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Proper curing improves sweet potato quality and shelf life

According to Shaun Francis, Extension horticulture specialist for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, farmers should cure their sweet potato crop for a period of time to enhance the taste and ensure a longer shelf life.

Francis: “Sweet potatoes remain metabolically active after they are harvested. As the tubers continue the respiration process, their starches are converted to sugars, hence the sweet taste. Curing improves this conversion process.”

Another purpose of the curing process is to heal any abrasions or bruises the sweet potatoes sustain during harvesting. The curing process can begin immediately after sweet potatoes are harvested. First, they should be removed from the field as soon as possible to prevent sunscald damage.

Francis told “If you are harvesting during moist conditions, allow the soil around the roots to dry for an hour or two. Though you can remove excess soil around the roots, remember not to wash your freshly harvested potatoes.” Store the potatoes in a warm, humid room for four to seven days. Ideal conditions for curing are a temperature of 85–90 degrees and a relative humidity of 80-90%.


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