Someone told me you shouldn't store potatoes next to onions, is this true? Why?

  • Posted by: Reen
  • January 17, 2011


blueophelia April 30, 2013
Our great-grandmothers did not have separate root cellars for each vegetable, no--they had one root cellar with proper ventilation to prevent spoilage due to the build-up and intermingling of gasses. They also stored vegetables separately within the root cellar, keeping vegetables that affected each other poorly far apart.
betteirene January 19, 2011

For this one question, pretend you're your great-great-grandmother, who didn't have an electric refrigerator and supermarkets at every other major intersection. You grew a lot of your own vegetables, or you purchased them in bulk from a greengrocer or local farmer. What wasn't "put up" (canned) was stored in burlap bags or sand or baskets or in layers separated by newspapers in a wooden box in a root cellar. You did not have separate root cellars for each vegetable: onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, leeks, celery, cabbages, parsnips, turnips and rutabagas were all placed in the same cool, dank room where the gases they emitted intermingled freely, the same way they do in my cool dark cabinet.

Yes, onions and potatoes will deteriorate rapidly when they are stored together in the warmth of today's modern kitchens. They need to be kept cool enough to retard spoilage but not so cool that they become chilled, which would be about 45-50 degrees, just slightly more than the temperature in your refrigerator.

In these days of convenience and of the year 'round availability of produce, why would you even think about storing potatoes and onions any longer than a week or two? Why not buy them fresh each week? Unless you've found a terrific sale on potatoes and onions or unless you've learned of an impending doom, you have no reason to store vegetables for as long as your great-great-grandmother had to.
Reen January 18, 2011
Thank you all! I never knew that, I'm going to call my sisters and tell them, because my mom didn't know that.
RobertaJ January 18, 2011
Absolutely true. When I was a snot-nosed new cook that *ahem* "knew-it-all-because-*I'D*-watched-Julia !" I put the onions in a bin on top of the bin of potatoes in a closed cupboard.

Biggest damn kitchen mess I've ever cleaned up was getting rid of those decomposed potatoes.
Kankana January 17, 2011
seriously ?? This is news to me .. I have always seen my mom storing onion and potatoes in two different baskets but they are very much next to each other . And she would never refrigerate them and neither to I . I learned something new today! :)
bella S. January 17, 2011
Also, onoions should be stored in the frig, potatoes shouldn't. Or so "they" say.
amreiskitchen January 17, 2011
Absolutely correct.onion gases are the culprit. If you want your potatoes to last a while don't let them live with the onions. if your potatoes have sprouted but are not rotten consider using them for gnocci or some other recipe calling for particularly starchy taters,
usuba D. January 17, 2011
They are correct. The gases from the onions cause the potatoes to grow and rot quickly. I find I have to keep potatoes on the other side of the kitchen away from the onions. The gases from the onions migrate from one drawer to the next in the same cabinet.
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