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Storing Potatoes

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5 replies to this topic

#1 DanM

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 05:33 AM

A local organic farm had a bumper crop this year. I was able to buy a 30 lbs sack of reds, blues, whites, and russet type heirlooms at $1/lbs. This should last the winter, assuming they dont go bad first. What is the best way to store them? I am thinking about putting them in beer cases with a layer of news paper between the layers. The boxes will then be left on a shelf in the garage. Can they be chopped or shredded and frozen in vac bags?

Edited by DanM, 13 November 2012 - 05:34 AM.

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

#2 naguere

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 07:03 AM

Your garage sounds the best place, think about putting the boxes on the floor where it will be cooler. The darker, the better . the only other ways to prepare spuds for long term storage is canning or potato flakes, which is not very practicable at home. If you can find out about the varieties and their storage capability, for instance 'Main Crop' can be good through the winter, but 'Mids' and 'Earlies' should be consumed quite quickly . It would be a good idea to check their condition occasionally . Good luck.
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#3 mrsadm

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 08:34 AM

I grew up on Long Island, where potatoes were stored in "potato barns" - they were built into the earth to keep the crop as cool as possible, without freezing, and in the dark. Sounds like you have a nice crop.
"Did you see what Julia Child did to that chicken?" ... Howard Borden on "Bob Newhart"

#4 loki

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 12:44 PM

They use those potato barns here too - Utah and especially nearby Idaho. Some are enormous. Most are not completely underground here, but mounded with 10 feet of soil on top or so. It's a huge root cellar.

I put them in a room that's unheated - with an outside wall made of uninsulated concrete. I put them in a large plastic container - about 25 lbs of them per container - so they are about 3 deep. The container is not air-tight - but keeps in a bit of humidity. They love cool storage with no light (this room had no windows); and relatively high humidity. I bought mine in Idaho - and they were 50 lbs for $10. They are growing Yukon Gem which are a great potato for my uses. I grow heirloom potatoes too, but had a crop failure this year. Before you store them, they need to be cured or dried a bit. Usually this is already done. You can tell easily by seeing how easily the skin rubs off. Rub the potatoes a bit and if the skin stays in place they are cured, if not keep them in a dark place for awhile and let them dry a little more. Oh - don't wash them either. This will introduce small breaks in the skin which will lead to rot. Maybe I'm too late with this one. If they are washed you may dry them a bit a recure in warmer dry temps so they produce a scab over any breaks in their skins.

The humidity thing is important. Here in Utah, we have very low humidity, but my room has relatively high humidity in the winter, but not quite enough hence the cover on the potatoes. Other places may vary - but you want it about 80 percent. The humidity in the container is probably more like 95 percent (which is what the Idaho Potato people recommend).

Cold temps will make the potatoes a bit sweet, which I don't mind and consider 'normal', as that's how potatoes taste in the winter. Others think it's wrong. Variety matters here, some don't do this nearly as much as others. Also, the colder the more this will happen. So if you don't want them this way - bring a stash out of the cold (but still in the dark) to return to normal non-sweet starchiness, and replenish this from your cold-stored ones. In a kitchen cupboard works. It usually takes a couple weeks. Always keep them out of the light. I think grocers are getting more and more cavalier with this and I've bought green skinned ones that are ruined - or need excessive peeling. The green parts are toxic and taste terrible (not usually toxic enough to really do damage - but who needs any toxins!).

Freezing them - you must first blanch them first to 'cook' a bit and also to breakdown the enzymes or you will have unappetizing gray mush. Otherwise they freeze really well! There are lots of resources on this out there. Drying also works - but again you must blanch them first.

#5 rotuts

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 01:09 PM

thanks. great tips. ive seen those 'barns' on L.I. but i bet in Idaho they are huge.

I put my limited number of small russets in my basement which is cold. and dark. but in the past Ive had trouble with sprouting.

we will see!


#6 loki

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 10:14 AM

I found this Storing Potatoes at Home which is a pdf from Idaho. It pretty much says what I said (I'm glad). The colder the potatoes are stored the less likely they will sprout. I've definitely seen great differences in cultivars too - some seem to sprout after a month, while others could go for several months before sprouting. I've probably grown and stored for seed about 50 different cultivars: heirloom, modern, and old commercial cultivars. Commercial potatoes are often treated to prevent sprouting - but I would not do this. Lastly - this is something I've found to sort of refresh sprouted potatoes - cut off the sprouts and soak the potatoes in water overnight - in the fridge. They will crisp up and then be a bit better for cooking. If you are boiling them for mashed potatoes or putting in soup or stew this is not really necessary, but for baked, or fried potatoes, this can help with the texture.