This year's sweet potatoes, and curing them

Discussion in 'The Green Patch' started by natshare, Nov 20, 2018.

  1. natshare

    natshare Monkey+++

    So it seems that 6 sweet potato plants, in a 100-gallon grow bag (48" diameter x 12" tall) was a pretty good ratio. I haven't weighed the exact amount I pulled out of the dirt, this past weekend, but it was enough sweet potatoes, to pretty much fill a box, 15" wide x 18" long x 12" tall. :eek:(y)

    Okay, so now that I've successfully grown the darn things, I have to find a way to "cure" them! Curing sweet potatoes turns the carbohydrates into sugars, and helps seal up any imperfections/cuts in them, and should be done in an area with 80 to 90 degree F heat, and 80 to 90 percent humidity. A cured sweet potato is typically good for ~4 to 6 months, stored at ~50 degrees Fahrenheit. So how am I going to accomplish this?

    Luckily, I had purchased a small pop-up "greenhouse", a couple years ago, that seemed custom made for this purpose. So I set it up in my storage area inside the house, lined the bottom with a couple of cheap terrycloth towels, and set up a small ceramic heater, and a jar with water. I suspended a hand towel from the top of the enclosure, with the end in the jar, so it would wick the water up, where the hot air blowing from the heater will blow across it, increasing the humidity inside the tent. Added a combination thermometer/hygrometer, and put the harvested sweet potatoes inside, after giving them a brush with a soft bristle brush, to remove most of the dirt.

    It's been 3 days now, and everything seems to be working perfectly! Knock on wood, to keep from jinxing it, of course!! :rolleyes::LOL: The heater thermostat is set to maintain the temperature, and the humidity is sitting right where I needed it. (y)

    Figured I'd share the idea here, in case anyone else has considered growing some sweets. Everything I've read, about curing them, says to keep them this way for 5-6 days, so I figure come Friday morning, I'll kill the power to the heater, and allow the tent to cool back down to room temperature. Then comes the challenge, on how to store them in the best temperature, so they'll last long enough for me to eat them all! :whistle::ROFLMAO:

    swpot1. swpot2. swpot3.
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  2. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor Site Supporter+

    Sounds like you pretty much have a plan. Let us know how it all turns out.
    Zimmy, natshare, Hanzo and 2 others like this.
  3. SB21

    SB21 Monkey+++

    My grandparents used to just wash them , carefully place them in a basket so they don't get bruised and have air move thru them , and kept them in an outdoor shaded shed on a concrete floor. They kept their sweet taters and red taters . 'Course you may not have that shed. A basement may work.
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  4. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    Great harvest. You had better success then I did at growing sweet potatoes.
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  5. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    We grow a few bushels every year. Covington is our current favorite variety for orange color and great taste. We cure ours on wood/wire racks in the greenhouse, then move to the basement or root cellar. By the way, they will store a year easy....still have potatoes from last year, though many have sprouts.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Brokor, Dunerunner, oldman11 and 4 others like this.
  6. natshare

    natshare Monkey+++

    Yeah, sadly, in Texas (in an area with a high water table), no basement, or storm cellar. Was actually wondering how high one could adjust the thermostat, on a small refrigerator, to maintain that 50-60 degree temp....and what the energy cost would be, to do so?

    Then it occurred to cooling fridge. Just about perfect, with temperature control from 40 to 60 degrees, like this one:

    Guess I'll peruse the local want ads, and Craigslist.
    oldman11 likes this.
  7. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    Far cheaper than a wine fridge, and more versatile, as you can turn any freezer into a fridge unit (we do so with an 18cf upright freezer to hold chickens over night at fridge temps before cutting up/bagging/freezing.....or when making brine cured hams or bacon and the crock needs to stay in the 35-40 degree range for a couple weeks) is a thermostat unit like this;


    You plug this unit in the wall, plug your freezer into the 'cool' outlet (has uses for the heat outlet as well if you need well controlled heat up to 1100w......say a light bulb in a well house to prevent freezing for example) and it shuts off power to the freezer when the set temp is reached.....and at 50-60 degrees, the freezer won't hardly ever run.
  8. SB21

    SB21 Monkey+++

    Now that's a cool little gadget there. Never seen one of them. (y)
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  9. Dont

    Dont Just another old gray Jarhead Monkey Site Supporter+++

    That could very well be used for temperature control for curing hanging meat as well.
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  10. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member I said, lot of uses for it, making it way more versatile than a wine fridge. If you want an ULTRA-low electric fridge (say in a limited electric supply situation), plug one on a small chest freezer and make it a refrigerator.....100watt/hr day unit versus 10 times that on even a small dorm type fridge.
  11. natshare

    natshare Monkey+++

    Thanks, TnAndy. Will definitely check it out. I would still need a small freezer, but could probably find a used one of those, cheaper than a wine chiller unit. :whistle:

    So the sweets came out of the curing "room" this morning. I actually turned off the heater yesterday, and let the enclosure air out. Definitely didn't want to be in that room, for a while, as the humidity peaked pretty quickly, with the door open on the enclosure! :LOL:

    Here's the end result. Seems as though the bigger potatoes seemed to do better than the small ones. I'll probably take one of the little ones, later today (for dinner), and heat it up in the oven, to see how it tastes. Got some squash that need cooking, too, so adding a small item to that cooking tray won't be a big deal.

    I included the tape measure on the first pic, to give you an idea of just how enormous some of these things turned out to be! Like I said, I'll likely be eating sweet potatoes, all winter long....and still have some left over, for seeding! 2nd and 3rd photos are taken at right angles, to give you a better idea of the bountiful harvest. (y)

    Sweet Potatoes 1. Sweet Potatoes 2. Sweet Potatoes 3.
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  12. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

  13. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    Nice spud... You must have soil where you live. I have lots of nutrient free sand... :(
  14. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    As a cigar aficionado, I can tell you not to use a fridge since they remove moisture. But, if you really had to, pop a tray of water at the bottom to keep it humid inside. You will have to play with it a bit to get it to work, and a hygrometer will come in handy. I would aim for 85-90 RH and not much higher for taters. Any higher and you risk moisture developing and rot to set in, and any lower and you've got dried out taters. Keep an eye out for mold and rot as time goes by. A "wineador", or wine cooler is great, but can be costly. Craig's List may be your best friend. Any thermoelectric cooling system will help maintain relative humidity, but be aware that in some climates it's hard to make them cool effectively. You could also make your own thermoelectric unit with a little research, as the parts are available readily enough and are mostly inexpensive. Maintaining such a high level of humidity would be very tricky, and I have never even tried it with a wine cooler or cigar cooler before. I can attest that up in the north, they work well for me at maintaining 70RH with little effort. Personally, (just brainstorming here) I would try using 12 count Boveda 84% seasoning packs. This would cut down on upkeep and maintain an absolute RH at 84%, but it will cost around $50 and it's still a little low humidity-wise. To help keep the packs full for a much longer period of time, I would add a container of humidification gel beads (Heartfelt are the best you will ever find) and this will probably give you a year's worth of humidification before you will have to replace the Boveda packs. You may also recharge them in a bowl of distilled water, but they are not always quite as effective as new packs in my estimation.

    The reasons why a thermoelectric wine/cigar cooler would be great, are because they circulate air readily and do not remove moisture from inside the unit. If you could find a way to maintain humidity at high levels (85% roughly for potatoes) and supply constant power, it might just work out!
    natshare likes this.
  15. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    No, actually it was pretty crappy soil....clay and shale mix. I cleared a spot below the house for new garden space in 2012 and the only advantage it had over the other garden space was almost no rocks....even though it was just a rock's throw from the other garden !

    Sweet potatoes actually don't do well in rich soil....all goes to tops instead of the potato. Over the last 6 years, I've added 40 tons of sand, lot of manures and a cover crop each winter plowed under in spring. Soil is starting to look better, but it's been an uphill fight.

    2013 or so


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