

Mold is extremely unhealthy and, when consumed, can make you very sick. If you’re not sure whether or not the spots on your sweet potatoes are moldy, the indications in the following chart may be able to help you. 

IndicatorDescription 
Mold Spots When your sweet potatoes begin to go bad, they may start to develop mold.
This will appear in the form of green or white fuzzy spots and should not be consumed under any circumstances. 
Your sweet potatoes may also become plagued with black spots. When this happens, it’s important to discard it immediately (besides bacteria, they will also be tasteless and bitter). 
NOTE: While it is unsafe to consume areas that are moldy, if only the skin of the sweet potatoes is fuzzy or black, you can simply peel this off and consume the rest. 
This also applies to the inside flesh part. 
A good rule to follow is to cut out the moldy parts as well as a 1-inch parameter around the mold to ensure you’re not eating any contaminated areas. 
If you’re unsure, it’s best not to risk it!

RELATED: Do Sweet Potatoes Go Bad? What You Need To Know!

How To Tell If Your Sweet Potatoes Are Bad: Growths/Sprouts?

As your sweet potatoes mature, they may start to develop growths or sprouts on the surface. 

While some of these are not necessarily harmful, after an extended period of time it’s best not to consume areas contaminated by them. 

How To Tell If Your Sweet Potatoes Are Bad: Growths/Sprouts

For more info, check out this chart:

IndicatorDescription 
Growths/Sprouts When sweet potatoes are fresh, they should be free from any growths or sprouts on the skin. 
After time, these growths may appear, but it’s important to keep in mind that most of them are not harmful. 
If the sprouts are small and minimal in quantity, simply cut them off and consume the rest of the potato. 
However, if you notice there are a lot and quite large in size, we would recommend throwing the potato away. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Sweet Potatoes Go Bad?

Yes, because sweet potatoes contain a high amount of water within them, this moisture causes them to spoil more quickly. 

When sweet potatoes go bad, they can succumb to a number of changes, including emitting a strange odor, developing sprouts, becoming soft and mushy and turning brown or black. 

The key to making them last as long as possible is ensuring they are stored properly. The pantry is most ideal for sweet potatoes as they thrive in cooler spaces. 

Raw potatoes will also last longer than after they are cooked. For more information on how to store this vegetable, make sure to check out question 4. 

What Is The White Inside A Sweet Potato?

If you’ve ever seen white liquid coming out of your sweet potatoes and wondered what the heck it is, we’re here to clear things up. 

Although it may appear as a sign of caution that your potatoes are going rotten, this liquid is actually perfectly normal and healthy. 

When sweet potatoes are fresh and very sweet, they produce a mixture of starch and sugar that ultimately turns into the residue that you are noticing. 

This residue may also come in the form of white spots and, like the liquid, is totally safe and will disappear once the sweet potatoes are cooked. 

How Long Do Sweet Potatoes Last?

Sweet potatoes can last a very long time if stored properly. 

The best way to store a sweet potato is in the pantry in a cool, dark and dry area. When kept this way, sweet potatoes can last up to 2 months, depending on how fresh they were when you purchased them. 

How Do You Store Sweet Potatoes?

Depending on whether your potatoes are raw or cooked will determine how you store them. Follow these tips to know more:

  • Pantry: sweet potatoes can be stored in the pantry for up to 2 months. The best space for this veggie is in a cool, dark area. Also, ensuring that the space is dry and has good ventilation is important. Finally, make sure not to wash the raw potatoes prior to storing, as the moisture could cause bacteria to grow (simply wash them right before cooking them). 
  • Fridge: we do not recommend storing raw sweet potatoes in the fridge, however, cooked sweet potatoes can be stored this way for up to 3-5 days in an airtight container (just make sure they are cooled after cooking). 
  • Freezer: if you would like to freeze your sweet potatoes and eat them at a later date, the process entails first boiling or baking the potatoes, allowing them to completely cool, tightly wrapping each individual potato in plastic wrap and then placing them in either a freezer bag or container for up to 1 year. 

What Happens If You Eat Bad Sweet Potatoes?

Eating sweet potatoes that are rotten and have been contaminated by bacteria and mold can cause serious health problems. If the potato is really far gone, food poisoning may occur. If this has happened to you, you should seek immediate medical attention

How Do You Buy Good Sweet Potatoes?

Choosing the right sweet potatoes at the grocery store will help to ensure that your sweet potatoes have the longest shelf life possible. 

When it comes to this root vegetable, you want to choose ones that are small-medium in size, as these are typically sweeter and more creamy than larger ones. 

In addition, you should feel the potato. If it is firm, smooth and rich in color, it’s a good option (sweet potatoes that have a deep hue are higher in antioxidants). 

Can You Eat Sweet Potato Skin?

Yes! Not only do sweet potato skins make for a fabulous appetizer due to their tasty flavors, they are also super healthy and rich in fiber, antioxidants and other nutrients

Jess Smith