Potatoes may not be a very exciting food, but they make up for their lack of glamour by being dependable and even life-saving. Throughout the history of civilization, they have served as a central crop around the world and sustained people in harsh climates for months at a time during the winter. In fact, they were so important in Ireland in the 1800s that a bad potato crop caused an entire famine! As for day to day life in current times, potatoes are a lifesaver because of how long they last.
Why We Love Potatoes
Potatoes are a favorite in many households, and they can be made in a variety ways, some of the most popular being French fries, baked potatoes and mashed potatoes. Filling and versatile, potatoes are ideal for a potluck or weeknight dinner. Russet potatoes are the most common, but many types of potatoes exist, each with slight variations on size, color and taste. Yukon gold, fingerling and red gold are also common potato varieties.
Because of their shelf life, potatoes are an excellent food to keep around the kitchen. In fact, potatoes' ability to last so long caused them to become the first vegetable grown in space! The reason for their impressive shelf life is that they don't produce much ethylene gas, which is what causes decay in fruits and vegetables. However, despite their natural abilities, the shelf life of potatoes also depends on their storage conditions.
Tips for Long-lasting Potatoes
When you come home with a bag of fresh potatoes, make sure not to wash them before storing, since this can cause them to rot. Our most important storage tip is to store your potatoes in a cool, dark place like a dim corner of the pantry or a basement, with as little humidity as possible.
To maximize shelf life, keep them out of the sun because sunlight causes potatoes to grow little green sprouts. They should also be covered loosely in a paper bag, mesh bag, or cardboard box, with enough air circulation to breathe. Using a plastic bag can trap moisture, which is not what you want for potato storage. In this environment, raw potatoes should be good for up to two months.
Vintage Potato Onion Kitchen Storage Canisters
If you don't have an area of your house that is cool and dry, the next best way to store them is at room temperature. At room temperature, uncooked potatoes last for about two weeks.
Another option for storage is the fridge, but this comes with some caveats. Raw potatoes last in the fridge for three to four weeks. However, when kept in the fridge, their starch gradually turns into sugar, so they become sweet. They can still be made into an appetizing meal, but their sweet taste may be a little off-putting. Because of this, the fridge should be your last resort for storing your raw potatoes.
Sweet potatoes and white potatoes have similar needs when it comes to potato storage, and they can actually be stored together if this is most convenient. Sweet potatoes last a similar amount of time, and they also do best in cool, dark areas.
Time To Cook!
Once you're ready to use your potatoes, take them out of storage and rinse them under cold water, taking care to remove all the dirt. You may notice some discolorations and green sprouting on your potatoes. These potatoes are still fine to eat, but you should cut off the green spots, mushy bits and brown blemishes before cooking to ensure that you don't eat any parts that have gone bad.
Once you've cooked your potatoes, it's best to refrigerate them in an airtight container or keep them in the freezer to avoid spoilage, like all cooked food. Cooked potatoes will be good for about a week in the fridge, and they will keep for up to a year in the freezer before spoiling.
The next time you have a craving for mashed potatoes, no need to head to the store. Using these storage tips, you can always have potatoes waiting in your pantry, waiting to become a tasty meal!