Potatoes are a basic staple in today’s kitchens, and it is easy to understand why.
After all, they are a very versatile food that you can find tons of uses for, and they also have a lot of nutritional value.
To top it all off, there are many different kinds of potatoes to enjoy and they are an inexpensive vegetable to boot.
Most people love this food, and if you’re curious about how to store potatoes so they last as long as possible, not to worry because once you learn a few basics, you’ll be able to keep your potatoes around much longer.
What is the Best Way to Store Potatoes at Home?
Compared to most fruits and vegetables, potatoes last longer when sitting on your countertop, which makes potato storage much easier than most people realize.
If you want to know how to store potatoes long term, consider keeping potatoes in a cardboard box, a basket, or in a paper or mesh bag can keep them around much longer, but you can’t just shove them in there and forget about them.
Indeed, if you know just what to do and how to do it, it’s even possible for potatoes to last for several months.
Proper storage of raw whole potatoes requires the fulfilment of three conditions:
- Cool temperatures: the temperatures should be between 45 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit, that is, cooler than room temperature but warmer than the fridge temperature (room temperature ranges between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, while fridge temperature is about 40 degrees Fahrenheit). Warmer temperatures hasten the rotting of potatoes while very cold temperatures make the potatoes sweeter.
- Humidity: potatoes should be stored in an area with humidity levels of about 95%. Too dry conditions cause potatoes to dry out, lose their moisture and eventually shrivel.
- Darkness: potatoes should be stored in a dark area and not exposed to sunlight. Exposure to sunlight causes a chemical reaction in the potatoes that causes the potatoes’ skin to turn green. Potatoes with green skins are bitter in taste and toxic.
Given these three conditions, the most ideal places to store potatoes at home are a root cellar, a cool basement and a cool garage.
However, how many homes have access to these facilities? Very few!
The other alternatives are storing potatoes in the pantry or in a kitchen cabinet. Just make sure that the area does not have moisture or access to sunlight.
How to Store Raw Whole Potatoes
Raw, whole potatoes can be stored using the following procedure:
- Ensure that the potatoes to be stored are in good condition (no sprouts, no green skin, no molds and no shriveling)
- Select the potato storage container of your choice
- Depending on the size of the container and the quantity of the potatoes, you can lay the potatoes in a single layer on a flat but raised surface (for instance, a baking tray lined with a baking sheet to ensure that air circulates beneath the potatoes) and keep them in a kitchen cabinet or pantry, making sure that the place is dark, cool and away from moisture.
- Alternatively, use wicker baskets, bins, paper bags, and cardboard boxes that are perforated to ensure that air is circulating properly.
- Cover these storage containers with newspapers to keep light away from the potatoes.
- Store them either in the kitchen cabinet or pantry.
- Keep checking the potatoes regularly and remove the ones that have signs of going bad from the stock.
How to Store Cut or Peeled Potatoes
If you intend to use the cut/peeled potatoes within a day:
- Put some cold water in a bowl, enough to cover the potatoes.
- Pour a splash of white vinegar or lemon/lime juice into the water and stir to distribute the acid evenly.
- Put the potatoes in the bowl of water, making sure all the potatoes are fully submerged in the water. This helps prevent the potatoes from browning.
- Keep the bowl in the fridge.
- Use the potatoes within 24 hours. If they stay any longer the potatoes will absorb the water and become soggy.
If the cut/peeled potatoes are too much and cannot be used up within a day, blanch them then freeze them using the following procedure:
- Put a pot of water to boil
- Put the peeled/cut potatoes in the pot
- Let the potatoes boil for 3-5 minutes (the length of time depends on the quantity of the potatoes)
- Test the readiness of the potatoes with a knife. The potatoes should be soft but not fully cooked
- Remove the potatoes from the heat and put in a bucket or bowl of cold (or iced) water to stop them from cooking any further
- Lay the potatoes on a flat surface covered with kitchen towel in a single layer to allow them to dry up completely
- Put the dry blanched potatoes in a zip lock freezer bags making sure that no air gets in. Better still use vacuum sealer to remove the air completely.
- It is advisable to store the potatoes in the freezer in small batches and use them as and when needed. It is also advisable to write the dates the potatoes were frozen and use the batches that were frozen earlier first.
Do’s and Don’t’s of Potato Storage
Do: separate the good potatoes from the bad potatoes before storage. Bad potatoes are potatoes that have sprouts or green skins, are shriveled or have started decaying by growing molds. Some bad potatoes, such as those with sprouts and green skins, can be eaten immediately by removing the sprouts and the green skins before cooking. Shriveled and moldy potatoes should be thrown away.
Do: inspect the stored potatoes every once in a week to ensure that some potatoes that have started going bad are removed from the rest of the potatoes. One bad potato is enough to make the entire stock of potatoes bad.
Don’t: store your potatoes in a plastic bag. Besides being an environmental hazard, plastic bags trap the moisture produced by the potatoes, which in turn causes them to rot faster.
Don’t: store your raw whole potatoes in the fridge or freezer. The very cold temperatures will convert the starch in the potatoes into sugar, thereby making the potatoes acquire a sweet taste when cooked.
Don’t: wash your potatoes before storage. This is a big no! Washing raw whole potatoes before storing increases their moisture level, which in turn creates a conducive environment for the growth of microbes, which cause the potatoes to rot.
Don’t: store potatoes with other fruits and vegetables like bananas, apples, avocados and tomatoes. The reason is that these fruits and vegetables emit ethylene gas, which is responsible for their ripening, and eventual rotting.
Special Note on Storing Potatoes from the Garden
There are some special rules for home-grown potatoes that you should know before you go any further.
When you see potatoes in the grocery store, they are usually sprayed with some type of inhibitor that delays the sprouting process.
Since this isn’t true with potatoes you grow yourself, you should always let the potatoes “cure” before you decide to store them away for a while.
Curing potatoes entails laying them on a flat surface lined with newspaper and keeping them in warmer temperatures for about two weeks until the skin on the potatoes thickens.
Once cured, the potatoes can be stored as discussed above.
With both store-bought and home-grown potatoes, as long as you store them properly and store them before they start sprouting – which is a sign that they’re starting to go bad – they can last up to four to five months or so.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Storing Potatoes
Q: Should potatoes and onions be stored together?
A: The simple answer is No! The main reason why potatoes and onions should not be stored together is because both release moisture and build up of moisture especially in a place that is not well ventilated will hasten the rotting of the vegetables.
Q: How do you store potatoes so they don’t sprout?
A: The key is to store the potatoes before they start to sprout. If you do this and if you store them in the right location and at the right temperature, you can enjoy them for another four to five months. Learning how to keep potatoes from sprouting means learning just when to store them away – and that always means storing these veggies before they actually start to sprout.
Q: Should potatoes be stored in the fridge?
A: No, never. The temperature in the refrigerator is simply too cold for the potatoes to survive, and the coldness will quickly turn the starch in the potatoes into sugar. So if you’re researching how to store potatoes in the fridge or how to store potatoes in the freezer – stop where you are because it won’t work.
Q: Can potatoes go bad?
A: Potatoes will eventually go bad. Even storing them correctly will just delay the inevitable, so if you’ve ever asked yourself, how long do potatoes last, just know that four to five months is the longest you’ll be able to keep your potatoes fresh and edible, even though this is a pretty long time.
Q: Does it matter what you store them in?
A: Yes, it does. The right potato bag for storage purposes is important, so again, choose either a basket, paper bag, mesh bag, or even a cardboard box if no bags are available. Never use plastic bags because they will start to sprout quickly and therefore you won’t be able to store them away properly.
Final Thoughts on How to Store Potatoes
Although potatoes don’t last forever, you can make them last months longer than they would otherwise if you remove the ones that aren’t perfect, store those potatoes in the right type of container, and store them in a cool, dark, dry place such as the basement or an insulated garage. If you’re wondering, how long can potatoes be stored before they go bad, just know that you can easily go weeks or even months if you know just what you’re doing.
One other interesting note: not only does storing potatoes at a temperature just a tad above the temperature in your refrigerator make these vegetables last a lot longer, but it also helps to maintain the vitamin C content in the potatoes, which is a huge perk.
Like with all other perishable goods, potatoes will eventually go bad at which point you may discard them or better still compost them using a kitchen compost bin. Composting potatoes that have gone bad not only helps you reduce kitchen waste but it’s also a great way of turning waste into something more useful.
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