Compared to other fruits and vegetables, potatoes stay on the kitchen counter longer, but eventually, they develop green shoots and lose part of their freshness and flavor. They’ll stay fresh for weeks or even months if you know how to store them. All you need is a cardboard box, a paper bag, a mesh bag, or a basket to store them so they’ll stay fresh longer. When stored properly, your potatoes will last for four to six months.
Potatoes should be kept in the dark, relaxed environment to maintain freshness. They should be held at 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit in a cold, dark environment. Keep them away from the stove and the top of the refrigerator. Both heat and cold can transform their starch into sugar, causing them to deteriorate. So staying away from these extremes is the best method to store potatoes. Here are some pointers for getting your potatoes the best flavor, taste, and texture.
What are Potatoes?
Potatoes are the tubers (giant underground storage stems) of the Andean nightshade plant Solanum tuberosum, which has been domesticated for nearly 8,000 years. The potato plant, related to tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers, also produces flowers, leaves, and venomous berries.
Harvesting mature potatoes involve destroying the plant’s above-ground portion and burying the potatoes for a few weeks to thicken their skins. A common starch that may be kept at room temperature in your house for regular use is potato starch. But there are several ways to stop them from deteriorating quickly.
The Best Ways to Store Potatoes
Finding a suitable storage location and preparing the tubers for storage are necessary steps after harvesting your potato crop. To prepare and preserve potatoes, take the following actions:
Step 1: Sort the Potatoes
- Sort your potatoes according to type. Sorting by variety will make it simple to identify the potatoes that have a shorter storage life and use these first because some types of potatoes will last longer in storage than others.
- Dark Red nor land and Kennebec potatoes are the two types, and Kennebec keeps for up to six months in storage. We eat the red potatoes first because the Dark Red Norland frequently starts to soften and sprout after several months.
- Look over the potatoes carefully as you sort them, and remove those with bruising or other damage indicators. Immediately separate and use any tubers with broken skin, fissures, or soft areas as they won’t store well.
- Because they will taste unpleasant and could perhaps make you sick if consumed in excessive quantities, green potatoes should be thrown away. Small spots can be removed, but if the potato has extensive greening, discard it.
Step 2: Cure the Potatoes
- Your potatoes will last longer in storage if you cure them since it will toughen up the skin and aid in healing minor wounds. Arrange the unwashed tubers in a single layer in shallow boxes or seedling trays lined with newspaper to cure your potatoes.
- Cover the trays with a dark towel to keep out light while allowing air to circulate. Let the potatoes sit in a 50 to 60 °F environment for a few weeks to cure.
- A single layer of potatoes curing on seedling trays
Step 3: Identify an Area Suitable for Storing Potatoes
Find a place in your house to hold the potatoes while fixing. The ideal temperature range for storing potatoes is between 45 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit (7 and 10 degrees Celsius). The relative humidity should be around 95% to prevent the tubers from drying. Potatoes should be kept in a location that is:
Keep potatoes in a shaded area. When chlorophyll is exposed to light, it is drawn to the surface and converted to solanine. While solanine gives potatoes a bitter taste and can be harmful if consumed significantly, chlorophyll turns the tuber green.
Even after being harvested, potatoes are still alive and continue to breathe. For them to use oxygen and release carbon dioxide while being stored, they must be kept in a location with excellent air circulation. In places with little or no airflow, a modest fan will do.
Keeping potatoes cold prevents the growth of pathogens that might otherwise ruin the tubers. The ideal range is between 45 and 50 °F (7 and 10 °C). The potatoes’ starch will change to sugar if the temperature is too low, darkening the tubers. The potatoes will begin to sprout as a result of higher temperatures.
Because potatoes are 80% water, they must be stored in a moist environment to avoid drying out. The ideal humidity level is 95%, but most household environments might not be able to achieve this. You can raise the humidity by placing sizable water pans next to your air source or utilizing a humidifier.
A spare closet shed, crawlspace, or unheated basement are recommended for house storage. Any location you decide on needs to be insulated to keep the potatoes from freezing.
If your storage space isn’t ideal, don’t stress. You may still store your potatoes for a while even if you don’t have the optimum storage conditions as long as it is reasonably calm and stays above freezing. It is worthwhile to experiment to find out how long your potatoes last in your particular storage circumstances.
Step 4: Put The Potatoes in Bags
- After curing, store the potatoes in covered boxes or bins with a few ventilation holes in a dark place. Before packing, avoid washing the potatoes because the moisture will encourage mildew and shorten their storage life.
- I keep my potatoes in cardboard boxes with recycled paper from bills and other paperwork. I make a few air vent holes in the sides of the boxes, add a layer of shredded paper, and then spread out the potatoes. I then top the potatoes with more shredded paper until the package is complete.
Stuffing the Boxes with Shredded Paper and the Potatoes
- Brush any remaining dirt off your potatoes as you box them up, and then give them one last look. Tubers that are too small or damaged should be separated and consumed immediately.
- When the cardboard box is full, cover it, label it, and store it somewhere cool and dark. Once more, potatoes should be held at 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (7 to 10 degrees Celsius) and 80 to 90 percent relative humidity. Depending on the type, potatoes can stay in storage for 4 to 9 months.
- Bananas, onions, and other fruits should not be stored together with potatoes. These emit ethylene gas, which might trigger early sprouting in your potatoes.
- Two paper cartons with potatoes inside that are prepared for storage
Step 5: Examine the Potatoes in Storage
- Look through the cartons every few weeks to eliminate any rotting potatoes. Usually, you can tell if there is one in the package by the aroma. Look into the box to stop the rotting potato if you detect a musty, sour, dirt smell before it spreads to the other potatoes.
- So that you can monitor any temperature variations, keep a thermometer close by the potatoes. The sprouting process will be slowed by maintaining the potatoes cool, but eventually, little sprouts will appear. If the potatoes are still firm, they can be eaten; cut away the shoots before cooking.
- If storage temperatures go below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, potatoes may taste sweet, and the starches are triggered to transform into sugars by the cold temperature. When roasted or fried, the sugar may help the potatoes brown evenly, but too much sweetness can alter the flavor. Fortunately, you may stop this process from happening by relocating the tubers to a little warmer spot for a few weeks before utilizing them in your recipes.
- Green potato skin should be removed. Throw away the potato if the green has gotten inside. The possibility of infecting your family is not worth it.
- Potatoes can stay fresh for three to six months or more when stored properly. Ours frequently don’t start sprouting until the following spring. As long as the sprouted potatoes appear healthy and the previous season was free of disease, they can be planted in the spring.
- That concludes your quick start manual for storing potatoes for the winter. The most crucial thing to remember is that potatoes keep best in an atmosphere that is well-ventilated, chilly, dark, and humid.
Don’t Wash Before Storing
- Because potatoes are grown underground, their skins frequently have dirt on them.
- Although cleaning the dirt before storing it may be tempting, keeping them dry can help them last longer.
- This is so because washing adds moisture, which encourages the development of germs and fungus.
- When ready to use them, give them a thorough rinse and scrub with a vegetable brush to get rid of any dirt that may still be on them.
- Rinsing with a 10% vinegar or salt solution can remove more than twice as much residue as water alone if pesticides are a problem.
The Three Signs Your Potatoes are Bad
Even after being removed from the plant, potatoes continue to photosynthesize. The potatoes may rot due to the carbon dioxide and moisture released during photosynthetic activity. Here are some indicators that the potatoes you have are past their prime.
1. Skin Imperfections
Your potatoes have gone rotten if their skin exhibits discoloration, such as blemishes, soft areas, or emerging mold. As potatoes accumulate sugar to seed new plants, they also start sprout buds on their skin’s surface. Even though you may safely remove the sprouts and cook the remaining potatoes, many individuals choose not to consume potatoes that have sprouted.
2. Texture with Folds
In contrast to their typically hard texture, spuds past their prime may seem wrinkled and flexible.
3. The Hue Green
The several potato types come in a wide range of hues, including red, purple, golden, and white; however, green potatoes should not be consumed. When eaten, these potatoes have a harsh flavor.
How to Store Potatoes at Room Temperature?
Your potatoes would thrive in an area between 45 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit, such as an unheated basement, a cool pantry, or a garage (7 to 13 degrees C). If not, you’ll generally need to keep with standard room temperature.
To promote good air circulation, keeping them loosely covered in a paper bag, mesh bag, or cardboard box when storing is preferable. If you have onions nearby that may be preserved, keep them away from them as the moisture from the potatoes can hasten the deterioration of the onions.
How Long do Potatoes Last in the Refrigerator?
Although it has already been established that storing potatoes in the refrigerator is not recommended, there are occasions when there is no other choice. You might wish to keep your potatoes in the fridge for various reasons, including a lack of cabinet space and hot or muggy weather.
The potatoes will keep in the refrigerator for three to four weeks if you decide to do so, though cooking them could result in them tasting sweeter.
Potatoes can be prepared in advance by peeling, slicing, or both. Cut raw potatoes should be chilled and kept in a bowl of cold water, valid for the following 24 hours.
Finally, cooked potatoes will stay in the fridge for three to four days, just like most leftovers.
How do Farmers Store Potatoes?
Avoid high temperatures, such as those found below sinks or near appliances, and store potatoes in a cool, dark, well-ventilated area. Make sure your potatoes have access to air—store either loosely or in pierced plastic or paper bags. Before storing, don’t wash the potatoes because moisture will cause early deterioration.
Can Potatoes be Stored in an Airtight Container?
Potatoes Should Not Be Kept in Sealed Containers
Avoid using closed containers, such as airtight storage containers or resealable plastic bags, since they will retain moisture, causing the potatoes to mold and degrade more quickly. The ideal pot storage containers are paper bags, open bowls, and baskets.
Keeping your potatoes in a garage is an excellent option if you live somewhere that doesn’t get very chilly. The garage is not the ideal location for keeping potatoes, though, if you reside in a region that experiences extreme cold. The tubers must be held at 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent sprouting or splitting. They can be kept in a cardboard box as well. Containers made of cardboard shield them from light while allowing air to flow.