There’s no vegetable quite as versatile as a potato. Baked, boiled, mashed, roasted, and fried - there are countless ways of adding these delish tubers to your meals. Not just tasty, they are an excellent source of carbs, fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. While potatoes, along with onions, typically outlast most fruits and veggies in the pantry, there’s a looming risk of some of them sprouting and making the whole stock go bad.
Thankfully, there are ways you can keep your potato stash fresh and sprout-free for longer. All you need to do is glance through our tips, storage ideas, and dos and don’ts for storing potatoes.
Best Ways to Store Potatoes and Stop Them From Spoiling Too Soon - 10 Helpful Tips
As easy as they are to cook and gorge on, storing potatoes requires being mindful of certain factors. Here are ten pointers that should help you zero down on a storage strategy that works for you.
1. Sort Your Stock
Start by inspecting your stock of newly-bought potatoes. You don’t need to spend too much time on this. Just sort them quickly into perfect and not-so-perfect ones. Any potato that shows signs of greening, bruising, mold, and sprouting should be either thrown out or consumed within a couple of days after removing the damaged part. The perfect potatoes are the ones that can go into long-term storage.
2. Keep them away from Sunlight and Moisture
It’s a good idea to keep the potatoes as far from sunlight as possible. Too much light can trigger greening, tricking the tubers into producing chlorophyll. Greening makes potatoes bitter and high in solanine - a neurotoxin. Such potatoes are best avoided. It’s equally important to steer clear of places with high moisture to save your stock from sprouting and rotting. The solution? A dry, dark spot such as your basement, cellar, pantry, or an out-of-the-way kitchen nook.
3. Use a Breathable Storage Container
Good ventilation is crucial for keeping your potato stash fresh for longer. Lack of airflow can cause potatoes to accumulate moisture and spoil quickly from the growth of mold and bacteria. So, skip the airtight containers and sealed plastic bags. Instead, opt for airy containers like mesh produce bags, paper bags, wire baskets, and burlap sacks.
4. Avoid Washing the Potatoes
We did mention moisture is not good for potatoes. And that’s why no matter how much dirt is sitting on the potato skin, ignore the temptation to put them under running water unless you’re planning to eat them right away. It reduces their lifespan by making them vulnerable to fungal and bacterial growth. If you can’t stand the dirt, let it dry out and then gently remove it with a brush, but make sure you keep the potatoes dry during the storage.
5. Aim for a Temperature of 45-50 Degrees Fahrenheit
When stored at the right temperature, your stock of raw potatoes can last months. You heard it right! Months! The ideal temperature range is 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything above 50 degrees F will make them lose moisture, shrivel, and start sprouting.
On the other hand, a place that’s cooler than 45 degrees F will convert starchy content into sugar, impacting taste and freshness. That’s why refrigerating raw potatoes is a definite no-no, but we’ll get into that in more detail in just a bit. Alongside keeping potatoes unspoiled, a cool, dry place like a cellar, a dark room, or a basement helps preserve their nutrients for longer.
6. Skip the Refrigerator for Raw Potatoes
Raw potatoes are best kept away from the refrigerator since the temperature there is typically lower than 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Tossing potatoes in the fridge will trigger a process that converts the starch into sugar. An unpeeled, uncut potato that’s been in the fridge for a long time will not only taste bad, but it may also produce acrylamide during the cooking process. High levels of acrylamide are known to trigger cancer in animals and also pose a health risk to humans, as per the FDA.
What about freezing, you ask? That would again be a no. When frozen raw potatoes defrost, there are chances of them becoming too soft and losing their natural taste. You can, of course, rely on the freezer to store the potatoes so they last months, but you’ll have to cook them a bit first.
7. Away from Onions and Other Produce
When it comes to long-term storage, onions and potatoes outlast many others. So, why not just store them together in the same place? Well, that might not exactly work because onions release ethylene gas, which causes potatoes to sprout. In fact, keep your raw potatoes away from ripening produce, especially bananas, apples, and tomatoes, in addition to onions. Ehythlene aids the ripening process and can do the same to your potatoes, making them go bad quickly. If you want to put off consuming potatoes for quite some time, just keep them away from the ethylene-gassing fruits and veggies, and you’re good to go.
8. Store Homegrown Potatoes After Curing
Potatoes have been a pantry staple for centuries. So, it’s not surprising that, over the years, people have come up with creative ways of preserving them. One such hack is to cure your potatoes, especially the homegrown ones or those with small cuts and bruises, before putting them away in storage.
Curing involves placing all the potatoes you intend to store on a sheet of paper or newspaper. The location should be a relatively humid (85-90%) and dark place, but crank up the heat to 50-60 °F instead of the recommended 45-50 °F. Let them stay that way for a couple of weeks until you notice the peels thickening and drying. Now, use a dry brush to remove the first from the skin. That’s it. Curing potatoes in slightly warmer temperatures and humid conditions helps the bruises and cuts to heal, making every tuber in your stash fit for long-term storage.
9. Store Leftover Potatoes in the Fridge or Freezer
Yes, we did ask you to avoid storing potatoes in the fridge, but that applies only to raw, uncut ones. If you’ve got leftovers, mashed, baked, or fried, simply pop them in the refrigerator in a sealed container. Expect the taste, texture, and quality to be slightly altered, but the cool environment of the fridge will ensure they are safe to consume for up to four days.
Freezer is also a great option, especially for mashed potatoes, thanks to their high butter and cream content, which keeps texture and taste intact. Just make sure you store the leftovers in a freezer-friendly container.
10. Refrigerate the Cut-Up Potatoes
Washed, peeled, and cut-up potatoes that haven’t been cooked won’t hold up well in room temperature conditions without the skin. If you have no plans of cooking them, you can soak them in a bowl of water and refrigerate them to save them from losing their texture or turning brown. Cut-up potatoes can also go into the freezer, although we recommend cooking them first, at least partially.
Cooking helps drain the potatoes of excess water so they don’t go mushy when you defrost them. What do we mean by partial cooking? Just blanch the peeled potatoes and allow them to cool down. Then, drain them and lay them on a kitchen towel - even better if the towels are made from food-safe and eco-friendly organic cotton. Let the towels absorb moisture, place them in a freezer-friendly container, and put them in the freezer.
The Best Storage Containers for Potatoes
Multi-Tier Vegetable Storage
A multiple-tier vegetable rack is one of those kitchen staples you can find in almost every house. If you don’t own one, we recommend exploring this 4-tier movable vegetable rack by the OKZEST. It features pull-out metal baskets, making it a convenient and stable storage solution. Meanwhile, the grid-like structure promotes excellent airflow while keeping dust at bay. Transfer potatoes to the baskets and wheel them into a cool, dark spot. It’s that simple!
Here’s a no-fuss idea for those who want to make the most of their existing storage containers. Look towards your laundry baskets. These versatile units can be transformed into potato storage containers using newspapers. All you need to do is line the baskets with paper and then place the potatoes carefully layer upon layer, separated by newspapers. Once you’re through with arranging the potatoes, cover the basket and place it in a cool, dark spot.
Airy Mesh Bags
Aah, our favorite! Reusable produce bags made from 100% certified organic cotton are a planet-friendly answer to end your potato storage woes. Breathability, durability, food-safe - these bags check all the boxes that you would want in an ideal potato storage. That’s not all. Being so lightweight, they can double up as shopping bags for your trip to the grocery store or the local farmers market. In other words, no more transferring tubers from a shopping bag to the storage container.
Another thing we really like about mesh cotton bags is their reusability. Let’s face it: potatoes are full of dirt, and anything that holds them - a shopping bag or storage container - requires frequent cleaning. Easy to wash and quick to dry, these cotton mesh bags are indeed the perfect potato holders.
Tips for Choosing the Best Potatoes
Storage tricks won’t work if your potato stock isn’t great to begin with. Select potatoes that are firm with a smooth peel, no bruises or cuts, and certainly no sprouts. Keep sorting your stock even when it’s in storage, and remove those that show signs of spoilage, such as rotting, greening, sprouting, and shriveling.