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Learning how to store potatoes long term or short term can help you take advantage of great deals at your local store or farmers market. But also keep potatoes harvested from your garden overwinter letting you enjoy the taste of your favorite homegrown potatoes for months.
Potatoes are one of those vegetables that I have to keep on hand at all times. While you might not think potatoes are anything special they are a wonderful storage vegetable that is cheap to buy or grow and can be used in so many recipes.
Whether you love Russets, Yukon Golds, or reds it doesn’t take much work to turn potatoes into a delicious dish.
But you need to take a few simple steps to make sure they are last well so they don’t sprout or go bad in storage.
How Long Can You Store Potatoes?
Potatoes are one of the best storage crops you can keep. With proper storage conditions, they can store up to 7 months. But many things factor into this from the temperature and humidity to the variety of potato you have grown.
Select Potato Varieties That Are Good For Storage
There are many types of potatoes some are good for short term use and others make great long term storage potatoes.
Generally, potato varieties that are ready late in the season have thicker skins and will store better than early season potatoes.
Varieties like Russet, Kennebec, and Yukon gold are known to be great storage potatoes. For red potatoes, Norland is a mid-season variety that has always stored well for us.
If you are growing fingerling potatoes or other early-season types then you’ll want to use these up first, saving the better storage potatoes for later use.
When buying potatoes from a farmers market, make sure to ask the growers what varieties they have that will store well.
Short Term Storage Tips
If you are storing small amounts of potatoes in your kitchen, pick a cool, dark, dry place. A kitchen cupboard or pantry shelf works great for short term potato storage.
Normally you can store potatoes for a month or a little longer with the natural temperature conditions in your kitchen. But for long term storage, you’ll need a cooler area for the best results.
If you bought potatoes in plastic bags, remove them and place them into paper bags, boxes, or a basket right away. Plastic bags hold too much moisture and cause them to spoil quickly.
Just remember that potatoes need to be stored in the dark. So if you are using a shelf instead of a cupboard and your storage container is a box or basket with an open-top, you’ll want to cover it up. Simply laying a piece of burlap or a sheet of newspaper over the top works well to keep the light off the potatoes.
Should Potatoes Be Stored In The Fridge?
No, although raw potatoes should be stored in a cool, dry area you shouldn’t keep them in the fridge. The low temperatures refrigerators run at will cause the potatoes to convert their starch to sugar.
Studies have shown that potatoes stored in the fridge can have higher amounts of acrylamide.
How To Store Potatoes Long Term
Properly cured and stored potatoes can last up to 7 months in storage. This makes them the perfect pantry staple to keep on hand to make meal planning easy.
We store our potatoes in a root cellar that is part of our basement. Our home was built in 1850 and we are very lucky to have a great root cellar for food storage.
But you can use a normal basement, an insulated garage, or a spare room too. As long as the area stays cool between 45-50F (7-10C) and has 80-90% humidity potatoes will store well.
1. Cure Your Potatoes
If you are harvesting potatoes from your garden it’s a good idea to cure the potatoes before you place them into your basement for storage. Don’t worry, curing potatoes is very easy.
To cure your potatoes place them in a dark room that is 65 F (18 C) and 85 to 95% humidity for two weeks. If you have the room you can spread them out on trays, but if you are short on space it works just fine to leave them in open bags or boxes.
Just make sure they are protected from sunlight so the potatoes don’t turn green. A light covering with newspaper or burlap can work well.
2. Prep The Area
Clean the area you plan to store your potatoes in and make sure there are no apples or onions stored in that same location.
Then place some pallets on the ground, this is especially important if you have a cement floor. As the cold and dampness will be transferred through the concrete and can cause the storage boxes to rot or potatoes to freeze.
3. Pack Up Potatoes For Storing
One of the most important steps to storing potatoes successfully is choosing the right packaging.
Plastic bags or bins are not good for keeping potatoes in because they don’t allow for good airflow. This can hold in too much moisture and cause the potatoes to rot.
Instead store unwashed potatoes in burlap sacks, bushel baskets, plastic vegetable crates, or cardboard boxes. To help improve airflow put a few small holes in the sides of the boxes.
As you pack your potatoes lightly brush off any excess soil and check them over for blemishes.
Any potatoes that were damaged during harvesting or have broken skin should be set aside to use up first.
Once your bag or bin is full place the potatoes into your prepared storage area.
Tips For Storing Potatoes
1. Don’t Wash
You might be tempted to wash your potatoes before placing them into storage, but that is a big mistake. You should never wash potatoes after harvesting. It will cause them to turn soft and rot much quicker than unwashed potatoes.
Those prewashed potatoes you can buy from the store are often sprayed with a preservative to keep them from turning soft or sprouting.
Instead of washing just gently brush off the loose soil from the potatoes before packaging.
2. Check Potatoes Often
Every few weeks take a little time to look through your potatoes for any that are starting to go bad. One rotted left too long can cause the rest to start to spoil too.
If you start to notice a musty, or sour smell make sure to check the potatoes as soon as possible.
3. Keep Potatoes In The Dark
Potatoes should always be stored in the dark. The green color is caused by chlorophyll, which gives plants their green color. But it’s often found along with the alkaloid solanine.
Eaten in large amounts it can cause illness. Make sure to peel off any green spots on your potatoes before using and if much of the flesh inside has turned green just toss it.
4. Keep Away From Apples And Onions
Onions and fruit like apples give off ethylene gas in storage. This can cause potatoes to start to sprout early and not last as long in storage.
For the best results keep potatoes away from onions and fruit when you are storing for long term use.
Potatoes are one of the easiest vegetables you can store overwinter. Just keep them in a cool, dark place and check them occasionally to remove any that start to go bad.
Want all of my potato growing and storage tips in one place? Check out my How To Grow Potatoes guide.