Storing Potatoes

I got a question yesterday from Kathy about keeping her potatoes fresh longer. Potatoes are not the most expensive vegetable out there but that doesn’t mean we want to waste them.  Still, we tend to buy them in pretty big bags and its frustrating to go to get a couple for dinner and find them shriveled or green and sprouting. Potatoes need a combination of a cool and moist environment. They keep best around 40-50 degrees which can best be achieved in a cellar. I know plenty of people who keep them in the fridge. Refrigerators are a little too cool for potatoes. They’ll look fine but tend to get dark when you cook them. Edible, but not pretty. Its because when potatoes are stored too cool they get sweeter- the increased sugar causes darkening- sugar burns. If you have your spuds in the fridge all hope is not lost. Take them out and keep them at  normal room temps for a week and they should be fine.

Also because potatoes give off ethylene gas they will cause other fruits and veggies to ripen too quickly so store them by themselves.  You can keep them in a bin, but make sure there is some ventilation. Excess moisture will also cause them to rot or sprout. A box with a few vent holes on the top is perfect. You can also keep them in paper bags. Avoid keeping them in plastic bags with no ventilation- that will also cause them to rot.  For short-term storage it does not matter that much- but for longer- term follow the guidelines discussed here.

Now for green potatoes- potatoes exposed to sunlight will turn green. The green parts are toxic!!!!!    If it is a small portion cut it off- for a really green potato- throw it away.

I can here the questions already. What if I don’t have a cellar? For folks without a cellar the obvious answer is to buy fewer potatoes and use them up quickly. If you find yourself with a lot of potatoes and no place to optimally store them they can be  dried in a dehydrator. They have to be sliced and cooked first or they’ll turn black. But what if you don’t have a dehydrator?

If there are no other options you can cook the potatoes, either boiling or baking them, and mash them up and freeze them for later use. When you defrost them you can heat them up and add butter, milk or whatever you like in mashed potatoes. I found myself with a lot of potatoes one time and was living in an apartment. Since I didn’t have a lot of options I baked them, scooped out the filling- added cheese and seasonings and butter and spooned the filling back into the skins. Basically a twice- baked potato. I wrapped them individually and froze them. When I wanted one I would cook it in the microwave. Not perfect- but not bad.

Well Kathy, I hope that helped.

The challenge is going fine. I don’t miss the grocery store yet, but in all fairness its only been a week. I still have fresh veggies and fruits. People survived for centuries in cold climates by storing foods and making do. I am almost looking forward to later on as I have to get inventive- although not looking forward to running out of some foods. Some of you will be getting dinner invites in the coming weeks. That will be interesting.

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