Potato

The Best Way to Store Potatoes

November  3, 2015

You know potatoes will keep the longest when stored in a cool, dark place—specifically somewhere that's around 50° F. So just toss them down in your root cellar and call it a day. But we don't have a root cellar—do you?

In case, like most people, you don't have a root cellar, here are some potato storing strategies to keep in mind:

Keep them out of the sunlight

Don’t store potatoes out in the open on the countertop. Keep them in a drawer, in a basket, in a closet, in a paper bag, or in a bamboo vegetable steamer—anywhere that's dark.

Make sure they still have airflow

Either transfer your potatoes to another more ventilated container or if you keep them in the plastic bag they came in, make sure it’s well-perforated and the top isn't tightly sealed.

More: This handy chart will help you know just how long all of your fresh produce will last—plus it’s pretty enough to frame. 

Mashed Potatoes

Don’t store them next to your onions

It’s tempting to toss both your potatoes and onions together in a basket in your pantry and be done with it—after all they both like to be stored basically the same way. But resist temptation, because keeping them together might make your potatoes sprout faster and taste more like onions.

Avoid warm spots

Even if you don't have a cooler storage location than your kitchen, take care to avoid the warmest spots in the room: Don’t store your potatoes next to the oven or under the sink.

Warmer than their ideal storage temperature will make potatoes start to sprout, but colder isn’t necessarily better either. In On Food and Cooking, Harold McGee explains that when kept at colder temperatures (i.e. your refrigerator), “their metabolism shifts in a complicated way that results in the breakdown of some starch to sugars.” This means potatoes stored in the refrigerator will taste sweeter over time, and when cooked they are more likely to come out an unappetizing shade of brown.

Tell us: How do you store your potatoes?

Photos by James Ransom

11 Comments

ggwanda88 December 30, 2015
ggwanda88<br />Put an apple in your potato basket. It puts off an enzime that keeps them from sprouting.
 
liguy January 25, 2016
It is not an enzyme, it is a gas called ethylene gas
 
ggwanda88 January 25, 2016
Sorry, thanks for the correction.
 
liguy December 15, 2015
Thanks!
 
Your O. November 5, 2015
Happy to see this, but I repeat a question I've posted before with no definitive answer: how close is "too close" for onions & potatoes? Separate baskets I get. If the baskets are next to each other, is that too close? How about on opposite ends of, say, a 4' shelf? Same side of closet, different shelf? Opposite sides of, say, a 3' wide closet/pantry? Or not in the same pantry space at all? I'm an organizer and have never been able to say one way or the other for myself or my clients...please tell me!
 
Astra K. November 4, 2015
Hi there! Well, i have always stored onions, potatoes, green cabbages, squashes, and pumpkins (yes, i buy them to eat them) in real baskets, each in their own basket, all over my living room, which has no direct sunlight, and is always the coolest area of my apartment. They do not ever sprout, and stay fresh and beautiful for a lobg time. I did have an actual root cellar with my apt. In eastern europe, so when i moved here to usa i asked my friends back there...what to do with no cellar? And they advised...go out and buybig,natural baskets, keep in coolest spots. I have a tile floor in my living and dining area, itscool even in summer, so i just fi d strategic spots to place my veggie baskets on the floor. As a matter of fact, the very first thing i do wheni get home with e groceries, is get the vegs out of their bags and into their baskets. Friends tell me it also makes my apt. Look very rustic and unusual in a nice way. About the fridge? I personally have, in the past, totally ruined tomatoes and potatoes in the fridge. I learned the hard way...LOL! Never again!
 
Smaug November 3, 2015
I suppose the operative phrase is "over time"- I've refrigerated a lot of potatoes over the years and never had one come out an unappetizing shade of brown, or anything other than potato colored. Maybe if you left them in there six months. Or maybe something happens with russets- I don't remember ever refrigerating those. If they're sweeter, it's not noticeable and anyway, I'm still mourning the long lost supersweet Yellow Finn.
 
AntoniaJames November 3, 2015
An interesting recipe from Amanda (actually, her husband's), relies it seems on refrigerated potatoes: https://food52.com/recipes/2532-tad-s-roasted-potatoes I'd never heard of anyone putting a potato in the refrigerator before I read that. ;o)
 
Greenstuff November 3, 2015
I didn't say anything when Amanda's husband's recipe was posted. It was probably prudent, because recently, someone on the Hotline (maybe it was oldunc!) pretty much told me that I was a scientist with not enough real work to do when I cautioned against storing potatoes in the refrigerator. Truth is I AM a scientist and I wouldn't store potatoes in the refrigerator. But clearly, it's worked for others, sometimes with delicious results.
 
Smaug November 4, 2015
Science mostly comes down to "try it and see what happens", so I guess I'm a scientist too. Not much of anything happened.
 
GMJ November 27, 2017
Just wondering IF storing potatoes in the fridge could lead to gummy mashed potatoes. I am aware that gummy mashed potatoes are the result of over beating &/ or, over cooking,as well as not draining well enough. However, i have also read that cold storage like the fridge can also cause that gluey, gummy mashed as well. Thoughts? Or references?