How to Store Garden Potatoes (Tips for The Long Term)

As a gardener, I take great pride in growing my own vegetables, including potatoes. However, storing them can be a challenge. If you store them incorrectly, they may rot or sprout before you have a chance to use them. In this article, I’ll share my tips on how to store garden potatoes properly, so you can enjoy them all winter long.

Storing potatoes requires a dry and cool environment, with a temperature range of 35 to 40 F (2-4 C). A refrigerator is an ideal place to store potatoes, but if you have a large crop, it may not be practical. An unheated basement or garage can also work well. 

It’s important to avoid storing potatoes where temperatures are likely to freeze, as they will crack open. In this article, I will discuss the best places to store your potatoes and how to prepare them for storage.

a few potatoes

Table of Contents

Understanding Potato Varieties

When it comes to storing garden potatoes, it’s important to understand the different varieties. Here are some of the most common types of potatoes:

Red Potatoes

Red potatoes are ideal for salads, roasting, and boiling. They have a thin skin and a waxy texture, which helps them hold their shape during cooking. Red potatoes have a slightly sweet and nutty flavor and are high in vitamin C and potassium.

Yellow Potatoes

Yellow potatoes are perfect for mashing, frying, and baking. They have a creamy texture and a buttery flavor, which makes them a popular choice for many dishes. Yellow potatoes are also a good source of vitamin C and potassium.

New Potatoes

New potatoes are harvested before they are fully mature, and are smaller in size. They have a thin skin and a delicate flavor, and are often boiled or roasted. New potatoes are a good source of vitamin C and potassium.

Late Maturing Varieties

Late maturing varieties of potatoes take longer to mature, and are often harvested in the fall. They have a thicker skin and a more starchy texture, which makes them ideal for baking and frying. Late maturing varieties are also a good source of vitamin C and potassium.

Knowing the different types of potatoes and their uses can help you choose the right variety for your storage needs. Whether you prefer red, yellow, new, or late maturing varieties, storing them properly will ensure that you can enjoy them for months to come.

stored potatoes

Harvesting and Preparing Potatoes for Storage

As a gardener, I love this part, it’s like digging for treasure… But before you can store your potatoes, you need to make sure you harvest them correctly. Here are the steps I follow:

Harvesting Process

When the plant dies back, it’s time to harvest them. Use a garden fork or shovel to dig up the potatoes. Be careful not to damage them with the tool. Remove any excess dirt from the potatoes, but don’t clean them completely.

Curing Potatoes

Curing your potatoes is an important step in preparing them for storage. After harvesting, spread the potatoes out in a cool, dry, and dark place for about two weeks. The curing process allows the skin to harden and any cuts or bruises to heal. This will help your potatoes last longer in storage.

Don’t clean your potatoes

It’s important not to clean your potatoes completely before storing them. Leave a thin layer of dirt on them to protect them from light and moisture. This layer will also help prevent the potatoes from sprouting too quickly.

grow potatoes and curing

Proper Storage Conditions

When it comes to storing garden potatoes, proper storage conditions are key to ensure that the potatoes stay fresh and last as long as possible. In this section, I will discuss the ideal temperature and humidity, preventing exposure to light, and ventilation requirements.

Ideal Temperature and Humidity

The ideal temperature for storing potatoes is between 35 to 40°F (2-4°C). Storing potatoes at a cool, dark temperature is essential to prevent sprouting and spoilage. High humidity is also necessary to keep the potatoes from drying out. However, too much moisture can lead to rotting, so it’s important to find a balance.

Preventing Exposure to Light

Potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark place to prevent the development of solanine, a toxic compound that can develop when potatoes are exposed to light. Solanine can cause nausea, and headaches and can even be fatal in extreme cases. Therefore, it’s important to store potatoes in a well-ventilated area away from direct light.

Ventilation Requirements

Potatoes need to be stored in a well-ventilated area to prevent the buildup of carbon dioxide, which can cause the potatoes to spoil. However, too much ventilation can dry out the potatoes, which can also lead to spoilage.

Choosing the Right Storage Container

When it comes to storing garden potatoes, choosing the right container will help to keep them fresh for a longer time. Here are some of the best storage containers for garden potatoes:

Cardboard Boxes

Cardboard boxes are an excellent option for storing garden potatoes. They are inexpensive and readily available. Make sure to choose a box that is sturdy and has no holes or punctures. Line the box with newspaper or straw to absorb excess moisture. Store the box in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area.

Paper Bags

Paper bags are another great option for storing garden potatoes. They are breathable and absorb excess moisture, which helps prevent rot. Make sure to choose a bag that is sturdy and has no holes or punctures. Store the bag in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area.

Mesh Bags

Mesh bags are an excellent option for storing garden potatoes. They allow air to circulate, which helps prevent rot. Make sure to choose a bag that is sturdy and has no holes or punctures. Store the bag in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area.

Plastic Bags

Plastic bags are not the best option for storing garden potatoes. They do not allow air to circulate, which can cause the potatoes to sweat and rot. However, if you must use plastic bags, make sure to choose a bag that is sturdy and has no holes or punctures. Store the bag in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area.

Remember to avoid storing garden potatoes in airtight containers, as this can cause them to rot quickly. Choose a container that is well-ventilated to allow air to circulate.

potato plants and cardboard boxes

Storing Potatoes with Other Root Vegetables

When it comes to storing potatoes, it’s important to keep in mind that they emit ethylene gas, which can cause other vegetables to spoil faster. However, there are a few root vegetables that can be stored with potatoes without issue.

Don’t Store With Onions

Due to the high level of ethylene gas produced by onions, storing them with potatoes can cause the latter to ripen and spoil before they’re intended to be used. 

On the other hand, potatoes’ high moisture content can cause your onions to become soft and eventually leak when stored together. Therefore, to prevent both vegetables from going bad prematurely, it’s advisable to store them separately.

Root Cellars

If you have a root cellar, storing potatoes with other root vegetables is a great option. Root cellars are ideal for storing potatoes because they provide a cool, dark, and humid environment. This helps to slow down the sprouting process and keep potatoes fresh for longer.

When storing potatoes with other root vegetables, it’s important to keep them in a separate container or bin. This will help to prevent any cross-contamination and ensure that each vegetable stays fresh for as long as possible.

root cellar storage

Long-Term Storage and Preservation Methods

When it comes to storing garden potatoes for an extended period, there are two main methods to consider: cold storage and pressure canning. Both techniques will help preserve your potatoes through the winter months and beyond.

Cold Storage

Cold storage is a simple and effective way to keep your potatoes fresh for an extended period. To do this, you’ll need to find a cool, dark place to store your potatoes. A basement or cellar is ideal, but a garage or shed can also work.

The ideal temperature for potato storage is between 45 and 50°F (7-10°C). Make sure to keep the potatoes away from light, which can cause them to turn green and become bitter. You can store potatoes in cardboard boxes, open paper bags, or even in mesh bags.

Before storing, make sure to inspect your potatoes for any damage or soft spots. Remove any that are damaged, and store only the healthy ones. With proper storage, your potatoes can last for several months.

Pressure Canning

Another way to preserve your garden potatoes is through pressure canning. This method involves cooking the potatoes and then sealing them in jars for long-term storage.

To pressure can potatoes, you’ll need a pressure canner and some canning jars. Start by washing and peeling your potatoes, then cut them into small pieces. Cook the potatoes in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then pack them into the jars.

Add boiling water to the jars, leaving about 1 inch of headspace. Place the lids on the jars, then process them in the pressure canner according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

With proper pressure canning, your potatoes can last for up to a year. Just make sure to store them in a cool, dark place away from light and heat.

By using either cold storage or pressure canning, you can extend the storage life of your garden potatoes well into the winter months and beyond.

pressure canning potatoes

Spotting and Dealing with Spoilage

As much as we’d like to think that all of our garden potatoes will last forever, that’s unfortunately not the case. In order to make sure that your potatoes last as long as possible, it’s important to know how to spot and deal with spoilage. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Rotten Potato

A sign of spoilage is when a potato starts to rot. This can happen if the potato is damaged in some way, or if it’s been stored in a damp or humid environment. If you spot a rotten potato, it’s best to remove it from the rest of your potatoes immediately to prevent the rot from spreading.

Sprout Prematurely

Potatoes can sometimes sprout prematurely, which can be a sign that they’re starting to spoil. If you spot a potato with sprouts, simply cut off the sprouts and use the potato as soon as possible. It’s also a good idea to store your potatoes in a cool, dark, and dry place to prevent premature sprouting.

rotten potatoes

Conclusion

In conclusion, potatoes can last for a significant period of time if stored under the right conditions. With proper storage, they can remain fresh for up to 3 to 6 months or even longer, as evidenced by the fact that many households can keep them until spring before they start to sprout. It’s worth noting that sprouted potatoes can be planted in the spring, provided they appear healthy and the previous season was disease-free. Therefore, by following the recommended storage guidelines, you can ensure that your potatoes remain fresh for an extended period, and you can even extend their lifespan by planting them in your garden.

People also ask

How should I store garden potatoes?

Garden potatoes should be stored in a cool, dry, and dark place with good ventilation, such as a root cellar, basement, or pantry. Avoid storing them in plastic bags or airtight containers, as this can cause them to rot.

How long can I store garden potatoes?

Garden potatoes can be stored for up to 3 to 6 months or longer if stored properly.

Should I wash garden potatoes before storing them?

No, it’s best not to wash garden potatoes before storing them, as this can cause them to rot more quickly. Instead, allow them to dry completely and brush off any excess dirt.

How do I know if garden potatoes have gone bad?

Garden potatoes that have gone bad may have soft spots, mold, or a foul odor. Sprouted potatoes are still safe to eat, but they may have a slightly bitter taste.

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Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright

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