HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Storing potatoes

Mandy May 5, 2010 10:14 AM

I joined a CSA this year and they've been sending me some lovely little potatoes and yams. My problem is if they stay in the cupboard for longer than 3 days they start to turn soft and sprout. My supermarket potatoes seem to have a longer life. Am I doing something wrong? Is there a gadget I can buy to keep them in that will extend their life or are they sending old potatoes? Help!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. todao RE: Mandy May 5, 2010 10:42 AM

    Potatoes won't keep for more than about sixty days, regardless of how you store them.
    "New Potatoes" won't store more than about ten days.
    Keep them away from stored onions because onions emit a gas that will cause the potatoes to ripen more quickly.
    Keep them dry. Never rinse them before storing
    Store them in a paper or similar type of bag; never in plastic
    Keep them in a cool (between 50 - 55 degrees) dark dry place.

    1 Reply
    1. re: todao
      cookie44 RE: todao May 5, 2010 10:56 AM

      All true.

      I store mine in a basket on the bottom shelf of my pantry (coolest spot in an already cool pantry), not in any type of bag, and with a dark-colored kitchen towel over them to keep out light but allow air and moisture to circulate. Seems to work well.

    2. t
      tonka11_99 RE: Mandy May 5, 2010 10:59 AM

      Try keeping them in the crisper of your refrigerator. If you can adjust humidity on it set it for low humidity. This location is dark and cool. It should be perfect.

      3 Replies
      1. re: tonka11_99
        todao RE: tonka11_99 May 6, 2010 09:03 AM

        Not so - that crisper environment is too cool and the solanine will develop faster which advances spoilage. Solanine (which is actually toxic) is the green layer that develops beneath the skin and, unless entirely eliminated, ruins the flavor of the potato.


        1. re: todao
          greygarious RE: todao May 6, 2010 09:49 AM

          Potatoes turn green (chlorophyl) if not stored in the dark. The green indicates that the potato has been in conditions favoring increased development of solanine. Solanine is also in eggplant and tomatoes. The small amounts typically consumed are unlikely to cause anything worse than mild GI symptoms.

          In winter, I can buy a large bag at Costco and keep it near the door, where it is cool enough and dark enough. But the rest of the year they are in the fridge in the crisper, along with the onions, in the bags in which they are sold. That's what my mother did, and what I'd been doing for decades, without adverse results, before I ever heard assertions that this is wrong.

          1. re: greygarious
            bushwickgirl RE: greygarious May 6, 2010 10:02 AM

            Yes, solanine is the defense mechanism of the nightshade family, which includes eggplants and tomatoes. It is present in potato leaves, stems and shoots and develops under and on the skin when the potato is exposed to light or sunlight, not to cool temps, although potatoes can be damaged by cold; the green color is actually chlorophyll, but it's presence indicates the presence of solanine.

            On a happy note, deep frying potatoes effectively lowers glycoalkaloid (solanine) levels, whereas other cooking methods do not, as the solanine moves into the fat, so eat your fries with abandon.

      2. PBSF RE: Mandy May 5, 2010 11:02 AM

        For little new potatoes and most other "new" types including Yukon Golds, I have much better luck with brown paper bags in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator. They keep for couple of weeks without any sprouts, softness or rot.

        1. Cherylptw RE: Mandy May 5, 2010 12:10 PM

          I keep mine in the fridge and they last about 2 months, including sweet potatoes, bakers, yukons, new potatoes, etc.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Cherylptw
            sparkareno RE: Cherylptw May 5, 2010 12:14 PM

            huh? I always thought that you never refrigerate potatoes of any kind.

            1. re: sparkareno
              Cherylptw RE: sparkareno May 5, 2010 12:16 PM

              I've always stored mine in the bottom of the fridge

              1. re: sparkareno
                PBSF RE: sparkareno May 5, 2010 12:43 PM

                For "older types" such as russets that has high starch content, refrigeration will turn their starch into sugar, making them too sweet. I've never have problem with refrigerating "new" potatoes.

            2. Uncle Bob RE: Mandy May 5, 2010 01:00 PM

              I don't think you have a storage problem as much as you have a freshness problem...

              1. John E. RE: Mandy May 5, 2010 02:08 PM

                New potatoes just don't store as long as regular home-grown potatoes.Store bought potatoes are sprayed with some kind of stuff that slows sprouting. That's why you can no longer just buy a bag of potatoes and cut them up and plant them, you need to buy seed potatoes for your garden.

                2 Replies
                1. re: John E.
                  tonka11_99 RE: John E. May 5, 2010 05:19 PM

                  Oh Alton brown recommends putting an apple with stored potatoes because it slows sprouting. On one of his shows, he said he even tested it....shrugs... I have never tried it.

                  1. re: John E.
                    bushwickgirl RE: John E. May 6, 2010 03:04 AM

                    Sprout redardant is the term. It's better not to use store bought potatoes for seed potatoes anyway; while growing results occasionally may be acceptable, the risk of introducing a nematode, disease, or other pest is much higher when using store-bought poatoes than from quality-certified seed potatoes.

                    Here's a quote about storage from the University of Illinois Agricultural Extension:

                    "Even stored under the best conditions, potatoes lose some quality the longer they are stored. For best results, store in a cool, dark place with good air circulation. Do not refrigerate potatoes. Cold temperatures convert starch to sugar, giving potatoes an uncharacteristic sweet taste. The sugar caramelizes during cooking producing brown potatoes and an off flavor. Potatoes can be stored for a week or two at room temperature (65 to 70 degrees) with good results. "

                    Ok, I keep mine in the frig, oops.

                    "If potatoes start to sprout, they can still be eaten. Remove the sprouts and discard. If the potato is still firm, it is good to eat. Shriveled, wrinkled, sprouting potatoes should not be eaten. Green-skin potatoes have been exposed to too much light. A mildly toxic alkaloid called solanin forms in the skin. The green skin can simply be peeled away. Although the remaining potato is safe to eat, it will not be at its best."

                    File under safe potato practice.

                    I think maybe the OP got unsprayed, non-sprout retardant potatoes. Freshly dug new poatoes don't need any special storage before eating, just eat them; the late season potatoes can be stored for winter in a dark spot at 38-40* with high humidity.

                  2. t
                    tonka11_99 RE: Mandy May 5, 2010 05:18 PM

                    What would work great but is a very expensive potato bin is a wine cooler. They chill down to 55 degrees F. They are dry and dark. Even used, I'm not sure I'm ready to pay 50-75 dollars plus the electricity every month but It would be perfect.

                    1. greygarious RE: Mandy May 5, 2010 07:36 PM

                      A few years ago someone I know recommended the potatoes grown locally at Griggs Farm. While I was there to buy some, grizzled Mr. Griggs (I assume) said something about potatoes having to be stored, or something, before cooking. The gist was that it's no good to cook freshly-dug ones so possibly yours need whatever TLC potato farmers know about.

                      1. todao RE: Mandy May 6, 2010 09:10 AM

                        I don't want to step on anybody's toes here, but old wives tales and inaccurate information can make it difficult to develop good cooking skills. The refrigerator environment is much too cold for storing potatoes, whether you use the "crisper" or any other portion of its interior. Refrigerator interiors are too cool and the solanine will develop faster which advances spoilage. Solanine (which is actually toxic) is the green layer that develops beneath the skin and, unless entirely eliminated, ruins the flavor of the potato.


                        Show Hidden Posts