Potatoes last longer on the kitchen counter than most fruits and vegetables, but eventually, they start to sprout green shoots and lose some of their freshness and flavor. If you know how to store them properly, they'll stay fresh weeks, or possibly even months, longer.
All you need to store them so they'll stay fresh longer is a cardboard box, a paper or mesh bag, or a basket. Your potatoes will last four to six months when properly stored.
This is an easy process, but it should be followed precisely for best results.
- Inspect all the potatoes for soft spots, sprouts, mold, shovel damage, and pest damage. Only perfect potatoes are suitable for long-term storage.
- Place the potatoes in a cardboard box, paper bag, mesh bag, or basket to ensure good ventilation. Plastic bags won't allow them to breathe and will shorten their shelf life considerably, so remove them from a plastic bag if you've brought them home in one.
- Store your potatoes in a cool, humid, and dark place (45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature range). If you have an unheated basement, that's a perfect spot for your potatoes. An insulated garage or shed might also work during the winter. Never store potatoes in the fridge. The too-cold temperature turns the potato starch into sugar.
- Check on your potatoes regularly and remove any that are soft, shriveled, or sprouted so they don't cause more potatoes to go bad. (Even if your potatoes have sprouted, they are still safe to eat as long as they are firm to the touch and are not shriveled.)
Additional Storage Tips
There's lots more to know about storing potatoes. Keep all these tips in mind:
- If your potatoes are homegrown, allow them to cure before you store them.
- Do not wash potatoes until you are ready to use them.
- Keep your potatoes away from other produce to prevent flavor transfer and premature ripening. It's especially important to keep your potatoes away from onions. They both release gases that ripen the other one. This makes that combo potato and onion storage box an all-around bad idea.
- If you haven't bought or grown your potatoes yet, pick potatoes that are known to store well. Some potatoes just hold up in storage better than others. Here are some good "keeping" potatoes to consider growing or buying.
Follow these tips to keep your potatoes from sprouting prematurely.
- If you grow your own potatoes, it's especially important to store them properly. Store-bought potatoes are usually sprayed with growth inhibitors that slow down their sprouting. Your potatoes won't have that advantage (though most gardeners would say that's no advantage at all).
- Aim to store no more potatoes than you can use during the fall and winter. Once spring arrives, those potatoes are going to start sprouting. Of course, if you're a gardener, sprouted potatoes aren't a problem at all. Just cut your potatoes up so there's an eye on each piece; allow them to harden off and then plant them in your garden. If you're growing varieties that you love, this is a great way to keep them going year after year, without any added expense.