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May 5, 2010 10:14 AM

Storing potatoes

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!

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  1. 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

      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. 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

        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

          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

            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. 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. 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

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

            1. re: sparkareno

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

              1. re: sparkareno

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