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How to Store Potatoes

potatoes
The potato is a versatile vegetable that can last for several weeks or several months, depending on the size and type, if it is stored correctly. Tuan Tran/Getty Images

Like most of us, you've probably bought a bag of potatoes, thrown them in the bottom veggie bin in the fridge, and totally forgotten about them until months later when you notice that they have all begun to sprout, have gotten soft and are no longer edible. While they have a relatively long shelf life, even potatoes will eventually go the way of the compost pile if left uneaten for too long.

As it goes with all vegetables, proper storage is the key to avoiding spoilage and, in the case of potatoes, even one potentially harmful side effect. Here are a few quick tips to ensure your potatoes last.

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1. Keep 'em out of the light

Always store your potatoes in a cool, dark place; a pantry is always a sure bet.

Ideally, you should be keeping your potatoes somewhere in the 43 to 50 degree F (6 to 10 degree C) range. This temperature not only keeps your potatoes from forming sprouts on the skin (a telltale sign of spoiling) but can actually quadruple the shelf life of your spuds.

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2. Forget the refrigerator

A fridge may seem like a no-brainer, but it can actually lead to some pretty dire consequences. Sticking your spuds in a refrigerator or freezer naturally increases the sugar level of potatoes, leading to the production of a harmful chemical called acrylamide when cooked.

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3. Separate them from onions

While they may be made for each other in the skillet, potatoes and onions should not be stored together. The gases produced from fruits and vegetables like onions, tomatoes, and bananas speed along the ripening process, leading to sprouting. Sprouted potatoes are safe to eat, provided you cut or peel away the sprouts.

Pro-tip: An easy way to ward off spoiling is to store potatoes with apples. Apples naturally give off ethylene gas, which prevents early sprouting.

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4. Give them a cure

There's an old process called "curing" that can extend the shelf life of your potatoes by months. This works best with a root cellar and thick-skinned brown potatoes like russets. After cleaning off any excess dirt, simply leave your potatoes in a well-ventilated area with moderate temperatures and high humidity for about ten days. This toughens up the skin and slows the respiratory rate of the tubers, breathing some extra life into your potatoes.

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