Sweet potatoes already last a relatively long time. If I were to sous vide a sweet potato until everything inside of it is dead, let's say at 215°F for 24 hours, I should have a sterile potato on my hands. If I then place the vacuum sealed potato into a mylar bag and vacuum seal that bag as well, have I created an infinite shelf-life potato?

Natural decomposition may occur, but for how long will it be safe to eat (though disgusting) if stored in the pantry? What about other foods, like beef? Once all of the micro-organisms have been eliminated, what will make me sick?

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    Since water boils (at sea level) at 212°F, how are you going to get them up to 215? Sous Vide (at least the ones I have) aren't great at boiling water, and typically don't go above that. If you want an "infinite life potato", might want to look at freeze drying and vacuum sealing. And speaking from experience, if you souse vide meat for too long, it is very unappealing texture wise.
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 20:58
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    Do not do this! This is not how sous vide works. You still have to be wary of spore forming pathogens that can survive cooking temperatures and times, and as @RonBeyer points out, you can't get to 215F (which is sort of besides the point). Read this: douglasbaldwin.com/sous-vide.html
    – moscafj
    Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 21:19
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    Irradiation is the closest thing to the technology you appear to want. Have fun trying to get that set up at home. Not to mention the lack of consumer comfort with the technology if you set up on a larger scale. As the B52's sang: "Irradiate, and keep it fresh forever"
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 23:38

1 Answer 1


No, you most certainly haven't.

First off - boiling water is not sufficient to sterilize it. Even if you could raise the water to your 215 F (101 C) point (unless you live beside the Dead Sea you won't be able to) For sterilization of solid and liquid substances usually this is done with temperatures between 121 C (250 F) and 132 C (270 F) for times between 30 and 60 minutes. The only way you can achieve this with substances that contain water (e.g. your sweet potato) is to raise the pressure in the surrounding container so that the boiling point of water is raised to the temperatures above.

The risk you run with your idea is that (as noted in comment by @RonBeyer)) is that endospore-forming bacteria and fungal species are generally not killed by heating water to it's boiling point. You may reduce the numbers of bacteria present, but you can't generally eliminate them. These bacteria can then exit their endospore phase and start growing. Once they grow, they will spoil your food and potentially make you very sick if you were to eat it. Endospore forming bacteria include some of the more significant human pathogens such as Bacillus anthracis (anthrax) and Clostridium species (colitis (C. difficile), relevant to food poisoning: (C. perfringens), and tetanus (C. tetani)). None of which you want to get!

However, even autoclaving isn't sufficient to kill all bacterial species (see my answer on the Biology SE), but most of these highly resistant species are not pathogens that we know of. However, one of the more resistant genera Desulfotomaculum is a soil bacterium (where sweet potato grow...) and a significant spoiler of canned foods.

Long story short: DON'T DO IT!

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