Canning sweet potatoes (or yams, as they are also called) is a simple process that will allow you do enjoy them all year long. Canning yams makes them shelf stable so you can store them without a root cellar.
Let me show you how to can sweet potatoes and yams in a light syrup or in plain water.
Though we tend to grow our own sweet potatoes now, in years past I have been able to find great deals on organic sweet potatoes in bulk. Which is great, because we love eating them! Sweet potatoes are delicious, high in fiber, low on the glycemic index, and need nothing on them at all to be a tasty side dish.
We enjoy them baked with nothing (or a little butter) when we have them fresh on hand, but without a root cellar, we also need to can our sweet potatoes for eating later in the year.
No matter how you are sourcing your sweet potatoes, canning is a great way to make sure they are good all year long, especially when you don't have a root cellar.
While canning sweet potatoes does take longer to process per batch compared to canning carrots, it is worth it to have such a nutrient dense food available to us during the year.
Sweet potatoes sell for about $2 a pound in my area, and are often on sale during the holidays (usually up to 60% off the regular pricing). If you aren't growing your own sweet potatoes, I recommend planning to stock up in October and November for your canning efforts.
Canning Sweet Potatoes (Canning Yams)
The process for canning sweet potatoes is pretty straight-forward, you're going to peel and cut the vegetables, then cover them in either hot syrup or hot water, and process in a pressure canner for 1 and a half hours. Simple!
There are a few things you will want to decide on before getting started, so let's take a look at those now.
How Many Pounds of Sweet Potatoes Will You Need?
If you're anything like me, you may want to end up with a lot of canned sweet potatoes on your shelf. Before you go buying 100 pounds of sweet potatoes to can, let's figure out how many jars you actually want to eat or store for your family.
According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, you'll need about 2.5 pounds of sweet potatoes or yams per quart jar. However, if you are raw pack canning that number may be lower (see below for more information on raw pack canning).
In general, you can assume about 2 pounds of fresh yams per quart, or a little over 1 pound per pint jar. Once they are peeled, the number goes down to about 1 1/2 pounds per quart.
So, that 100 pounds of sweet potatoes will turn into about 50 quarts for your pantry!
Raw Pack or Hot Pack Canning Sweet Potatoes
Whenever possible, I prefer to raw pack vegetables as it removes an entire step in the canning process. However, for sweet potatoes hot pack canning may be the better choice.
Raw pack canning means that you would pack the freshly peeled and cut sweet potatoes without cooking them. This eliminates the need for an extra pot of water on the stove, and reduces your time requirements - which is great since the canning part of canning sweet potatoes is fairly long.
One possible downside to raw pack canning is that you aren't able to fill the jars quite as full since the sweet potatoes would still be fully firm and raw. You also end up with a much mushier texture in the finished product, since the sweet potatoes weren't cooked before canning and the canning process can cause a rapid expansion in the tissue of the sweet potatoes.
If your plan is to mash the canned sweet potatoes before eating, then raw pack canning might be perfect for you.
Hot pack canning involves cooking the sweet potatoes in the boiling water or steam for 10-15 minutes, then removing the skins before packing into your jars. The rest of the canning process is the same as raw pack canning. The upside is that you can pack more into the jars, and reduce the number of canning loads you might have to process - and you end up with a more firm texture.
Ultimately the decision is up to you. Raw and hot pack canning have their pros and cons, but in the end, either method will result in safely canned sweet potatoes!
Canning in Syrup or Water?
The last thing you'll need to decide on is whether or not you want to can your sweet potatoes in syrup or water. While canning in water is a healthier option, it's also one that will yield a rather bland finished product.
The sweet potatoes tend to release their sweetness into the water during canning, leaving the vegetables themselves very plain.
To combat this, we like to use a light syrup to mimic the sweetness naturally present in fresh sweet potatoes.
Making light syrup for canning:
- For a 7 Quart Canner batch ~ Mix 9 cups water and 2 1/4 cup sugar.
- For a 9 Pint Canner Batch ~ Mix 5 3/4 cups water and 1 1/2 cups sugar.
Or you can use anything from extra light syrup to heavy syrup for canning your sweet potatoes, just use these ratios for making your own syrup for canning. It's up to you!
Altitude Adjustments for Canning Sweet Potatoes
If you are canning at more than 1,000 feet you'll need to adjust your canning pressure. Here are the changes you will need to make depending on whether you’re using a weighted or dial gauge pressure canner.
I’m using an All American Pressure canner, which uses a weighted gauge, and I’m well below 1000 feet, so I can sweet potatoes at 10 pounds pressure, but I like to include the changes in case you are at a different elevation!
See the table below for altitude adjustments for canning sweet potatoes:
Home Canned Sweet Potatoes FAQ
Here are a few of the most common question I get about canning sweet potatoes at home!
Do I have to Use Syrup?
Nope! You can use just water instead, however, the sweet potatoes will be very bland with you use them later. We like to use a light syrup for the least amount of sugar that will retain the flavor of the sweet potatoes.
Can I Use Something Other Than Sugar?
Actually, yes! You can use honey instead at the following ratio.
To make light syrup with honey: Mix 1/2 cups of honey with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Increase at this ratio as needed. We use the same process for canning peaches in syrup.
Can I Use This Recipe for Yams?
Yep! Pressure canning yams and sweet potatoes are the same timings and method.
Are The Sweet Potatoes Mushy After Canning?
They have the same texture as boiled sweet potatoes, in my opinion.
So, they are not going to be the same texture as fresh baked sweet potatoes, but they are prefect for a quick side dish, for use in sweet potato casserole, blended soups, and so on.
>> If you're interested in even more tried and true pressure canning recipes, check out our Quick Start Guide to Pressure Canning!
How to Can Sweet Potatoes
- 14 pounds sweet potatoes or yams
- 2.25 cups sugar
- 9 cups water
For Raw Pack Canning
- Peel the sweet potatoes and rinse off excess dirt.
For Hot Pack Canning
- Boil or steam the sweet potatoes for 10-15 minutes and remove the skins.
Canning Sweet Potatoes
- Dice no more than 1 1/2 inches thick.
- Pack into hot, clean jars. Leave 1 inch headspace.
- Mix sugar and water in a large pot and bring to a boil.
- Ladle boiling syrup over sweet potatoes, leaving 1 inch headspace.
- Remove air bubbles with canning knife. DO NOT use a metal utensil as it can cause the jar to break under pressure.
- Add lids and rings.
- Process quarts for 1 hour and 30 minutes or pints for 1 hour 5 minutes, at 10 pounds pressure in a pressure canner. See altitude chart if you are above 1000 feet of elevation.