What is the way to store home grown potatoes?

Storing home grown potatoes properly is key to preserving freshness and preventing sprouting. There are a few key things to keep in mind when storing potatoes from your garden:

Harvest at the Right Time

Potatoes should be harvested when the plant and leaves die back and turn brown. Avoid harvesting too early, as the potatoes will not store well. Use a fork to loosen the soil and carefully dig around the base of each plant to find the potatoes. Allow any excess dirt to dry before storing.

Cure Potatoes Before Storage

It’s important to cure potatoes after harvesting. Curing helps heal any abrasions and promote longer storage. To cure, keep potatoes in a dark, dry area with good air circulation and temperatures around 60-70°F for 1-2 weeks. Avoid curing in direct sunlight which can cause a green coloring and bitterness.

Choose a Proper Storage Area

The ideal storage location for potatoes is a cool, humid, dark space around 40-50°F. The temperature should remain as consistent as possible. Avoid storing potatoes in areas that reach freezing temperatures. Basements, cellars, and insulated cabinets or closets work well for potato storage when maintained properly.

Use Containers that Allow for Ventilation

Store cured potatoes loosely in bins, boxes, or baskets that allow for air flow. Do not store potatoes in sealed plastic bags or containers, as this can lead to excess moisture and sprouting. Make sure containers have holes or slits for ventilation. Paper, wicker, wood, and wire mesh all make good potato storage containers.

Inspect Potatoes Regularly

Check on your potato supply every 2-3 weeks. Look for any signs of rotting or sprouting. Remove and use any potatoes that are sprouting or feel soft when squeezed. The remaining potatoes should last many months when stored properly in a cool, dark space.

Prevent Exposure to Light

Light triggers potatoes to produce chlorophyll and turn green. This can give potatoes a bitter taste. Be sure to store potatoes away from any light sources and do not wash them prior to storage. Keep containers or bags closed or covered to block out all light.

Consider Storing in Sand or Soil

Burying potatoes in sand, sawdust, or loose soil can extend their storage life even further. This technique keeps potatoes in complete darkness and provides insulation to prevent freezing. Store cured potatoes in a container layered with damp sand, sawdust, or soil and keep around 40°F.

Watch Humidity Levels

The ideal humidity level for stored potatoes is 90-95%. Levels that are too low can cause potatoes to shrivel, while high humidity encourages rotting. Use a hygrometer to monitor humidity and make adjustments as needed. Adding bowls of water can increase humidity in dry storage areas.

Do Not Wash Before Storing

It is best not to wash potatoes that will go into storage. The extra moisture can lead to rot and growth of bacteria or fungi. Gently brush off any remaining dirt instead. Potatoes should only be washed right before preparation and eating.

Avoid Storing Damaged or Diseased Potatoes

Any potatoes that are bruised, cut, or injured should be used right away rather than going into storage. Damaged areas are prone to decay. Also, discard any potatoes that show signs of disease, such as bacterial or fungal growths. These can quickly spread to other potatoes in storage.

Consider Storing Early and Late Varieties Separately

Potato varieties are categorized into early, mid, and late season. Early varieties do not store as long as late varieties. For longest storage, keep late season potatoes like russets separate from early potatoes like new potatoes or fingerlings.

Store Away From Certain Fruits and Vegetables

Some fruits and vegetables release ethylene gas which can cause potatoes to sprout early. Keep potatoes away from ethylene-producing foods like apples, bananas, tomatoes, onions, and garlic. Store these foods in separate storage areas if possible.

Use Sprouted Potatoes Quickly

If potatoes do start to sprout, use them as soon as possible. Carefully remove any sprouts or green spots. The potatoes should still be fine for cooking or eating immediately after trimming sprouts. Avoid letting sprouts grow longer than 1/4 inch.


Following proper harvesting, curing, and storage methods allows home grown potatoes to stay fresh for many months. The keys are maintaining cool temperatures around 40-50°F, plenty of ventilation, high humidity, and complete darkness. Storing potatoes in containers that allow airflow and regularly checking for sprouting or rotting potatoes will also extend their shelf life. With the right storage conditions, home grown potatoes can last through winter until the next year’s crop is ready.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best temperature to store potatoes?

The ideal storage temperature for potatoes is 40-50°F. This cooler temperature prevents sprouting and keeps potatoes fresh for longer. Avoid storing potatoes in an area that reaches freezing temperatures.

Should potatoes be stored in the fridge?

No, potatoes should not be stored in the refrigerator. The cold, dry environment of a fridge can cause a potato’s starch to convert to sugar, resulting in a sweet taste and discoloration when cooked. It’s best to store potatoes in a consistently cool root cellar, basement, or other dark space.

How do I prevent my potatoes from sprouting?

To prevent sprouting, store potatoes in complete darkness around 40-50°F. Check potatoes regularly and remove any that are sprouting. Avoid washing potatoes before storage, as moisture encourages sprouting. Maintaining proper storage humidity and ventilation also minimizes early sprouting.

What causes potatoes to rot in storage?

Potatoes most commonly rot due to excess moisture or disease. Storing in containers that lack ventilation, washing potatoes before storage, and high humidity can all lead to rotting. Damaged or diseased potatoes are also prone to decay. Regularly inspect potatoes and discard any that appear rotten.

How do I know if a stored potato has gone bad?

Signs that a potato has gone bad include sprouting, green coloring, wrinkling, soft or mushy spots, mold, and foul odor. Discard any questionable potatoes instead of eating them. Bad potatoes should be thrown out to prevent rot from spreading.

Can potatoes be frozen for storage?

Freezing raw potatoes is not recommended for long-term storage, as this can negatively impact texture and cause discoloration. However, cooked mashed potatoes and dishes like potato casseroles can be frozen for 1-3 months. Let cool completely before freezing.

What causes potatoes to turn green?

Greening in potatoes is caused by exposure to light. The green color comes from development of chlorophyll. Prevent this by storing potatoes in complete darkness. Green potatoes may have a bitter taste but can be safely eaten if the green portions are removed.

How long do potatoes last in the pantry?

Storing potatoes in a cool, dark pantry can extend shelf life for 2-3 months. For longer storage of 5-8 months, a root cellar or basement provides better conditions. Check pantry potatoes more often for sprouting and rot.

What is the best way to store cut potatoes?

Wrap cut potato pieces tightly in plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate for 1-2 days maximum. For longer storage, cook cut potatoes or dice them and place in an airtight container in the freezer. Cook frozen diced potatoes directly in soups or stews.

Can sweet potatoes and regular potatoes be stored together?

No, sweet potatoes and regular potatoes should be stored separately. Sweet potatoes prefer warmer temperatures around 55-60°F. Storing them together with regular potatoes can lead to spoilage and faster sprouting of both types.

Should I rinse potatoes before storage?

Rinsing potatoes before storage is not recommended, as the moisture encourages sprouting and can lead to rotting. Gently brush off dirt instead. Only wash potatoes right before preparation for cooking or eating.

Common Potato Storage Problems

Problem Cause Solution
Sprouting Exposure to light, warm temperatures, high humidity Store in cooler, darker conditions. Remove sprouted potatoes.
Shriveling Low humidity, dehydration Increase humidity levels in storage area.
Rotting Excess moisture, disease, damage Improve ventilation, discard rotten potatoes immediately.
Greening Light exposure Completely block out light, trim green areas before cooking.
Bitter taste Greening, age, incorrect storage temperatures Cut away green portions, store at 40-50°F.

Being aware of potential storage issues and their solutions allows for quick identification and resolution. Follow proper harvesting, curing, ventilation, temperature, humidity, and light blocking guidelines for long-lasting home grown potatoes.

With the right harvesting techniques, storage conditions, and a little maintenance, home gardeners can enjoy fresh potatoes from their backyard crop through the winter months until early spring. The ideal potato storage environment combines cool but above freezing temperatures, high humidity, darkness, and plenty of air circulation. Avoid common problems like greening, sprouting, shriveling, and rot by inspecting potatoes regularly and removing any that show signs of spoiling. Storing different potato varieties separately can also optimize shelf life. When handled properly, home grown potatoes can last for 5 months or more after harvest.

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