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Storing potatoes long-term is an art form, and it has a set sequence to follow to ensure the tubers remain viable and fresh during storage. Many factors can affect the quality of potatoes during storage, and this post will cover them in detail.
Potatoes should be cured for a few hours, stored at 60˚F for the first ten days, then Lowered to 36˚F. Good airflow and high humidity are important; periodically check for disease and rot. With these conditions, they can be stored for up to 6 months.
Table of Contents
- What Happens if Potatoes Are Not Stored Properly?
- Checking for Disease or Damage.
- Curing Methods for Potatoes
- Packaging the Potatoes in Suitable Containers.
- Placing Packaged Potatoes into Perfect Conditions.
- Periodically checking for signs of disease and decay.
- The Differences Between Storing and Preserving Potatoes
- Can Cold Temperatures Preserve Potatoes Correctly?
- What Is the Ideal Way to Store Potatoes in the Pantry or a Cool, Dark Area?
- Tips to Ensure a Longer Shelf Life for Potatoes
- Why Potato Preservation is Necessary for Any Gardener
- Which Methods Are Best For Storing Potatoes in Winter?
- Other Things Gardeners Should Know About Storing and Preserving Potatoes To Last Longer
Potatoes are one of the most consumed foods worldwide, yet they are susceptible to decay due to pests and disease. It is essential to store potatoes properly. There is a 5-step process which is:-
- Checking for disease or damage.
- Curing the potato tubers.
- Packaging the potatoes in suitable containers.
- Placing packaged potatoes into perfect conditions.
- Periodically checking for signs of disease and decay.
What Happens if Potatoes Are Not Stored Properly?
Potatoes can rot if potatoes are not stored and preserved correctly.
Potatoes can withstand various temperatures and conditions. It means if you do not store them, they can drastically affect their quality.
To maintain high-quality potatoes, gardeners need to store them in a room with less than 30% humidity. The desired temperature for storing potatoes is between 10-12°C or 50-55°F. If the temperature exceeds this range, the potatoes will start to sprout.
These are the things that can happen if you do not store and preserve potatoes:
- They can rot if they are not refrigerated or stored.
- They can spoil when left out in the open.
- Gardeners should not keep them near onions or other strong-smelling foods since this will cause them to spoil quickly and rot easily.
Checking for Disease or Damage.
Any potatoes that have a disease or are damaged will not store properly, and these must be removed and never stored with your main crop.
Storing these tubers is a false economy as they will decay over weeks and affect the entire crop of potatoes you are trying to store.
You can eat these potatoes immediately, but I would suggest any with the disease get disposed of. Damaged ones are fine to eat, and the damage is usually only caused by a fork or spade cutting them during harvest. You can avoid this if you grow potatoes in containers as I do. To learn more about how I grow them, check out this article.
Curing Methods for Potatoes
It is necessary to cure potatoes to avoid toxic production compounds such as glycine, which can develop during storage. Curing is the process of allowing the skin to dry completely, and it hardens the skin causing the tuber to be protected from temperature fluctuations and rotting.
It typically takes around 48 hours of curing until the potatoes are ready for storage. Skipping this step will drastically reduce the time the potatoes stay in storage before they awaken and sprout.
Packaging the Potatoes in Suitable Containers.
There are many ways to store potatoes, and there are a few rules you need to follow. In this section, I want to discuss how you package them. Traditional ways to package potatoes is in a 25kg or 55lb sack made from either hessian or paper.
I have used this method, but you could use another method to place a layer of straw into a cardboard box and then add potatoes and then another layer of straw until the box is full. The issue with this is that it is time-consuming and can use materials that have additional costs.
Slatted trays are another fantastic way to package potatoes. Potatoes are placed on a single layer and then covered with Hessian sacks. This system works extremely well, providing excellent ventilation to prevent the tubers from sweating.
Placing Packaged Potatoes into Perfect Conditions.
The crop is packaged in whatever style you decide; it is time to place them in the appropriate conditions. For this, we need somewhere dark and frost-free.
The temperature should be around 36˚F or around 3-5˚C; it should be a constant temperature as it tricks the tuners into thinking that winter is still active. The temps should not be allowed to go any lower for long periods as this can cause the tubers to freeze and damage their cells.
Place the tubers on shelving, not on a concrete floor, as the floor can reduce the temps by around 5 degrees.
Periodically checking for signs of disease and decay.
During the months that the potatoes are in storage, It is important to check each tuber for signs of rot. Catching this early can stop the spread to other tubers and cause the loss of the entire stored crop.
Open the sack or box, lift the hessian off the tubers, and check each one visually. You will notice any rot without having to touch the tubers.
You can pack them back until the next check when you are sure there is no rot.
The Differences Between Storing and Preserving Potatoes
People often don’t know the difference between storing and preserving potatoes. Storing potatoes is about keeping them in a cool, dark place until needed. They can be stored for up to 6 months before quality deterioration.
What is potato storage? When storing potatoes, keeping them in dry and cool locations like the root cellar or basement is essential. Gardeners should not store potatoes near onions, garlic, shallots, or other vegetables because they emit sulfurous gases that make potatoes turn green and cause scabbing on the skin when exposed to light.
What is potato preservation? Preserving potatoes is a necessary process that will ensure that they do not spoil quickly. A way to do this is by washing and drying the potatoes before placing them in sealed containers.
Preserving potatoes is about storing them to keep them fresh for an extended time (usually 1-2 years). Gardeners can preserve potatoes using cellars, root cellars, or storage. Preserving potatoes is a process that will keep all their nutrients and minerals intact.
Storing potatoes is a process of preserving them for future use. Storing potatoes is to keep them as fresh as possible for as long as possible. You can store potatoes at 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit and in a dark, well-ventilated space.
Preserving potatoes differs from storing them because the goal is to make the food last indefinitely. Preserving involves using many techniques to lengthen the shelf life of food that people can’t eat immediately-like pickling, canning, salting, and freezing.
Can Cold Temperatures Preserve Potatoes Correctly?
Cold temperatures slow down the decomposition process of potatoes until they become rotten. When this happens, there is nothing that you can do to save them. Potatoes should not be left out on a counter or in a truck for long periods when it’s hot outside.
Also, use plastic bags or containers with tight lids when storing potatoes. It will help protect them from pests like mice and bugs, which could cause potato blight damage to the skin of the potatoes and introduce bacteria into them.
What Is the Ideal Way to Store Potatoes in the Pantry or a Cool, Dark Area?
Whether to store potatoes in the pantry or a cool, dark area can depend on the type of potato. Some have a higher sugar content and better taste when stored in the pantry. But some taste better when stored in a cool, dark place.
Some people store them in the fridge, while others preserve them in their basement or garage.
The best way to store potatoes is in a dark, cool area. Humidity and light damage potatoes and cause them to spoil quicker than other vegetables.
Potatoes are typically best stored in dry conditions and at relatively high temperatures-around 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Potatoes have low moisture content, so they can get dried out if not stored properly.
Tips to Ensure a Longer Shelf Life for Potatoes
Potatoes are rich in vitamins, minerals, water, and carbs. They are inexpensive and easy to grow, and there are many tips to help your potatoes last longer after harvest.
If possible, store them in a root cellar or area below 50 degrees Fahrenheit with moist but not wet conditions.
If you have exposed your potatoes to moisture, it’s best to let them dry out before storing them again to avoid developing rot.
Even if you store your potatoes correctly, some may still spoil because of skin damage.
Why Potato Preservation is Necessary for Any Gardener
Gardeners must store their potatoes correctly because they cannot plant them again if they sprout or rot. If gardeners want their potatoes to grow well in the spring, they should start storing them properly during fall.
Which Methods Are Best For Storing Potatoes in Winter?
There are ways to store potatoes in winter. Gardeners can store potatoes in the ground outdoors, in a shed or outbuilding, under straw, or indoors.
Before deciding, you need to consider your climate and how you plan to store them for the winter. If you live in an area with warm winters and cold summertime, you should not leave your potatoes outside because they will rot from exposure to insects during the warmer months; this would not happen if you store them indoors.
Other Things Gardeners Should Know About Storing and Preserving Potatoes To Last Longer
Cut Off Any Sprouts or Roots
Potatoes can last up to a month when stored properly. Cutting off the sprouts or roots before storing them in a dark, cool place is the trick to preventing your potatoes from getting potato blight.
Place Potatoes in a Ventilated Container
Store potatoes in a ventilated container to reduce moisture and humidity levels, increasing the potatoes’ shelf life.
Cure for 2–3 weeks
Preserving potatoes for two to three weeks is not as difficult as it sounds. However, one will have to be dedicated and care about it.
So as you see, it is possible to store potatoes from the time of harvest until the planting of the following year’s crop. Follow the advice in this article, and you will have potatoes all winter long as your staple food source.
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