Potatoes are one of the most versatile foods around. They’re a side dish, an appetizer, and the star ingredient in hundreds of dishes.
While potatoes can be kept for weeks when properly stored, they can also go bad quickly if you don’t pay attention to some simple guidelines. Read on to learn the best way to store potatoes and how to tell when a potato has gone bad.
What Are Potatoes
Potatoes originated in the Andes mountains and were domesticated by indigenous peoples there at least 7,000 years ago—possibly even as long as 10,000 years ago. From South America, potatoes spread to other parts of the world via trade and exploration.
The potato plant is a herbaceous annual with underground tubers. It has stems above ground which produce leaves and flowers. The leaves are green with white flowers that are usually self-pollinating (meaning the plants don’t need to be near other potato plants for pollination). The flowers produce berries that contain small seeds. These seeds are rarely harvested since potato tubers grow far more easily from cuttings or from bits of tubers planted in soil.
Potatoes are a type of root vegetable that humans have been cultivating for more than 8,000 years. In fact, they are the world’s fourth-largest food crop, after rice, wheat, and maize. They are round and brown and grow in the ground. They can be eaten cooked or raw, but they are always cooked before they are sold at the grocery store. Potatoes were once considered to be unhealthy, but recent studies have shown that this is not the case. However, potatoes do have a lot of carbs, which most people try to limit in their diet.
One medium-sized potato with the skin provides 27 mg or 70% of the recommended daily value (DV) of vitamin C. This vitamin is an antioxidant, which helps to prevent damage to cells by free radicals and may help protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease. Vitamin C also helps the body absorb iron from plant foods such as beans and whole grains.
A medium-sized potato with the skin provides 620 mg or 18% of the DV for potassium. Potassium is a mineral that is needed to maintain fluid balance in the body, to transmit nerve impulses, and to regulate muscle contractions, including your heartbeat. Potassium helps lower blood pressure because it counteracts sodium’s harmful effects on blood pressure.
A medium-sized potato with the skin provides 3 grams or 11% of the DV for dietary fiber. Dietary fiber is important for maintaining digestive health and preventing constipation. A diet high in fiber may also help lower cholesterol and glucose levels, thus providing some protection against heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Additionally, a large study conducted by Harvard University researchers found that women who ate at least five servings of potatoes per week had an increased risk of developing kidney stones based on their intake of oxalate (a component in potatoes).
5 Best Ways To Store Potatoes
Potatoes are one of the most common vegetables in any kitchen. It’s a versatile vegetable that can be cooked in hundreds of ways, and they’re also packed with vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. They are delicious in every form—whether baked, fried, or mashed.
But as with any food, there’s a right way to store potatoes so they last longer and stay fresher.
Here are five tips to help you store potatoes the right way:
1. Don’t Store Potatoes In The Fridge
Your potatoes will last longer if you store them somewhere cool and dry, but not in the fridge. This is because the cold temperature will cause the starch in the potato to turn to sugar, giving it a sweet flavor that’s unpleasantly noticeable when you cook it. The best storage for your home-grown spuds is a loft, where the temperature is relatively constant and not too hot or too cold.
2. Always Use A Paper Bag
Potatoes shouldn’t be stored in plastic bags. Instead, transfer them to brown paper bags for storage. The bags should be well-ventilated to prevent moisture from building up inside. This is a great way to keep potatoes fresh for a long period of time.
3. Don’t Wash Your Potatoes Before Storing Them
Washing your potatoes before you store them can shorten their shelf life, as this introduces excess moisture that encourages premature sprouting and rotting. Wait until you’re ready to cook with the potatoes before washing and peeling them.
4. Store Potatoes In A Cool, Dark Place
The ideal storage temperature for potatoes is 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit (7-10 degrees Celsius). Any warmer than that, and they may begin to sprout; any cooler, and they may freeze or begin to develop a sweet taste due to the conversion of starch into sugar. Be careful not to leave your potatoes out on display at room temperature, however. Don’t store them in direct sunlight, and if you’re concerned that your potatoes might get too warm, store them in a cool dark place.
5. Store Potatoes For No More Than One Year
When storing potatoes for the long term (beyond a year), should be stored in a paper bag and kept away from heat and light.
How Can You Tell If A Potato Is Bad Or Spoiled?
The shelf life of potatoes depends on a variety of factors, such as the sell by date, the preparation method, and how they are stored. Because of their high moisture content, potatoes must be stored in cool dark areas to prevent sprouting and shriveling.
Potatoes that are still in good condition can be eaten after they reach the sell by date or even the use by date if they have been properly stored.
The first thing you should do to tell if a potato has gone bad is to look at it. A bad potato will have a soft and spongy texture and will feel light for its size. Sometimes a bad potato will have an off smell or color, but this is not always present. It is important to remember that all potatoes are slightly different, so it is possible that sometimes you may see an off smell or color in your potatoes even when they are fresh.
One of the first signs of spoiling in potatoes is sprouting, which occurs when the eyes begin to grow shoots. Sprouted potatoes should still be safe to eat, just cut off the sprouts and any soft spots before cooking them. If you notice any green coloration on your potatoes you should throw them out because this indicates that they have been exposed to too much light and have begun to turn. If your potatoes have a green tint to them but do not show any signs of sprouting or rotting, you can still eat them but it is best to cut out the green parts.
Are Potatoes Expensive?
Potatoes are generally not expensive. They are one of the most inexpensive forms of starchy foods you can buy, and they certainly have a lot of nutritional value. You can usually buy a five-pound bag of potatoes for under $2. Depending on where you live, you may be able to buy them even cheaper than that.
How To Use Potatoes
Potatoes are a staple in many kitchens, and for good reason. They’re a vegetable with no fat or cholesterol, but they’re packed with potassium and vitamins. The potato is rich in complex carbohydrates, which give you energy without sending your blood sugar into a tailspin.
The potato is versatile enough to be used in everything from breakfast to desserts, so it’s definitely not just for french fries and baked potatoes. Here are a few foods you can make using potatoes.
Breakfast: Baked potatoes can be made into hash browns or used as the base of an omelet; they can also be mixed into pancakes and waffles to add bulk and flavor.
Lunch: Instead of mashed potatoes, try mashed sweet potatoes. Add a little butter, salt, pepper, and cinnamon for a sweet side that tastes great with pork chops or fried chicken.
Dinner: Use your leftover baked potatoes to make potato cakes (use the same ingredients as pancakes). Make sure the potatoes have been refrigerated so they’re cold when you put them in the pan. Serve them with ketchup or ranch dressing instead of syrup!
How long do potatoes last?
Potatoes can last for up to several months in a cool pantry. If stored at room temperature, they are best if eaten within one to two weeks. Once cooked, keep them in the fridge for no more than three days. – WebMD
How do you store potatoes so they don’t sprout?
Store potatoes with an apple to avoid early sprouting. Keep them away from onions and in a cool, dark place. The ethylene gas given off by an apple will prevent potatoes from sprouting while keeping onions nearby will actually cause them to sprout.
Can you freeze potatoes?
Potatoes don’t freeze well raw, so they will need to be cooked or partially cooked beforehand. The great thing is that you can choose a variety of different ways to prepare and freeze them. Try these methods with white, sweet or even purple potatoes. Always use potatoes that are fresh.
If you don’t plan to use them within a week or so, your potatoes are best kept somewhere cool and dry, but not in the fridge. The cold temperature will cause the potatoes’ starch to convert to sugar, giving them a sweet flavor that’s unpleasantly noticeable once you cook your potatoes.