Noticed a few sprouts coming out of a batch of sweet potatoes that you left in a humid cupboard?
Just like typical potatoes, sweet potatoes can grow long sprouts too – but does this change make them inedible?
Can you eat sprouted sweet potatoes? Yes, sprouted sweet potatoes are completely edible and safe to eat as long as you cook them properly. The sprouts can either be removed or consumed with the potatoes as they add a delicious crunch and offer some nutrition and flavor too.
Check out what makes sprouted sweet potatoes so delicious and special below!
Sprouting is the natural process whereby seeds start to sprout and grow into the same plant as the seed. It’s nature’s way of passing on the genome of the plant and ensuring the survival of the plant’s species.
The cool thing about sprouting is that it can be controlled and manipulated in different ways. In fact, humans have been intervening and making subtle changes in how food crops grow for centuries.
Making small tweaks in the humidity, temperature, and sun/wind exposure can go a long way in sprouting seeds and growing them to produce a high yield.
Nature provides in abundance which is why a sprouted seed can grow and produce up to several fruits and vegetables – that can further continue the cycle and produce even more crops!
But sprouting isn’t an exact science and there is a lot of difference between sprouting seeds and sprouting full-grown vegetables.
Take sweet potatoes as an example: did you know, sweet potatoes don’t grow from seeds, rather they require mature sprouted sweet potatoes to grow even more sweet potatoes!
How does this work?
In simple terms, sweet potatoes can be cut in half and dipped halfway in the water, which will produce slips. The roots will start to grow from the bottom while the shoots will grow from the top. Each halved or whole sweet potato will grow and produce several sweet potatoes!
Here’s a great tutorial for sweet potato sprouting on YouTube from Daisy Creek Farms with Jag Singh.
Culinary Uses Of Sprouting
So, does sprouting change how sweet potatoes taste? No!
Sweet potatoes will remain – well, sweet. They will not change in texture or flavor and you will be able to eat the sprouts with ease too. The sprouts have a similar sweet flavor and also provide the same nutrients – although in smaller quantities.
If allowed to grow, the slips will develop roots at the bottom and edible leaves on top. Yes – the leaves of this plant are also edible and when cooked, they will provide a sweet and spinach-like flavor.
If you are new to the culinary uses of sprouts then there is a whole world of sprouted vegetables that you can either grow at home or buy from the supermarket.
Sprouted beans, radishes, legumes, and peas are all common vegetables that are consumed daily around the globe.
You may think that people enjoy the flavor of sprouted vegetables – but it is rather the texture that most people are after than the flavor.
As we explained above, the flavor of the vegetable usually remains the same. For example, sprouted radish will continue to have a mild peppery flavor, even when it has sprouted. But it will offer a completely new dimension of texture.
Sprouts are sought after for their crunchy and crisp texture. It is invaluable in many cuisines and can be used in many different ways to uplift the overall texture of a dish.
In the same way, sweet potatoes will provide a fantastic texture along with the same delicious flavor – which makes them even more desirable and opens up new avenues of recipes for them too.
But before you jump into eating sprouted vegetables, there are a few things that you need to know.
Are Sprouted Vegetables Safe?
In the context of sweet potatoes, the sprouts are completely safe to eat but can also be removed if you aren’t familiar with the texture or if you simply do not enjoy sprouts in your food.
The truth is, some people try to avoid sprouts – but not out of distaste, but rather, fear.
In some cases, sprouted vegetables can carry a health risk. See, while most sprouts are safe to eat, some vegetable varieties produce inedible sprouts too.
For example, even though regular potatoes may look and feel like sweet potatoes, they are distant relatives. Both vegetables are referred to as “tuberous root vegetables” and come from completely separate families.
If you spot a sprouted regular potato, just remember that it isn’t an invitation to eat it.
Sprouted potatoes produce inedible stems that contain solanine, chaconine, and glycoalkaloids – in other words, they produce strong toxins that can cause a lot of digestive issues and even lead to serious health problems.
So, it is not as much as you can’t eat them it is just that you should avoid them at all costs! Always consult with an expert or do your very own thorough research on a sprouted vegetable before you make any dinner plans.
Sprouted Sweet Potatoes Precautions
Even though sweet potatoes are generally safe to eat, there are a few precautions that you must consider before eating them.
First, sprouted sweet potatoes should always be cooked before consumption. While the sprouts are tender enough to be eaten raw, you should avoid eating them this way as the vegetable might carry bacteria or other pathogens.
Wash and clean the sweet potato and then cook it as indicated in the recipe. You can also snip off the sprouts and cook them separately.
Avoid eating sweet potatoes that have started to grow longer roots and leaves because, during this stage, the potatoes will provide better utility if they are used to grow more sweet potatoes!
When Not To Eat Sprouted Sweet Potatoes
Do not eat potatoes that have a mushy exterior or have started to grow visible fungal growth.
Any discoloration, foul odor, or textural changes must be noted before you eat the potatoes.
These signs will indicate that the potatoes have gone bad and that they cannot be salvaged. Dispose of the bad potatoes in the bin or use them as compost.
Even if you do not notice these visual changes, the ultimate way to tell if sweet potatoes have gone bad is to taste them. If you notice bitterness or sharpness in flavor then this might indicate that the potatoes have gone off.
How To Sprout Sweet Potatoes
Sprouting sweet potatoes is very easy and can be done as a fun experiment with your loved ones too.
Here is what you need:
- Fill a clean large mason jar with tap water. The jar should be large enough to fit a mature sweet potato.
- Either cut the vegetable in half or use it whole to sprout. You can use any variety of sweet potatoes – we recommend Japanese sweet potatoes for the best experience.
- Dip the bottom of the potato in water. The bottom part is the blunt end of the potato while the “top” is usually the pointy end. The goal here is to not submerge the whole potato. You can use toothpicks to create a makeshift barrier to stop the potatoes from submerging.
- Leave the potatoes undisturbed over the kitchen counter and change the water every 2-3 days.
- Once the sweet potatoes start to develop longer slips and roots, move them into a larger pot and continue caring for them until they begin to grow more sweet potatoes!
If the whole potatoes do not start to grow roots or sprout then cut them in half and submerge them halfway again – repeat the above steps until they sprout.
Sprouted sweet potatoes provide the same great flavor but with an additional crunchy texture! Now that you know all about eating sprouted sweet potatoes, here are some related questions:
Can sweet potato slips be eaten separately?
There is little culinary value in individual sweet potato slips. While they will still provide a mild flavor and a great crunchy texture, they are far more valuable as a growing crop. Just plant the slips in a pot and continue to grow them!
Can sweet potatoes sprout automatically?
Yes. Even stored sweet potatoes can sprout under the right conditions.
If you live in a humid environment and store the sweet potatoes in a dark and damp place then it is likely that they will sprout without the need for additional water after some time.
When this happens, you can either eat the sprouted sweet potatoes or nurture their growth by moving them into a pot.
Can sweet potatoes sprout in the fridge?
No. Sweet potatoes stored around 40-45°F will not sprout as the cold temperatures and lack of indirect sunlight will prevent them from sprouting.
The best way to store sweet potatoes is in a root cellar, away from heat sources.
This way the sweet potatoes will last a long time and even though they might sprout, they will still be fully edible and will also retain all of their natural flavors and texture.