Sweet potato curing questions
A lot of the questions we get concern the nature of “curing” sweet potatoes, so I wanted to further comment about the nature of the process. There is nothing mystical, or magical about it, it is just a practical step in the process of preserving your hard earned produce.
Curing and eating
Sweet potatoes don’t have to be “cured” to be eaten, but they do need some time to air dry and heal before they are stored away for the season. The main purpose of the curing process is to allow a dry layer to develop over abrasions before storage to prevent rotting. There is also some benefit in allowing nature to take it’s course in developing sugars from the naturally occurring carbohydrates in the sweet potato. This occurs throughout the storage process as well as during the air drying process. This is more evident in the Irish potato than the sweet potato. Any good cook can tell you, it is difficult to properly fry a fresh Irish potato.
Sweet potato curing process
In the farming world, much of the curing takes place in the slated potato crates used for storing and transporting the sweet potatoes, so if you buy them from a dealer, or at your local farmers market, they may have some abrasions that could benefit from some air drying before final storage.
In practice, the home grower can use slated wooden fruit boxes to cure and store sweet potatoes, although these boxes have become much less common than they were during my youth. Such boxes allow air to all sides, as well as the top and bottom. Sweet potatoes can be placed into the boxes in a single layer, and will keep very well in this way.
Sweet potato curing principle
The principle is simple: Allow as much air drying as possible within the space available before storage to prevent rot. There are many ways to accomplish this. Wire racks, slated boxes, or any similar setup will do.