How To Store

How To Store Potatoes With Simple Tricks

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The potato is a versatile vegetable. From french fries to baked potatoes, there are many ways to enjoy this starchy vegetable. Potatoes naturally have a long shelf life as compared to most vegetables. However, it is important to shed some concern on how long they can last without proper precautions.

Letting your potatoes sit and rot is a miserly feeling. Fortunately, there are numerous tricks to keep them fresh and lasting for a long time. By following these 15 simple tricks, you might be easily able to enjoy your potatoes all year.

1. Cool Dark Place

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Storing the potatoes in a cool and dark place helps maintain a balanced temperature. When potatoes are exposed to warm temperatures, their natural sugars start to convert to starch, causing them to sprout and turn green. This greening indicates the production of solanine, a compound that can be harmful if consumed in large amounts. Storing potatoes at a cool, ideal temperature between 45 and 55°F (7 and 10°C) slows down this process, significantly extending their shelf life.

Similarly, light triggers the potato's natural defense mechanism, leading to the production of chlorophyll, the pigment that gives plants their green color. Storing potatoes in a dark place prevents this, ensuring they remain healthy and flavorful for longer.

2. Far From Sunlight and Heatsource

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Direct sunlight and other sources of heat can cause potatoes to sprout or shrivel, decreasing their shelf life. Keeping them away from direct sunlight and heat sources is crucial for extending their lifespan. When exposed to sunlight, potatoes react by producing chlorophyll, the pigment responsible for their green color. This process is similar to what happens in leafy greens and indicates the conversion of starch to sugar.

Unfortunately, this greening also increases the production of solanine, a compound potentially harmful in high doses. Moreover, sunlight triggers the natural defense mechanisms in potatoes, leading to the formation of sprouts, which gradually remove the nutrients. By keeping potatoes away, the production of solanine is minimized, and the potatoes remain safe and flavorful.

3. Ensure Extra Ventilation

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Potatoes spoil when they are exposed to too much moisture. Using wooden crates or burlap sacks is another good option for storing potatoes. They allow the potatoes to breathe and help to prevent them from getting too moist. Wooden crates have spaces between the slats, allowing for air circulation, which helps prevent moisture buildup and the growth of mold and bacteria.  Burlap is a natural fiber that allows for air circulation, prevents moisture buildup, and keeps potatoes fresh.

The best choice for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences. If you are storing a large quantity of potatoes, wooden crates may be a better option due to their durability and stackability. If you need to access your potatoes frequently, burlap sacks may be a better option, as they are easier to move and open.

4. Avoid Mixing Fruits and Vegetables

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Potatoes should be kept separately from other fruits and vegetables to increase their shelf life. This helps in two ways: firstly, this process prevents ethylene gas exposure. Many fruits and vegetables, particularly bananas, tomatoes, apples, and onions, release a natural gas called ethylene as they ripen. The ways of storing apples also vouch for separate keeping. This gas accelerates the ripening process of other nearby produce, including potatoes. When exposed to ethylene, potatoes begin to sprout, soften, and develop an unpleasant smell.

Secondly, separate storage helps reduce cross-contamination. Some fruits and vegetables, especially those with bruised or damaged skin, can harbor bacteria or mold spores. When stored near potatoes, these spores can easily transfer and cause the potatoes to spoil.

5. Avoid Refrigeration

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Potatoes are vegetables that do not benefit much from the refrigeration process. When stored in the refrigerator, the starches in potatoes convert to sugar more rapidly at lower temperatures. This process, called cold-induced sweetening, can make potatoes taste unpleasantly sweet and change their texture. Also, it causes the sprouting of potatoes, which consumes the potato's nutrients.

Further, the cold temperature in the refrigerator can also increase the sugar content of potatoes, contributing to their sweet and mushy texture. However, it is possible to minimize the effect of refrigeration by keeping them in a plastic bag or washing away the starch before storing them.

6. Try Freezing Potatoes

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Freezing potatoes is a great way to prevent spoilage and enjoy them for longer. By stopping the growth of bacteria and slowing down enzymatic processes, freezing can keep potatoes fresh for up to 12 months, compared to just a few weeks at room temperature. To freeze potatoes successfully:

  • Choose the right potatoes. Waxy potato varieties, like Yukon Gold or red potatoes, freeze best.
  • Prepare them properly. Wash, peel, and cut the potatoes into desired sizes (e.g., cubes, fries, hash browns).
  • Dry them thoroughly. Excess moisture can lead to freezer burns. Pat the potatoes dry with a clean kitchen towel.
  • Freeze in airtight containers: Use freezer-safe bags or containers to prevent freezer burn and keep the potatoes fresh.

By following these simple steps, it is possible to stock up on potatoes and enjoy them gradually.

7. Check For Signs of Spoilage

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To ensure better longevity, it is best to discard any potatoes that show signs of spoilage, such as mold, discoloration, or a slimy texture. Here are some signs of spoilage you should look out for:

  • Soft Spots: This means the potato has started to rot and is no longer good to eat.
  • Mold: This is a clear sign of spoilage, and the potato should be discarded immediately.
  • Wrinkled skin: This indicates that the potato has lost moisture and is becoming dry and tough.
  • Green spots: These spots contain a compound called solanine, which can be harmful in large amounts. It's best to avoid potatoes with green spots.

By regularly checking potatoes for these signs of spoilage, one can remove any bad ones before they start to affect others. This will help keep the potatoes fresh and delicious for longer.

8. Avoid Washing Before Storing

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Not washing potatoes before storing them can significantly increase their shelf life. This is because washing removes their natural protective coating, making them more susceptible to bacteria, mold, and other forms of spoilage. When potatoes are washed, their protective layer is washed too. This leaves the potato exposed and vulnerable to attack, which can lead to faster spoilage.

Washing potatoes introduces moisture, which can create a breeding ground for bacteria and mold to grow. By leaving them unwashed, additional moisture is prevented, keeping them dry and healthy. Similarly, without washing, the natural coating on potatoes acts as a barrier against harmful microorganisms.

9. Seperate Raw and Cooked Potatoes

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Storing raw and cooked potatoes separately can help extend their shelf life. Raw potatoes emit ethylene gas, which accelerates the ripening and spoilage of cooked potatoes. By separating them, you prevent the cooked potatoes from getting mushy and spoiling faster. Additionally, raw potatoes have different storage needs than cooked potatoes, so storing them separately helps ensure optimal conditions for both.

Here are some additional benefits of storing potatoes separately:

  • Prevents cross-contamination
  • Reduces the risk of mold growth
  • Improves the taste and texture of both

Since the composition and temperature requirements of raw and cooked potatoes are different, it is effective to store them separately to improve their longevity.

10. Abstrain Plastic Bag and Containers

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Potatoes should not be stored in plastic bags or containers unless they are perforated. Storing them in plastic bags or containers without perforations can significantly shorten their shelf life. Potatoes need some space to "breathe" and avoid getting stuffy. They release moisture and a gas called ethylene, both of which can cause them to spoil faster if trapped inside a non-breathable container. Also, plastic bags trap moisture, creating a perfect environment for bacteria and mold to grow. This can lead to soft spots, a slimy texture, and eventually spoilage.

Trapped ethylene gas hastens the ripening and aging process of potatoes. This means they'll sprout, wrinkle, and lose their flavor much faster compared to potatoes stored in breathable containers. You may use cardboard boxes, mesh bags, burlap sacks, and other alternatives that allow air to enter the potatoes.

11. Divide Types

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Separating different types of potatoes can help their shelf life in several ways. The easiest way to do so is by keeping different types of potatoes on different rack shelves. Potatoes come in different maturity groups, meaning they reach their peak flavor and texture at different times. Storing early, mid, and late-season potatoes together can lead to some spoiling before others reach their prime.

Some potato varieties, like russets, emit more ethylene gas than others. This gas can accelerate the ripening and spoilage of nearby potatoes. Keeping them away according to their ethylene emission levels helps prevent premature ripening and extends their shelf life. Similarly, different potato varieties have slightly different storage requirements. For example, red potatoes prefer slightly cooler temperatures than russets.

12. Cut Potatoes Prefer Refrigeration

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Unlike raw potatoes, cut potatoes prefer refrigeration to increase their shelf life. If there are leftover cut potatoes, one can try this step to keep them fresh until the next cooking. Simply put the potatoes in cold water in a container and store them inside the refrigerator. This process helps the cut potatoes to prevent browning, slow down enzyme activity, and maintain freshness.

However, it is crucial to consider that cut potatoes can be stored only for 24 hours. Some water-soluble vitamins and minerals can leach out into the water, reducing the nutritional value of the potatoes. Instead, try these steps to store potatoes in water:

  • Use cold, clean water.
  • Change the water every 4–6 hours to prevent bacterial growth.
  • Store the potatoes in an airtight container to prevent them from absorbing odors from other foods.

13. Seek Curing

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Curing potatoes is like giving them a spa treatment. It's a simple process that can significantly increase their shelf life. When potatoes are freshly harvested, their skin is still thin and delicate. Curing allows them to "toughen up" by developing thicker skin. This thicker skin acts like a natural barrier, protecting the potato from moisture loss, mold growth, and other spoilage factors.

Curing helps to prevent the potatoes from sprouting, which can make them bitter and less flavorful. These potatoes have a firmer texture and cook more evenly. By extending their shelf life, curing helps you avoid throwing away spoiled potatoes. After curing, potatoes will be more resistant to spoilage and can last for weeks, even months, when stored properly.

14. Blanching

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Blanching is a simple but effective way to increase the shelf life of potatoes. It works by briefly boiling the potatoes, which stops the enzymes that naturally break down their starches and sugars. This process slows down spoilage and helps the potatoes stay fresh for longer. For instance, a freshly cut apple starts to turn brown quickly because of an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase. Blanching works like a magic trick, stopping this enzyme in its tracks and preventing the potatoes from turning brown and spoiling.

Blanching helps improve the texture and flavor of potatoes by making them firmer and preventing them from becoming mushy. It is important to blanch the potatoes shortly after they are peeled or cut, and they should be cooled immediately after blanching to stop the cooking process.

15. Dehydrating Potatoes

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Dehydrating potatoes is a fantastic way to dramatically increase their shelf life. By removing most of the moisture from the potatoes, you create a shelf-stable product that can last for months or even years. Potatoes have a lot of water in them, which makes them delicious and soft. But this water also creates a breeding ground for bacteria and mold, which can cause the potato to spoil quickly. Dehydration removes most of this water, leaving behind a dry, lightweight product that is much less susceptible to spoilage.

Dehydration can be done in numerous ways. Using a dehydrator is the most efficient and convenient method. Simply slice the potatoes thinly, arrange them on the dehydrator trays, and follow the instructions for your specific model. Using the sun is another famous way that takes longer but requires no special equipment. Slice the potatoes thinly and spread them out on a clean surface in direct sunlight.