Homesteaders for years tried different ways to store their hard work, which now come as a saver to this generation.
The way you cultivate, growing medium and harvesting method, all affects the storing capacity of your potatoes. However, after harvesting plays vital role in increasing shelf life of potatoes.
Small home gardeners who grow only few pounds of potatoes face no problem, as they can drop the harvest in kitchen tray and use it coming days without any issue.
If you’ve bounty of potatoes from your backyard (or you bought farm fresh potatoes from local market) and you’re not selling them to anyone, then you must check out the best way to store your harvest.
How to Store Potatoes after Harvest? (5 Best Ways)
There are few things to take care before harvesting, so that your spuds don’t sprout or get wrinkled skin in short time.
Naturally, potatoes have inhibits sprouting for 30 days. But, after that warmer climates make potatoes to sprout.
Below mentioned are few important aspects to look while harvesting potatoes.
- Stop watering your potato plants for two weeks prior harvest.
- Vines need to dry, which you can reuse for compost or just throw them away.
- While digging for potatoes, make sure you don’t damage the spuds with digging fork.
- If you want to preserve your potatoes, avoiding washing them. Moisture will damage the potatoes.
- Cure potatoes before shifting them to root cellar or any container.
- After curing remove (use in your kitchen) the potatoes that are damaged.
- Also avoid storing apples and pears with potatoes; because they release ethylene gas that can sprout potatoes.
- Sunlight makes potatoes turn into green color. So, your store place should be dark and warm.
- While placing potatoes in the cardboard box, wooden or plastic container make sure that potatoes don’t touch each other.
- Every week check your stored potatoes to make sure they aren’t rotting or sprouting.
Also Read: How to Make Compost from Kitchen Waste at Home?
5 Steps to Store Potatoes for Long Time after Harvest
Depending on number of days you’re planning to store, there are many ways to store potatoes. However, below mentioned way is simple yet effective way.
Follow these simple steps and you can save your days of hard work.
Step: 1 Finding a Suitable Place for Storing Potatoes
There are different foods storing options available in your home. At Motherearthnews.com, you’ll find interesting discoveries like placing in laundry basket, egg cartons, cloth grocery bags, burlap bag or an old dresser.
Only thing you must make sure is of the optimal temperature. Potatoes don’t sprout in dark, cool environment with 45°F to 50°F.
If you don’t have root cellar, choose a corner of your house with stays dark and cool.
Step: 2 Harvesting Potatoes/Buy Potato varieties that known for long shelf life
With optimal temperature you can store most potato varieties up till 6 months. University of Oregon State, recommend below varieties for longest storage.
Russian Banana Fingerling, Kennebec, Elba, Katahdin, Rose Finn Apple Fingerling, Red Chieftain, Yukon Gold, Yukon Gem, Burbank Russet, German Butterball, Red Pontiac and All Blue. (Source)
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Step: 3 Curing: How to Cure Potatoes for Storage?
Depending on the variety you choose to grow, potatoes have thick to think skin. Curing is the process which helps your potatoes to develop thick skin.
If you’re harvesting variety of potatoes, then it’s recommended to cure them separately.
Before curing, remove the excess soil attached to the potatoes. No need to wash. But, if the soil is sticky clay then you may need to wash in running water with no scrubbing.
After washing, make sure to dry them before storing.
Cure harvested potatoes for 10 days in dark, well-ventilated area with moderate temperature.
Curing thickness skin of potatoes and they will last for longer days.
Also Read: How to Grow Taro Root in Containers?
Step: 4 Choose Covered Boxes or Containers to Store Potatoes
After curing and before shifting them to containers, examine spuds closely and remove the damaged tuber.
You can store it any container with holes for ventilation. A cardboard box will be ideal.
- Spread shredded paper or dry hay in the box and place cured tuber in it, such a way that they don’t touch each other.
- Put another layer of dry hay or shredded papers on top of tubers. Now, similarly place second layer of cured potatoes.
- Likewise you can fill the container with layers of dry hay and cured potatoes till the container is full.
You can take as many boxes as you want, depending on your harvest.
Step: 5 Regularly Check Potatoes
After couple of weeks check your potatoes and remove if you find rotting tubers.
You can usually find it by sour smell.
This way you can preserve your home harvested potatoes for longer period. If in case you find sprouting, remove and either use them if they aren’t green in color or plant them for next season.
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Bonus: 5 Best Ways to Store Potatoes
As mentioned earlier, there are different ways that can be used to store potatoes. Above motioned is one such way, other ways are listed below.
#1 Root Cellar Storage Option
This is the traditional and most used method to preserve potatoes.
If you don’t root cellar, you can choose a corner in your room with dark and cool temperature.
This is the same method that I mentioned above in this article.
#2 Reburying Potatoes
If you’re looking to store potatoes for short period and want to use them in the fall, then rebury newly harvested tubers back in the soil.
For this, you must dig 6 inches deep trenches. Spread the layer of newspaper and dry hay in at the bottom of the soil and now place newly harvested spuds without touching each other.
Similarly to root cellar method spread another layer of newspaper or dry hay. On top of dry hay layer place layer of potatoes, till you reach surface of the soil.
Soil must be loose and make sure that you aren’t digging the potatoes in the same place where you’ve grown them, because leftover rotted plants will damage your stored potatoes.
You must save them from rain water, else they will starting sprouting or rotting.
Also Read: Do Tomato Seeds Need Light to Germinate
#3 Freezing Sliced and Blanched Potatoes
If you’re planning to sell your harvesting, this method isn’t recommended. Obviously, not many people prefer peeled and sliced tubers for their dinner.
However, for small harvest you can try this method.
It is effective and allows you to enjoy your home grown potatoes for over a year. Better storage than root cellar method.
- Wash your potatoes to remove excess soil.
- Peel and slice them and drop them in a container of cold water. Also, make sure they are submerged in water.
- This will stop them from turning brown.
- Chop slices in similar size; this will help you while cooking.
- Now, drop sliced potatoes in hot water for 4-5 minutes.
- Shift them into a bowl of ice water, use slotted spoon for this process of shifting.
- Once they are cooled; drain the potatoes and place them in freezer bag.
- Vacuum sealer will remove the air from freezer bag and this will avoid spoiling of potatoes.
- After sealing with vacuum sealer, place them in refrigerator.
Defrost them, 24 hours before cooking.
#4 Canning Potatoes
In the process of storing potatoes, you’re asked to remove damaged tubers. If you don’t want to use them and instead store them for few more months, then you can try canning them.
Using canning you can preserve spuds for longer time. Also, this method of storing will save your time while cooking. All you need to do is first learn the process of canning, which is very simple.
You can read the process here or watch the video.
I’ll try to brief you the process here.
You’ll need pressure canner, 7-9 canning jars, 2-3 bowls, strainer and canning tools (peeler, lid lifter, bubble popper and funnel)
- Initially, wash canning jars with warm water.
- Prepare potatoes by washing, peeling and chopping into similar pieces.
- Wash the sliced potatoes in cold water for 2-3 minutes.
- Strain sliced potatoes and shift them to warm water for 5 minutes.
- In the mean time keep another bowl filled with water till is rolling boil. This water is used in the canning jars.
- Now, potatoes that are kept in warm water for 5 minutes need to be shifted to canning jars.
- Fill the jar with cleaned boiling water. Use bubble popper to remove any air blocked in the canning jar.
- Add lids and place canning jars in pressure canner.
- Follow the directions of pressure canner. After this process, allow them cool by removing it from the canner using canning jar lifter.
- Label and use them within 1 year.
#5 Dehydrating Potato Flakes
This is another method of preserving your potatoes, but it won’t be in the same form and will be confined to fewer dishes.
However, you can save few of your potatoes in this form.
You can get the complete info about the process with images here.
- After washing and peeling your potatoes, boil them in water till you can easily mash them.
- Use blender to mash them.
- Now, dry thin layer of mashed paste on paper.
- After 36 hours, check to see the flakes are breakable.
- Now, grind them and save them in our jars.
How to Stop Potatoes from Sprouting in Storage?
Potatoes sprout when exposed to sunlight. So keep them in dark and cool environment.
Also, maintain optimal temperature of 40 to 45 degree Fahrenheit.
How to Stop Potatoes Going Green in Storage?
Good air circulation, humidity and optimal temperature will avoid potatoes from turning green.
Potatoes turn green when they are exposed to light, because of solanine. So, avoid this. Store them in dark & cool corner.
The way you harvest has major impact on storing your potatoes.
If you damage most of your tubers while digging then you should opt for canning method to preserve them, instead of root cellar.
Maintaining optimal temperature is essential to store potatoes.
Above mentioned are different ways and every method has it pros and cons. Which method you’d like to use to preserve your harvest?