Is Eating Pithy Sweet Potato An Issue? (Answered)

Pithy Sweet Potato
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Pithy Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes are a great option if you are trying to increase the number of vegetables your family consumes. Because they’re sweet and soft-textured, most kids will eat them with gusto.

You get to sit back and enjoy the fact that they’re taking in lots of nutrients like:

  • Ten times more vitamin A than white potatoes
  • Carotenoids for healthy eyes and preventing heart disease
  • Plenty of fiber and no fat
  • Nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, manganese, B vitamins, and some vitamin E

Sweet potatoes are available all year round in most places and keep fairly well. As they age, they can tend to go hollow and “pithy” and some people wonder if they should be thrown out at this point.

Read on and we’ll tell you all about this issue, as well as how to store sweet potatoes correctly to stop this pithiness from developing.

Is Eating Pithy Sweet Potato An Issue?

What Causes Sweet Potatoes to Become Pithy?

Pithy sweet potatoes are usually ones that have been harvested too late. As they age, they become hollow and start to lose flavor.

Storing them at home for too long can cause this, although in this case, they normally sprout, discolor, and begin to develop dark spots. Eventually, they turn soft and rot.

Dark spots on sweet potato
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How to Choose Sweet Potatoes So They’re Not Pithy

  • Check the sell-by date on the pack. Although sweet potatoes are available all year round, they are at their best between October and January.
  • Avoid any that have begun sprouting or have bruises or discolorations on the skin.

Sprouting sweet potato
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  • Hold them in your hands and check the weight. They should feel heavy for their size. If they feel light, they are probably pithy and hollow.
  • Look at the pointed ends because this is what tends to show the sweet potatoes’ age first. The ends start to soften and shrivel when they’re old. Look for ends that are firm and fresh-looking. They should have no green sprouts on them.
  • Buy locally if possible. Your local farmer’s market is probably the best place to find freshly harvested, peak-of-perfection, reasonably priced sweet potatoes or any fresh produce, for that matter.

Fresh sweet potato
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  • Pick small to medium-sized tubers. Although big ones may look impressive, these are the ones that are more likely to be pithy and hollow inside.

How to Store Sweet Potatoes

If you’ve had a big sweet potato harvest from your vegetable garden or have managed to find a bulk bargain at the store, you’ll want to know how to store them correctly.

Stored properly, sweet potatoes can last for months without sprouting or becoming pithy.

Don’t wash them until they are going to be used as dampness encourages fungal growth and rotting. Pack them into cardboard boxes, baskets, or wrap them individually in newspaper.

Sweet potato in boxes
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Store them in a cool, dark place – ideally between 12 and 15˚C. It’s best not to store them in the fridge for more than a few days as they can get a cold injury

Once stored, check your sweet potatoes regularly for mold. Remove any that look mildewy so that they don’t infect those around them.

How to Use Pithy Sweet Potatoes

There is no need to throw away pithy, hollow sweet potatoes. As long as you cut out any bad spots, they are safe to use and will not make you sick.

They will not be as flavorful as fresher ones though. We suggest you make them into mash and season them well. Add plenty of butter and milk. Use them to top cottage pie or serve them with meat and gravy.

Mashed sweet potato
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Other Ways to Enjoy Sweet Potatoes

  • Cook them in their jackets. You can either do this in the microwave (prick them all over first) or by baking them in the oven. They can be wrapped in foil and cooked on the barbeque too. Baked jacket sweet potatoes are best served simply with a dollop of butter and perhaps a little sweet chili sauce.

  • Make them into oven fries. You can leave the skins on here too. Cut the potatoes into wedges, toss them in a little olive oil, then lay them in a single layer on a baking tray. Season as you like – we enjoy salt and a few chili flakes. Bake them until golden, soft, and sticky. This makes an easy, healthy, delicious snack.

Sweet potato fries
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  • Make them into mash or make a mash of half regular potatoes and half sweet potatoes. This pairs especially well with lamb.

  • Roast cubed sweet potatoes with other vegetables such as sweet peppers, onions, and butternut squash for a delicious side dish.

Roasted sweet potato
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  • Add them to soups and stews.

Sweet potato soup
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To Conclude

We hope this article has set your mind at rest about using up your pithy sweet potatoes. Provided they haven’t become soft and bad, they can safely be eaten.

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