Like standard potatoes, sweet potatoes will start to sprout if they are left long enough and the conditions are right. But are sprouted sweet potatoes safe to eat? Will your entire crop be wasted if a few of them start to sprout? What can you do with the sprouted ones to save them? Can you add them to dishes to make something new and delicious?
Let’s have a look into the answers to these questions.
What You'll Learn Today
Why Do Sweet Potatoes Sprout?
Sweet potatoes don’t really grow from seeds (no matter whether you grow them outdoors or in containers indoors). Like their standard potato cousins, they grow from shoots that emerge from the tubers, called slips. All plants are desperate to procreate, and keep their genes going for the following season, and sweet potatoes are no exception.
Standard potatoes, if left for long enough in the right conditions, will start to sprout all by themselves (as many of us who have forgotten about a bag left in the cupboard will know!) but sweet potatoes tend not to do this without a little extra help.
If you dig up a tuber that is sprouting, the best thing you can do is save it for planting next year. If conditions in your larder turn out to be just right for sprouting sweet potatoes and you come across a sprouting sweet potato where you weren’t expecting one, then count yourself lucky – you now have a chance to grow your own harvest!
Or, if you don’t want to plant them, you can add them to your food for an interesting dinner party conversation.
Are Sprouted Sweet Potatoes Safe To Eat?
The good news is that yes, you can eat sprouted sweet potatoes. Unlike the sprouts that emerge from a standard potato, sweet potato sprouts are edible – and they taste pretty good!
They also contain the same concentration of nutrients as the sweet potatoes they grow into – not in the same volumes, obviously, but they are still nutritious (and tasty).
You can either leave the sprouts on your potato and just cook them along with your sweet potatoes, or you can cut the sprouts off and use them to add crunch to a salad, or a bit of intrigue to a stir fry.
Sweet potato sprouts will not contain the full levels of nutritional benefit as their full grown selves will, but even these tiny shoots of the tubers will still be good for your health – and they’re a fun thing to play about with, and add to dishes for a bit of extra fun and conversation starting.
How To Sprout Sweet Potatoes?
If you develop a taste for sweet potato sprouts, there are ways that you can try to encourage your tubers to sprout. Keeping them in a cool place, which is what you should do if you want to store your sweet potatoes, will prevent them from sprouting as they need warmth to reproduce, so don’t keep them in the fridge!
- You can try to encourage sprouting by keeping your potatoes warm, and in a place with relatively high humidity. Around about 70 degrees F will be an optimum temperature to help bring on sweet potato sprouts, and around 80% humidity.
- You can also encourage your sweet potatoes to sprout by filling a jam jar with water and placing the sweet potato into it so that the bottom half is covered. Leave it for up to a month, until little roots start to appear and slips start to grow from the top.
- You could also try leaving your sweet potatoes in a cupboard and forgetting about them – but speaking as someone who has done this, it is not particularly effective and will likely leave you with a pile of mould where your sweet potatoes once were!
What To Do With Sprouted Sweet Potatoes
You have a few options if your sweet potatoes start to sprout:
1. Save the sprouted slip to plant as part of next year’s harvest
If it is the wrong time of year and it is too cold to pant them outside, save the slip by burying it in moist potting compost and keeping it in a warm place. In a few weeks, you should see young tender leaves emerge, and you can either grow this pant on until it is ready to plant out, of you can use it to grow sweet potato greens.
2. Eat the sprouts along with your sweet potato
Either just cook these the way you are cooking the rest of your spud, or break them off and add them to salads for a nice crunch.
3. Grow sweet potato greens
Sweet potato greens are delicious and highly nutritious part of the plant too, despite the fact that they are usually discarded. If your sweet potatoes are sprouting but you don’t wish to replant them to grow more tubers, you can use them to grow a tasty crop of young leaves.
These can be used in the same way as spinach, or added to a salad, made into a juice, or just nibbled by themselves. Sweet potato greens are high in Vitamin C and B6 as well as other trace elements, so they pack a great nutritional punch.
If you’ve been wondering “is it safe to eat sweet potatoes that have sprouted?” then now you have your answer. They are not only safe to eat, but also very nutritious and versatile, whether you use just the sprouts or allow them to develop leaves too.
Want to use them for next year’s crop? Eat them along with the potato? Use them to add a little quirk to other dishes? Any of these options are great for sprouted sweet potatoes, and they carry just as many heath benefits as the potatoes themselves.