How long before potatoes go bad?

Quick Summary

Potatoes can last 1-2 weeks in the pantry, 3-5 weeks in the refrigerator, and up to 12 months in the freezer. Proper storage is key for maximizing potato shelf life. Store potatoes in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place. Avoid moisture, heat, light exposure, and refrigerator doors opening which can cause faster sprouting and spoiling. Watch for signs of spoilage like sprouting, shriveling, mold, soft spots, and green tint. Spoiled potatoes should be discarded.

How Long Do Potatoes Last?

The shelf life of potatoes depends on the storage method. Here is an overview of how long potatoes last with proper storage:


1-2 weeks

Store potatoes loose or in a paper bag in a cool, dark, dry, well-ventilated pantry or cupboard. Keep away from light which can cause greening. Ideal pantry temperature is 45-60°F.


3-5 weeks

Store whole, unwashed potatoes in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator. Keep away from the fridge door which gets opened frequently. The ideal refrigerator temperature is 35-40°F.


10-12 months

Store peeled, cut, or mashed potatoes in airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags. Optimal freezer temperature is 0°F or below.

7 Factors that Shorten Potato Shelf Life

There are several factors that can cause potatoes to spoil faster. Watch out for these common potato storage mistakes:

1. Heat Exposure

High temperatures above 60°F cause potatoes to sprout and rot faster. Avoid hot spots like near the oven, in direct sunlight, or next to heating vents.

2. Light Exposure

Light exposure causes potatoes to produce chlorophyll, leading to green spots and a bitter taste. Store potatoes in the dark.

3. Refrigerator Door Opening

The temperature fluctuations from frequent opening of the fridge door can hasten sprouting. Store potatoes in a basket towards the back of the fridge.

4. Moisture

Dampness from condensation or high humidity leads to mold growth. Store potatoes in a dry spot with good air circulation.

5. Damaged Potatoes

Injuries, cuts, and bruises allow microbes and fungi to invade. Inspect potatoes and remove any with damage before storage.

6. Storage with Fruits

Fruits like apples, pears, and tomatoes release ethylene gas that accelerates sprouting in potatoes. Keep potatoes separate from fruit.

7. Improper Food Handling

Cross-contamination, inadequate cooking, and temperature abuse can introduce bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella leading to faster spoilage. Practice proper food safety techniques when preparing potatoes.

7 Signs of Spoiled Potatoes

Watch for these indicators that potatoes have gone bad:

1. Sprouting

Sprouts or shoots growing from eyes indicate potatoes are past their prime. Even if sprouted, potatoes can still be safe to eat if sprouts are removed.

2. Wrinkling/Shriveling

Potato skins will become wrinkled, shriveled, and soft as moisture is lost over time. Discard any extremely shriveled potatoes.

3. Mold Growth

Fuzzy mold growing on potato surfaces signals spoilage. Mold can vary in color from white to gray, green, or black. Discard moldy potatoes.

4. Soft Spots/Breakdown

Soft, watery areas that cave in under gentle pressure indicate microbial action. Toss potatoes with significant soft spots.

5. Green Tint

Green, grey, or black areas under the skin result from light exposure. Green potatoes can have a bitter, undesirable taste.

6. Off Odors

A rancid, chemical, musty, or sour stench means potatoes are decaying. Trust your nose and discard foul smelling potatoes.

7. Liquid Leaking

Potato juices oozing out of sides or ends signals advanced breakdown internally. Leaking potatoes should not be consumed.

How to Store Potatoes for Maximum Freshness

Follow these potato storage tips to extend shelf life:

Curing After Harvest

– Cure freshly harvested potatoes 1-2 weeks in a dark, dry spot around 60°F before long-term storage. Curing helps thicken skins and prolong dormancy.

Choosing Good Specimens

– Select firm, smooth potatoes without cuts, bruises, or green spots. Size does not affect quality. Avoid potatoes with sprouts.

Cleaning and Drying

– Gently brush off loose dirt but do not wash potatoes until use. Ensure potatoes are completely dry before storage.

Proper Storage Temperature

– Maintain an ideal consistent temperature of 45-60°F for pantry storage, 35-40°F for fridge storage, and 0°F or below for freezer storage.

Airflow and Humidity

– Ensure good ventilation. Avoid moisture buildup by using perforated bags or containers. Sprinkle baking soda to absorb excess humidity.

Dark Storage Area

– Keep potatoes in a cool, dark space. Light accelerates greening and solanine toxin production. Store away from windows and artificial light.

Separating from Other Produce

– Store potatoes by themselves, away from ethylene-producing fruits and vegetables which hasten sprouting.

Organizing by Use Date

– When refrigerating, keep newly stored potatoes towards the back. Bring older potatoes up front to be used first.

Checking Frequently for Issues

– Inspect potatoes weekly and remove any that are sprouting or damaged. Monitor for signs of decay like mold, shriveling, and foul odors.

What to Do with Sprouted Potatoes

Sprouting is one of the first signs of aging in potatoes. Sprouts develop from the “eyes” and can grow several inches long. Sprouted potatoes are still edible if handled properly:

– Cut off all sprouts completely. The sprouts and green skin can contain solanine, a toxin.

– Wash and peel potatoes well since soil bacteria can enter through sprouts.

– Cook sprouted potatoes thoroughly to at least 165°F internal temperature. Heat destroys solanine.

– Do not eat sprouted potatoes raw. Avoid frying at high heat which can increase solanine concentration.

– Discard potatoes with sprouts over 1/2 inch long which likely have high solanine levels.

– If potatoes have a bitter taste after cooking, do not consume them. The solanine content may be too high.

Can You Freeze Potatoes to Extend Shelf Life?

Freezing is an excellent method for prolonging the shelf life of potatoes. Here are some freezing tips:

Potato Prep

– Choose fresh, firm potatoes without sprouts, spots, or decay. Peel and cut into desired size pieces.

– Blanch cut potatoes 2-3 minutes in boiling water or steam to inactivate enzymes. Cool promptly in ice bath.


– Drain blanched potatoes well and pat dry. Pack into airtight containers or freezer bags, removing as much air as possible.


– Freeze potatoes immediately at 0°F or below. Arrange bags flat to freeze faster.

Storage Time

– Properly frozen potatoes can last 10-12 months before quality decline. Label bags with date.

Thawing and Cooking

– Thaw potatoes in refrigerator overnight. Avoid thawing at room temperature which allows bacterial growth. Cook thawed potatoes immediately.

Uses for Frozen Potatoes

– Baked potatoes – thaw, crisp skins at high heat
– Mashed – thaw, heat, and mash with milk and butter
– Home fries – thaw, pan fry with oil to brown
– Soups, stews – add frozen potatoes to hot liquid

Potato Storage Chart

Storage Method Temperature Humidity Shelf Life
Pantry 45-60°F Dry, good ventilation 1-2 weeks
Refrigerator 35-40°F Perforated plastic bag 3-5 weeks
Freezer 0°F or below Airtight container 10-12 months

Food Safety and Potatoes

When storing and preparing potatoes, follow food safety guidelines:

– Discard potatoes that are sprouted, shriveled, or moldy. Do not consume green potatoes.

– Store potatoes separately from onions, garlic, and fruits which release gases that hasten sprouting.

– Wash hands before and after handling potatoes. Avoid cross-contaminating foods with potato juices.

– Scrub potatoes and peel before cooking, especially if sprouted. Cook sprouted potatoes thoroughly to destroy potential toxins.

– Do not leave potatoes at room temperature over 2 hours. Refrigerate cooked potato dishes promptly.

– Reheat cooked potatoes to 165°F. Do not consume if potatoes have an unusual odor or appearance after cooking.

– Practice “Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill” for all produce:

Clean – Wash all produce thoroughly before eating
Separate – Keep fruits and vegetables separate from raw meat, poultry, and seafood
Cook – Cook to proper internal temperatures
Chill – Refrigerate perishable foods promptly

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do potatoes last in the pantry?

1-2 weeks is the typical shelf life for potatoes stored in a dark, dry pantry around 45-60°F. Check frequently for sprouting.

How long do potatoes last in the fridge?

Refrigeration at 35-40°F extends the shelf life to 3-5 weeks. Store in a perforated plastic bag in the vegetable drawer, away from the door.

Can you freeze raw potatoes?

Yes, raw potatoes can be frozen for 10-12 months at 0°F after being blanched. Prepare potatoes, blanch 2-3 minutes, cool, dry, and freeze.

Can you eat sprouted potatoes?

Sprouted potatoes are safe to eat if sprouts are removed and potatoes are washed, peeled, and thoroughly cooked. Deep frying sprouted potatoes is not recommended.

Why do my potatoes turn green in storage?

Green color under the skin results from exposure to light. Chlorophyll and potentially toxic solanine develop. Discard severely green portions.

How do I store cut potatoes?

Cut raw potatoes can be stored in water in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. For longer storage, prepared potatoes should be frozen.

Can potatoes be stored at room temperature?

No, room temperature accelerates spoilage. Potatoes should be stored at consistent cool temperatures of 45-60°F in a pantry or 35-40°F in the refrigerator.


With proper storage methods, potatoes can last 1-2 weeks at room temperature, 3-5 weeks refrigerated, and 10-12 months frozen. The keys are cool, stable temperatures, adequate ventilation, darkness, and low humidity. Avoid moisture, heat, light exposure, physical damage, and contamination when handling potatoes. Monitor frequently for signs of spoilage like sprouting, wrinkling, mold, odors, and slime. Discard any potatoes exhibiting decay. Follow sound food safety practices when preparing potatoes to prevent foodborne illness.

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