It’s always good to have potatoes around the house. They’re some of the most filling, nourishing, versatile, and shelf-stable foods to have in the kitchen – it’s useful to know how to store potatoes to maximise their shelf life.
Potatoes are also cheap – a 2.5-kilo bag will usually cost around £1.50 – can provide you and your family several wholesome meals for days and weeks ahead.
You can bake them, fry them, boil and mash them, toss them into soups to make them thicker, add them to casseroles to bulk them out, or turn them into a potato salad.
They’re incredibly flexible, fun and easy to work with. It’s always wise to keep a bunch of extra spuds on hand.
The good news is, raw potatoes can be stored for many weeks outside the refrigerator. Some varieties remain shelf-stable for as long as 8 to 9 months.
If you grow your own and happen to get a particularly big harvest, it’s essential that you store them correctly so you can enjoy having fresh, tasty taters throughout the winter. Here are several ways to keep them lasting longer, fresher.
Top Tips For Storing Potatoes At Home
Make sure they’re dry
Never wash potatoes before storage. Moisture can cause mould growth which will lead to spoilage. Just brush off the excess dirt.
Inspect each one
Sort your spuds to decide which ones to use first and which ones can go into long-term storage. Check for dark spots, mould growth, pest damage, sprouting, bruises and broken skin caused by shoveling and handling or transport.
A strong, foul odour is a sure sign of spoilage, too. Bad ones should be discarded, and the not-so-bad ones consumed soon. The spotless and good-looking ones are the ones you can put away for storage.
Pack them in a dark, breathable container
A paper bag, hessian (burlap) sack, wooden crate, cardboard box and a bushel or wicker basket are ideal because they provide good ventilation.
If you bought your potatoes from the store, never keep them in the original plastic bag that they came in. Spuds should never be kept in plastic containers, especially sealed ones that trap humidity inside.
Keep your potatoes away from sunshine or any direct light
Exposure to light causes them to turn green, making them bitter and quite toxic. So make sure those taters are kept in complete darkness.
To pack them, put a layer of dry hay at the bottom of your container. Place a layer of potatoes in, starting with the big, heavy ones at the bottom.
Make sure the tubers are not touching each other to prevent any potential rot from spreading.
Wrap in newspaper
Wrapping each in newspaper would be good too, as the newspaper will create a humidor effect – maintaining just the right level of humidity while absorbing any excess moisture. Place another layer of spuds, then hay or newspaper, then spuds, and so on until your container is full.
Store in a cool, dry place
Ideal storage areas are cool, dark places such as a kitchen cupboard, basement, cellar or garage. A warm, moist environment encourages sprouting, so make sure your chosen storage area has temperatures ranging from 5 to 10 degrees Celsius.
Avoid storing spuds inside the fridge
Cold temperatures cause the potato starch to convert into sugar inside, making them too starchy and mealy.
Keep them seperate
Also, it’s also important to keep them away from other kinds of produce like apples and onions. Fruits and vegetables emit ethylene, a gaseous hormone that causes them to ripen quickly. Protecting your potatoes from unnecessary exposure to this gas would keep them fresher, longer.
Check on them periodically. Watch for soft spots, moulds, or any sign of spoilage. Remove those which are starting to go bad.
If you see any sprouts, though, those can be snapped off with the fingers or sliced off with a knife. They’ll still be okay to eat, just as long as they’re not shriveled and are still firm to the touch.
The taste and texture may be a bit compromised, though. Sprouts suck nutrients and sugars from the tuber, causing it to shrink and turn soft. It’s best to consume sprouted potatoes right away.
Once cooked, your taters should be kept in a sealed, air-tight container and stored inside the fridge or freezer.
Raw potatoes don’t freeze well because of their high (80%) water content. They tend to discolour and change in taste and texture. But if you find yourself with way more spuds than you can cook before they sprout, go ahead and freeze some for later use.
The waxy, less-starchy kind, such as the red-skinned variety, will do better in the freezer because it has lower moisture content.
To prepare for freezing, first scrub, peel, and cut your potatoes – depending on how you intend to use them.
Then partially cook or blanch them – boiling, baking, or frying only until they’re crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.
Once they’ve been par-cooked, quickly submerge the slices into a bowl of iced water to stop the cooking process. Then, drain thoroughly before packing in freezer bags.
If you plan to cook them as fries and hash browns, you first need to freeze the slices on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
Then, pack them into freezer bags, pushing out as much air as possible. The less air there is in the bag, and the colder the temperature inside your freezer is, the longer your fries will keep.
For those that will go into soups, stews and mashed potatoes, thaw the frozen cuts in the fridge first, about 7 to 8 hours, before cooking. And since these taters have already been par-cooked, remember to add them only near the end of the cooking time so as not to overcook them.
You’ll find that pre-frozen potatoes will taste and feel slightly different than the fresh, unfrozen kind. You can easily compensate for this by adding more spices and seasoning while cooking the dish.