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OK, so, I just harvested my first batch of sweet potatoes:

(Holy crap, there are few things as satisfying as going on a treasure hunt in the dirt and pulling out a big ole hunk-o'-dinner!)

But...now what? I'm just a novice gardener and confess that I still don't really know what I'm doing.

Do I brush off the dirt, or will that bruise them further? Can I rinse them off and set them out to dry or will they mold?

I've read that sweet potatoes need to "cure" for a few weeks to let the enzymes activate and get all those good natural sugars cookin' up -- well, I don't have anywhere in the house kept at 80 degrees with 90% humidity. I can still cook em and eat em, right?

There are also a few bug holes (no pesticides, nothing); the holes aren't too deep, I can cut around them to get the good stuff. But how bad is that?

How will these keep?

Do I need to spend all weekend baking pies and chips? Lol

  • what a crop. i would enjoy learning from you about what you did to grow these beauties. – ychirea1 Dec 14 '15 at 16:15
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    Truly, nothing special, it was all in the soil. I use a mixture of rabbit and chicken poop, pine shavings, leaves, and very clay-ish dirt. The manure and pine shavings are raked up from my coop and the rabbit cages every few weeks and pushed into a compost pile in the back corner of the yard, where the chickens scratch at it for months; leaves are added in the fall, and it's left to cook in the rain and snow until Spring. The potatoes themselves were grown in a raised Hugelkultur bed: I threw some old rotting tree stumps and logs in the bottom and filled with compost. No watering, just rain. – AndrewG Dec 15 '15 at 18:43
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    After all that prep, I literally just planted the potatoes and ignored them for the whole spring & summer. The logs retain the rainwater and the potatoes wick them up from below as needed. The soil is very loamy and black and holds heat well. It's also full of bugs and fungus from the rotting wood, which I've read is actually good for the soil's ecosystem. If the logs had rotten further I think I would have had larger potatoes: they just didn't have enough room to expand and were wedged between everything. Next year should be better. – AndrewG Dec 15 '15 at 18:58
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    Oh, I have winter onions and garlic in this same bed, now, and they're doing fantastic. I can't wait to harvest in spring. – AndrewG Dec 15 '15 at 19:09
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There are two links below - the first one says you need to cure them at 80/90 deg F, the second one, to do with freezing sweet potatoes, suggests you can and should store them for a week in cooler (55-60 deg F) temperatures, and then cook and freeze them. I imagine the difference in the advice is to do with long term storage as opposed to preparing to freeze them.

As for the insect holes, yes, cut those out when you're preparing to cook them, but make sure there isn't something actually living in the potato (if you chop them up, you'll find it, but if you're cooking them whole and there's just a tunnel, follow it to the end to make sure).

http://www.almanac.com/plant/sweet-potato

http://www.pickyourown.org/freezing_sweetpotato.htm

  • I ended up making (some amazing) sweet potato bread, and then freezing the rest. Thank you! :) – AndrewG Nov 26 '15 at 23:54
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The county extension always gave the advice to keep them in a warm humid environment. I don't have the ideal location, but I took the advice of my neighbor with good results: keep them in your bathroom with a pot of water nearby and do not vent the heat from showering. After a couple weeks store them in your pantry and cut the bad spots off only when ready to clean & cook them. The bad spots are normal and will not cause an issue as long as they are removed. Another friend puts them by her wood stove with some water nearby to increase humidity.

Congrats on the harvest!

  • I'm worried that mold might develop in some of the bug holes -- a few are pretty wide and deep and have exposed the "inner flesh" of the potatoes. Can I wash them off? I could just fill up the bathtub, dump everything in and scrub them down with a scrub-brush. Or would that actually make things worse? – AndrewG Oct 16 '15 at 6:03
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    I can only speak from my experience. Maybe post an update with a picture on your post if you are worried. I haven't had any mold. I do not clean mine, I keep them in grocery bags. If you do not get any responses you could try an experiment: wash one bad looking one, keep another dirty, take another and do what the other answer suggested with cooler curing and freezing. Then have a taste test for what worked best for you and your variety/taste preference. – Ann Addicks Oct 16 '15 at 10:49
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    Just recording the outcome of the experiment: the washed one molded within 2 weeks. The others lasted 2 months and probably would have lasted longer (but then I cooked them.) I'll definitely just leave them in their own dirt in the future. – AndrewG Dec 15 '15 at 20:32
  • Awesome! Gardening is fabulous for the science minded folks. It is very frustrating when you loose a seasons worth of efforts to a trial, especially on a small scale household garden. When you are able to test on a couple and be happy with results from a small sample size it does make it fun and exciting. Thanks for sharing your results. – Ann Addicks Dec 16 '15 at 13:22
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You can also cook some candy, sweet potato candy is one of my favorite dessert when fall.

Sweet Potato Candy Recipe

  • 2 pounds of washed and same sized clean potatoes
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 pound of sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

Preparation:

Put the sweet potatoes, the water and cinnamon in a cooking pot and cook for 30 mins. Melt the sugar apart and add it to the cooking pot and cook 30 mins more.

I love to smash some sweet potato candy in a plate and add some of its honey an milk.

enter image description here

Also you can see more info here, in my country are called 'Dulces de Camote' and I'm sure that you can find many other recipes to cook different variety of Sweet Potato Candies.

  • I have to say in my defense that you are going to eat them any ways :) – Alexander Leon VI Oct 21 '15 at 22:13

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