How to Store Potatoes

By: Jeremy Glass  | 

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.

Originally Published: Jan 4, 2021

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Store Potatoes FAQ

Can you store potatoes in the refrigerator?
No, don't store your potatoes in the fridge. This can result in an increase in sugar levels in the potatoes, leading to higher levels of acrylamide, a chemical with potential health concerns when the potatoes are cooked.
What is the best way to store potatoes at home?
If you have a dark cellar, storing your potatoes in there will extend their life. If you don't, just store them in a cool, dark place, like a pantry.
How long can you keep potatoes before they go bad?
Raw potatoes generally last three to five weeks in the pantry. However, if you can keep them cooler (like in a root cellar), they can last up to three months.
What is the best way to store potatoes long-term?
First, make sure you're storing them in a breathable bag or basket, not a plastic bag. Moisture will get stuck in the plastic, ultimately causing rot. Ultimately, you'll need a root cellar or cold holes if you want to store them for longer than four weeks or so. You can also pressure can, dehydrate, or freeze them, though that will affect the flavor and texture.
How do you store potatoes so they don't sprout?
Store the potatoes with a few apples since the fruit naturally gives off ethylene gas, preventing sprouting.