How to know if a sweet potato is bad

So, can you tell if a sweet potato is spoiled? Think again! This root vegetable may appear innocent, but it can surprise you with its deceiving ways. 

But don’t worry.

I’m here to guide you through the puzzling world of sweet potatoes. We’ll cover everything you need to know to determine if your sweet potato is still eatable, from visual cues to touch and smell tests.

What are sweet potatoes?

Oh, sweet potatoes, what a versatile and nutritious root vegetable! These vibrant orange beauties can be found in various dishes, from sweet pies to savory fries. But have you ever wondered what sweet potatoes are exactly? 

Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are a member of the Convolvulaceae family. Starchy tubers come in different colors, such as orange, purple, and white. Sweet potatoes are high in vitamins A and C, fiber, and antioxidants. They also have a naturally sweet taste, which is why they have the word “sweet” in their name.

But here’s a fun fact: sweet potatoes aren’t identical to regular potatoes. No, they don’t come from the same potato family. While they may appear similar, they each have distinct characteristics and flavors.

How do sweet potatoes spoil?

Sweet potatoes, like any other nutritious food, have a shelf life. Unfortunately, they do succumb to the untimely fate of spoiling. So, what causes sweet potatoes to spoil? Let us now get into more detail.

Moisture is one of the primary causes of sweet potato spoilage. Excess moisture can cause bacteria and mold to grow, resulting in an unappealing mushy mess.

Bad sweet potato

Excessive exposure to air is another reason. Sweet potatoes should be kept in a cool, dry place. They lose moisture quickly when left out in the open, causing them to dry out and become unpalatable. 

Temperature is the third enemy of sweet potatoes. If you expose these radiant orange tubers to extreme temperatures, they will not be able to withstand the heat (or cold). Heat accelerates deterioration, whereas freezing temperatures can cause them to develop an unappealing texture.

Let us not forget the destructive effects of time. Even if you treat your sweet potatoes like kings and queens, they will not last forever. They will eventually sprout and develop mold, leaving you with no choice but to bid them farewell.

So keep in mind that sweet potatoes are not invincible. They, like the rest of us, have flaws. Keep them away from moisture and air, avoid extreme temperatures, and use them within a reasonable timeframe. Otherwise, you’ll have a not-so-sweet potato surprise on your plate.

Visual cues to check

Visual cues are small clues that sweet potatoes leave behind to indicate when they have spoiled. 

First and foremost, look for any dark spots or discoloration on the skin of the sweet potato. It’s time to say goodbye if it appears to have spent too much time in the sun and has become unevenly tanned. 

Next, inspect the sweet potato for any soft or mushy spots. If you squeeze it gently and it feels like you’re holding a squishy sponge, it’s game over.

Trust your eyesight and keep an eye out for mold or green sprouts. Mold is the uninvited guest who spoils a good party, and green sprouts are the unwelcome pimple that appears at inconvenient times. If you notice either of these, it’s a sure sign that the sweet potato has passed its best time.

Remember to trust your nose! Take a deep breath of the sweet potato. If it smells funky, like a mix between gym socks and vinegar, throw it out before it contaminates everything else in your kitchen.

Remember that while these visual cues may not be 100% accurate, they are your best bet for determining if a sweet potato has gone bad. So, have fun exploring, and may your sweet potatoes always be fresh and delicious!

Touch and smell test

Let’s start with the exciting topic of determining if a sweet potato has gone bad with the help of touch and smell. We’ve talked about what sweet potatoes are, how they spoil, and even what visual cues to look for. It’s time to carry out the touch and smell test. 

Let’s start with touch. The texture of a fresh sweet potato should be firm and smooth. If you feel like you’re squeezing a stress ball, it’s time to say goodbye to that spud. 

bad sweet potato | Touch and smell test

Now it’s time for the smell test. Take a good sniff at that sweet potato. A fresh sweet potato should smell slightly sweet and earthy. If it smells unpleasant, such as a locker room after a soccer game, it’s best to avoid it. 

Remember, your secret weapon against spoiled sweet potatoes is the touch-and-smell test. With these skills in your arsenal, you’ll never have to deal with the disappointment of a bad spud again. 

Signs of mold or sprouting

Sweet potatoes are known for having a long shelf life, but even they have limits. Mold or sprouting can indicate that your sweet potatoes are past their optimum state. Nobody wants to eat a moldy or sprouted sweet potato, so let’s learn how to spot these issues before it’s too late!

When looking for mold, look for any fuzzy, green, or black spots on the surface of your sweet potato. If you see any of these colorful additions, it’s time to toss that spud. Mold can be a sign of decay and potentially dangerous bacteria, so it’s best to be safe and say goodbye to that sweet potato forever.

Conversely, sprouting is a natural process in which a sweet potato starts sprouting new shoots. While this may appear to be a good thing, it is a sign of aging and can affect the taste and texture of the potato. If you observe tiny sprouts or long, gangly ones, it’s a sign that your sweet potato is bad.

To summarize, moldy or sprouted sweet potatoes should be avoided. Mold indicates decay while sprouting indicates the potato is nearing the end of its life. So, the next time you inspect your sweet potatoes, watch for these visual cues to avoid a less-than-pleasant dining experience.

How long do sweet potatoes last?

Sweet potatoes, a versatile and flavorful root vegetables that complement any meal. But how long do these delicious tubers last? Let’s investigate!

When properly stored, they can last for several weeks. This is great news for those who habitually forget about vegetables after purchasing them.

spoiled sweet potato

Sweet potatoes can last up to three to five weeks if stored in a cool, dark, and well-ventilated environment. Please, however, resist the urge to keep them in the fridge! The cold environment can change the taste and texture of the potatoes, leaving you with a disappointing spud experience.

To determine whether your sweet potatoes are still safe to eat, watch for any noticeable changes in appearance, such as mold, wrinkling, or sprouting. Give them a gentle squeeze if they pass the visual test. A firm texture denotes freshness, whereas a mushy or soft texture denotes spoilage. Of course, your nose is the most accurate! If the sweet potato emits a strange or unpleasant odor, it’s time to say goodbye.


Sweet potatoes are a versatile and delectable side dish for any meal. It’s necessary to recognize when potatoes have gone bad, whether you’re roasting, mashing, or baking them. So, here are the key points to consider when determining whether a sweet potato is spoiled:

To begin, pay attention to visual cues. Examine the area for any signs of decay, such as visible mold or black spots. The discoloration is normal, but anything beyond that is cause for concern. 

Next, put your trust in your senses of touch and smell. If the sweet potato feels mushy or has a bad odor, it’s time to throw it out. Fresh sweet potatoes should be firm with a mildly sweet aroma.

Finally, keep an eye out for sprouting or excessive wrinkling. These are signs that the sweet potato has passed its prime and will no longer taste as good as it should.

Sweet potatoes have a varying shelf life, but when stored properly in a cool, dark place, they can last for several weeks. As a result, use them before they begin to deteriorate.

Now that you know how to tell if a sweet potato is spoiled, you can confidently enjoy this delicious and nutritious vegetable. 

Cheers to cooking!

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