Potatoes are a staple foodstuff to keep on hand in part because they last so long—but the way you store potatoes is key. And there’s a good chance you’re doing it wrong.
If you’ve been paying attention to the experts, you know that we needn’t be hoarding anything during the COVID-19 outbreak—so please don’t—but keeping your fridge and pantry well-stocked while we wait out the coronavirus is smart (and comforting). A stocked kitchen also means fewer trips to the market and fewer chances to contract or spread the illness. Double bonus.
If you’re like me, you were—and still are—far more interested in stocking up on carbohydrates than paper products. Perhaps you panic-bought a surplus of starch and if so, may also be wondering how best to store your potatoes so they’ll last longer. Hearty as they seem, potatoes are vulnerable to outside elements, but if you can remember a few easy tips, your ‘tates will keep for as long as two weeks.
We got the potato low-down straight from the source: Heidi Alsum Randall is a Wisconsin potato farmer who graciously shared her know-how with regard to purchasing and properly storing potatoes—that most versatile of vegetables—so they keep. One big mistake folks make when storing potatoes, according to Randall, is putting them in an airtight container or plastic bag, the way you might for other foods and vegetables. Potatoes need circulating oxygen to avoid rot so remembering that, as well as these easy tips, will keep your potatoes fresher for longer.
Don’t get hung up on looks. Vegetables are often described as perfect and imperfect in the industry, but “imperfect” potatoes are just as good. If your potatoes look like they went a few rounds with Rocky, simply cut off any cuts, bruises, or discoloration before cooking.
Go hard or go home. A potato should be fresh-looking but also hard to the touch. If the potato is starting to soften or smells funny, even a little bit, it’s probably not long for this world and should be avoided.
Potatoes, when stored properly, should last about two weeks. Some varieties like new, creamer, petite, or fingerling potatoes may have a slightly shorter shelf life.
Store potatoes in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place. At all cost, avoid high temperatures such as below sinks, next to windows, or near appliances that get hot. High temps will cause your potatoes to spoil faster.
Be sure air can reach your potatoes. There is a reason potato bags and sacks at the grocery store have holes or mesh. Either store your potatoes loose in a bowl or in a plastic or paper bag with holes.
Never refrigerate or freeze fresh potatoes before cooking. In certain instances you can freeze them after cooking, as with potato soup or puree but, in general, potatoes don’t take well to freezing. If you absolutely have to freeze them before preparing, they must first be blanched. This should be a quick submergence in boiling water for between three and five minutes, based on the number of potatoes.
Don’t wash potatoes before storing, as dampness will lead to early spoilage. Wait until you’re ready to use them to give them a good scrub.
Check potatoes regularly and remove any that show signs of spoilage, as this will spread to the others.
If potatoes begin to sprout, you can still cook them. Just remove the sprouts and cut away any green areas. Sprouts are a sign that the potatoes may be turning, however, and you should try to use them up quickly.
Use red bliss or something sweeter like russet for this simple recipe. Serve with an herb aioli or a ketchup and hot sauce blend. Get the Perfect Roast Potato recipe.
Cheesy, moist scalloped potatoes made with nutty gruyere might just be a perfect food. Preparation and execution is more involved than some other potato recipes but is 100 percent worth it. Get the Scalloped Potato recipe.
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Good Dijon mustard is the key to any potato salad. Heap some of this next to a charred hot dog or juicy burger and it’s officially a party. Get the Easy Potato Salad recipe.