Storing potatoes in the right way is essential to use these precious tubers for a long time. Growing potatoes is a widespread practice among enthusiasts, even for home gardens. So, then, to ensure that they last for a long time, you need to choose the best storage rooms, with temperature and humidity controlled as much as possible. In this article, we will give you a complete guide about how to store potatoes long term.
In this article and understanding how to store this tuber, we understand why potatoes to sprout and what must be done when this happens. But first, let’s see how potatoes are harvested in the garden since this is where we start thinking about conservation.
How to store potatoes long term: harvest potatoes
Potatoes are tubers that grow and develop underground. Therefore, we must dig them out of the ground, using a spade or a pitchfork to help us reopen the furrow. When the aerial part of the plant is arid, it is time to proceed with the harvest. To do this, we choose a time interval without precipitation to find the dry soil at the moment of excavation. Not all potatoes are suitable for storage. Only the well-ripened ones, with the consolidated skin and that, does not come off with rubbing, will be set aside. By slightly anticipating the harvest, we will have new potatoes intended for fresh consumption.
We must avoid harvesting potatoes that are too green, as they are too rich in solanine and potentially toxic. Take care to remove all the tubers from the ground, even the damaged ones. If left on the field, a potato attacked by elaterids becomes the ideal shelter for the insect to overwinter. As a result, we will find him doing damage in the following season. Once the potatoes have been extracted from the ground, we can leave them for a few hours to dry in the sun so that it is easier to clean them.
To keep them well, you must carefully clean them from the earth, using gloves or a very light brush. At this stage, we place them in containers, possibly wooden boxes. It is better to divide them by size so that you can use them differently in the kitchen.
How to store potatoes long term
To properly store potatoes, you need to follow these guidelines:
- Choice of a suitable storage location,
- Proper ventilation,
- Temperature control,
- Humidity control.
Where to store potatoes
It is not difficult to find the right place to preserve potatoes. Let’s see the characteristics necessary to preserve them. Containers or cassettes. Potatoes are best preserved by placing them in a wooden or plastic box (as long as it has openings), not too squashed together.
Ventilated environment. The recirculation of air is essential for preserving the potato because it prevents the formation of mold and rot.
If you keep the potatoes in an arid environment, they end up withering, losing quality. Excessive moisture is even worse because it causes tuber rot or early sprouting. A good humidity value is 70/80%. A home hygrometer capable of measuring these data costs a few euros and can be helpful to know if your cellar is a suitable place to keep potatoes or not.
Keep the potatoes in the shade. Potatoes fear the light, which causes the tubers to turn green. Green is chlorophyll. It indicates an exposure of the tuber to the sun or to another source of light, where there are these spots, solanine has formed, a natural toxin that, when concentrated, makes the tuber inedible. So if you notice green spots, you have to cut the affected part of the potato.
The place of conservation
In the context of home storage, the ideal place for potatoes is a dark cellar, sufficiently ventilated, with low temperatures but not very cold, and the right degree of humidity. Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to have such a place. We must therefore adapt. For example, a basement where there are no radiators, or a small warehouse inside the house, could be acceptable.
If we only have large windows, we need to darken the environment, using curtains or dark material. The brightness factor is decisive for the correct conservation of potatoes. As if exposed to light, they tend to green due to the high production of solanine.
It is advisable to use wooden boxes for better storage of the tubers, perhaps the same ones we used for the harvest. In ancient times, unique drawers were used in country houses, which you can find on the market even today, revisited modernly.
A trick to protect canned potatoes is to spread a layer of dry straw at the top and bottom. Material that lets you breathe, but which at the same time keeps you cool and dark. If you only find plastic crates and not wooden ones, at least choose those with adequate holes to promote perspiration. Other valuable containers are large wicker baskets or jute sacks.
Aeration is essential to avoid the formation of mold and rot. For this, periodically, check your pantry and change the air if necessary.
The potatoes must be stored at the right temperature. That perfect is between 6 and 8 ° C. An acceptable range is between 4 and 10 ° C. It is necessary to avoid that the temperatures in the warehouse drop too much or, on the other hand, rise.
The softening phenomenon occurs below 4 ° C, i.e., they begin to soften and have an unpleasant taste. The cold transform starches into sugars, causing dark patches on the pulp. For this reason, potatoes should never be stored in the refrigerator.
And if the temperatures drop too much, the risk is freezing. For example, a few hours at -3 ° C are enough to freeze them and make them no longer edible. So in freezing periods, it is advisable to move them to a milder place, even if only temporarily.
Conversely, if temperatures rise above 10 ° C, the potatoes may sprout early. This happens because the physiology of the tuber anticipates the arrival of spring and the consequent budding.
To preserve potatoes for a long time, humidity must also be taken into account. The place must not be too dry. Otherwise, the potatoes lose too much water and become dehydrated (faded). On the other hand, the humidity cannot be excessive to avoid mold and rot.
The acceptable value for storing potatoes at best is between 70 and 80%. To keep the humidity and temperature of the storage rooms under control, you can use a simple wall thermometer like this one.
The right temperature for storage
Avoid too high temperatures. In the place of storage, it is better to keep temperatures below ten degrees. A temperature rise can be interpreted by tubers as the advent of spring, an auspicious time to sprout. The potato sprouts are not edible and must be removed.
Beware of frosts. The potato freezes at minus three degrees. Once frozen, it is no longer edible. In any case, you should never expose the potatoes to temperatures below four degrees. Particular attention must be paid to checking the minimum temperatures if you store the potatoes in cupboards placed outside or in slightly heated cellars.
Why do potatoes sprout and what to do
Potatoes can be stored from autumn to spring. Being a tuber grown biologically and not treated with anti-sprouting substances, it is entirely expected that summer sprouts begin to form with the arrival of summer sprouts. Usually, late harvest varieties delay this moment. As a rule, the shoots are white and immediately tend to stretch.
It is necessary to avoid the sprout’s development, which must be eliminated at the first hint on the skin of the tuber. It is easy to remove the sprouts of potatoes with your hands. The difficulty lies in the careful and periodic inspection of all tubers.
How to store potatoes long term
Many are wondering how to freeze potatoes. Previously we said that this tuber fears frost and spoils. So the only way to keep them in the freezer is to cook them first.
Do not keep potatoes in the refrigerator.
Potatoes need a cool but not excessively cold place. The effect of the cold is to transform starches into sugars, aesthetically manifested in dark patches. This modification worsens the aesthetic appearance and the taste of the potato, which becomes sweetish. Furthermore, the presence of excess sugars causes acrylamide formation during cooking (in particular frying), a toxic substance as a mutagen, potentially carcinogenic.
How to prevent potatoes from sprouting
Potatoes are annual plants. With the arrival of spring, a tendency to germinate is inevitable. The conditions in which they are stored can make them germinate ahead of time. In particular, temperatures that are too high (above 10 degrees) facilitate the formation of sprouts. The ideal is to have a place at 8 degrees. If the sprout is formed, it must be detached before it develops not to spoil the quality of the whole potato. It is, therefore, necessary to check the tubers often to avoid too pronounced germination.
Which potatoes keep the best
There are many varieties of potatoes, each with its peculiarities and different characteristics. But, in general, we can know that the earlier a potato is, the easier it will germinate. Therefore, we can say that late varieties such as Kennebec, Desireè, Bafana, Majestic, Michelle, and Mozart are preserved better.
How to store potatoes in an apartment in the summer.
An indispensable product for everyday and holiday menus is potatoes. Without this root crop, you can not cook first courses. It is often used as a side dish, fried potatoes – the easiest way to feed unexpected guests. The massive potato harvest takes place in August-October. Summer and rural residents usually leave their crops for the winter in a cool cellar or cellar, but where can I store potatoes in my apartment? It is necessary to choose a suitable place so that the crop does not rot, does not freeze, does not begin to germinate. You can store potatoes in a cool, dark place, be sure to limit the ingress of natural light from the windows.
- To dry. It is carried out immediately after harvesting – the potatoes are kept in the sun for a while (up to three hours) so that the moist, sticky earth lags behind the tubers. During this period, the places damaged during harvesting dry out, the root crops adapt to decomposition processes. The optimal drying temperature is from 12 to 18 ° C. The humidity is not higher than 95%. If the tubers begin to sprout, they should be removed.
- Maintaining the optimum temperature when preparing potatoes for storage is an obstacle to the spread of rot. If the room is warm enough, the vegetables quickly lose moisture, begin to fade, dry out and age. It is possible to prevent the development of fungi and bacteria that cause rot by wrapping potatoes with fresh leaves of wormwood, mountain ash.
How to store potatoes long term: Optimal conditions
Seasonal vegetables are available all year round. Many homemakers buy potatoes in small quantities as needed, store the product on the shelves of the refrigerator, in the pantry, or in the closet. But suppose you collect in your land, where there is no cellar, or buy several nets for storing potatoes in an apartment at the same time. In that case, you need to observe the optimal conditions in which the product does not lose its nutritional value and does not deteriorate. If you place the potatoes correctly, the storage time of the tubers increases significantly. It is necessary to maintain the recommended temperature and humidity, store vegetables in a well-ventilated area, periodically check for rot, remove sprouts. How to store potatoes long term for the winter in the flat? Provide optimal storage conditions for vegetables.
Storage of potatoes at home in the apartment should be based on maintaining optimal humidity in the room – 80-90%. High humidity and heat are a signal for the germination of young shoots that dry the crop. How to get the optimal humidity level:
- Periodically ventilate the closet.
- Provide vegetables with good air circulation.
- Do not store potatoes in places of moisture evaporation.
- Do not store the boxes near the walls where the condensate is collected.
- Tubers to absorb moisture.
- Do not store root vegetables with other vegetables except beets.
If you store potatoes in the kitchen, you need to make sure that the hood works well on the stove for cooking. When condensation settles on the potato skin, the tubers deteriorate, and young shoots can sprout.
How to store potatoes long term: temperature
Potatoes don’t like heat; freshness increases the conservation quality of the tubers. Even at the stage of sorting vegetables, it is necessary to separate the damaged vegetables and the small ones to use in the first place to select the large tubers: they will lie until mid-winter and leave the medium vegetables for long-term storage. The optimum temperature for storing potatoes in winter is 2-3 ° C, but the apartment is much warmer. How to get the desired indicator on the thermometer column:
- When the temperature drops to -2 degrees Celsius, bring the crop into the room.
- Choose the coldest places in the room, leave the container in the vestibule.
- Do not store the tubers near heating appliances, radiators.
- Check the temperature periodically, leaving a thermometer in the box with the potatoes.
So, at what temperature how to store potatoes long-term? With an optimal temperature regime and moisture, the potato lasts up to six months, otherwise – no more than a few weeks. At temperatures below two degrees Celsius, the product freezes and becomes unfit for consumption.
When preparing potatoes for long-term storage, it is necessary to conduct short-term light processing in the open air in the sun – no more than three hours. After that, the vegetables should be stored in a dark place. To keep potatoes in the apartment until spring, you should not allow natural light to enter the tubers.
Under the influence of ultraviolet rays, the toxic substance solanine accumulates in the tubers. As a result, the potato turns green, not suitable for consumption. If the vegetables are stored on a balcony or loggia, it is necessary to cover the containers or boxes with a cloth, additionally, shade with a piece of plywood. If potato sprouts, you need to pay attention to storing potatoes long-term in the apartment not to give young sprouts. It is necessary to maintain a constant mode of equal humidity and temperature.