How to Store Potatoes

A GOOD THING ABOUT GROWING POTATOES is that they keep better than most vegetables. You can store potatoes for months because they continue live on after you pull them out of the ground. This is a good thing, too, because when backyard gardeners have a successful potato harvest, it’s usually enough for even large families to avoid the less tasty store bought varieties for at least a few months.

Another good thing is that storing potatoes properly is not hard – as long as the potatoes are healthy to begin with. If you keep a few guidelines in mind, you should be able to keep your harvest until the last potato is gone. Here are five guidelines on how to store potatoes.

Potato Storing Guidelines

1. Washing. Unwashed potatoes store better. If they are muddy or are excessively dirty, you can gently wash them with a hose. Just make sure they are completely dry before storing. Try to avoid scarring the skin because this invites problems.

2. No light. Probably the most important storage concern is light. Potatoes exposed to light turn green due to chlorophyll. A green potato indicates that glycoalkaloids have formed inside. In small amounts (no green) glycoalkaloids make potatoes taste bitter, giving them their distinctive taste. In larger amounts glycoalkaloids will make you sick. You can’t just cut off the green part of the potato to remove the glycoalkaloids. I’ve eaten potatoes with some green in the past, but I was lucky. It’s best to put green potatoes in the compost.

How to Store Potatoes

Five guidelines for how to store potatoes.

3. Temperature. Experts disagree on the proper storage temperature, but agree that potatoes should never be frozen. A storage temperature between 40 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit is probably best. After all, this is probably the temperature range they would be experiencing in the ground as they wait for spring. Temperatures on the low end of that range cause sugars to form in the potato. Most people don’t like a sweet potato. It tastes strange.

On top of that, potatoes that have been stored in the low 40s or colder sometimes burn when fried. Temperatures above 55 degrees sometimes encourage sprouting or, worse, diseases. A cold basement of about 45 -50 degrees is probably best.

4. Humidity. Potatoes should be stored in a moist environment. Humidity of 98 percent will avoid “potato shrivel.” This is because potatoes are mostly water and decrease in volume when dry. Storing potatoes in a rolled up paper bag will help keep the humidity high. It will also keep them dark.

5. Airflow. As we mentioned earlier, potatoes are still living, and like other living organisms they require oxygen and give off carbon dioxide. As such, air circulation is important when storing potatoes.

If you plan on storing potatoes for a few weeks, you don’t have to be too concerned. If, on the other hand, you’d like to keep them for a month or more, these guidelines will come in handy. For information on longer term storage of potatoes and seed potatoes, you can read the section on storing potatoes in Carol Deppe’s The Resilient Gardener on Google Books. The storing potatoes section is available online for free.

How long do you store your potatoes? Have you had any problems? Let us know by commenting below.

Related articles:

1. Book Review: Carol Deppe’s The Resilient Gardener
2. Potato Problems
3. Transplant at Proper Soil Temperature



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9 Responses to “How to Store Potatoes”

  1. August 25, 2011 at 6:14 pm #

    I store potato’s for 7 to 8 months,enough potato’s to feed 5 adults all Winter.We ate the last potato’s from last year at the end of May this year.My potato’s are all read,the early one’s are Early Norland and my late one’s are Red Pontiac.The early one’s are nearly all dug up now as we eat these first,they are harder to store.My late one’s will be dug up around the middle of October when the tops have dried off.I have a cold storage shed,they will be put in their after they are dug up.The skins are harder at this stage and i find them easy to handle.After they are dug i dry them,i do not dry them in the sun,i dry them in a cool place,the cooler the better.When they are all dry i sort them in three groups.Very large for fries,large for regular use.The others i take my seed potato’s from,only keeping those with at least 6 eye’s in them,after that we eat the rest.After this my seed are stored in grape boxes and the others are stored in plastic containers and then covered with barley straw.This lets the air circulate and keeps them in the dark.I have tried different temperatures and what works for me is 35 to 40f,the warmer they are the sooner they start to go soft.If you are afraid of burning your fries,take them out sooner and let them warm up.One more point,if you try and store them at the same temperature they came out of the ground at,the better your chances will be,that is why i dry them in a cool place.I get the odd rotten one once in a while,that’s not bad out of 600lbs of potato’s.We eat about 75lb of potato’s a month.

    • August 25, 2011 at 6:36 pm #

      Sounds like a great strategy Bob. I hope you have help planting and digging the potatoes.

  2. August 26, 2011 at 11:22 am #

    Very informative post. I’ve never heard the best temperatures for storing potatoes before. Too bad we don’t have a basement! I’ll try from now on to store all of our potatoes in brown paper bags, like the ones we got from the farmers’ market.

  3. Sheila
    August 27, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    #1 is really important. If they’ve been washed and not completely dried before they’re stored, don’t be surprised if you find them rotting. The new thing I learned from your article is about #2. I didn’t realize light is the cause for potatoes turning green. Thanks for that info.

    • August 27, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

      Sheila — Sometimes people get an upset stomach after eating slightly green potatoes and they don ‘t know why. It’s best to avoid green potatoes altogether.

  4. September 5, 2011 at 8:37 pm #

    Useful and very timely – thanks! I’ve got mine in a colander in a cupboard… hopefully opening & closing the cupboard reguarly provides enough airflow? Fingers crossed.

    • September 6, 2011 at 12:40 am #

      Lauren — If you’re anything like me, your potatoes will be gone before anything could happen to them.

  5. Whanz
    May 11, 2012 at 11:56 pm #

    You have a such a great advise on how to restore the potatoes. I really admire you for sharing this article. Now I know how to store potatoes even long months.

    • May 12, 2012 at 6:56 am #

      Thanks for visiting Whanz. I’ve got to admit, you are posting for a very unusual site.

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