There are two things that make us love potatoes so much: their versatility and their low cost. You can pretty much have them with any meal, as long as it’s not a salad or another side dish — what other vegetable can you say that about? But, with such cheap and accessible prices for these starchy tubers, how do you know when a potato is bad? There are many reasons why a potato might go bad. Potatoes grow in soil; the same soil that grows bacteria. If a potato is stored at the wrong temperature, icky things could happen to it. If you learn how to store potatoes correctly and remain vigilant of any signs of rot, they can last longer than you think.
How Do You Know When A Potato Is Bad?
The best way to tell if a potato is bad is to inspect it. A bad potato will be soft, shriveled, and produce a strong odor. Avoid discolored potatoes as well as any that have sprouted. To prevent spoilage, store potatoes in a cool, dark place with plenty of ventilation.
What Signs Of Bad Potatoes?
There are a few signs that your potato has gone from savory to rotten. Look out for changes in color, texture, and smell. Some common signs of a bad potato are:
- Black spots or mold on the outside of the potato – This is a sign that the potato has gone bad.
- Shriveled skin – If the skin starts to shrivel up as if it was dried out, that means the potato went bad.
- Rotten smell – You can smell if the potato has gone bad. If it smells rotten, that means it’s gone bad.
- Soft spots – A potato will get soft if it’s gone bad, but that doesn’t mean you should eat it. It might also be old.
- Discoloration – A potato might turn black or blue from being stored in the wrong conditions.
How To Store Potatoes For Longer?
The first thing to note is that potatoes should be kept dry. Humidity is the enemy of starchy tubers. If they get wet, they can rot quickly. Keeping your potatoes in an open container in a dry environment, like a shed or garage, is a good first step. For extra protection, you can dust them with a light layer of an inert mineral. You can find instructions for making a homemade desiccant (a substance that removes moisture from the surrounding air) online. Keeping your potatoes in a bag or box that can be left open to the air will speed up their rate of drying out, making them a little less vulnerable to mold growth.
Potatoes love the light, but they do not love being left exposed to the sun. When exposed to direct sunlight, they can quickly turn green, which means they are growing toxic chemical compounds that can be harmful to humans. This is usually a sign of disease and a sign that the potatoes are rotting. Any place that isn’t in direct sunlight is a good place to store potatoes. While the nice thing about open space is that it’s easy to check your potatoes for signs of disease or spoilage, you’re also exposing them to light that can accelerate their spoilage. You can store them in a box or bin in a dark garage, basement, or cellar.
Wrapping in newspaper
If you’re storing your potatoes in a box or bag, you may notice that they start to sprout. Sprouts are the beginnings of new potatoes growing. They’re a great thing to find on your potatoes, but they can also be messy and are the first sign of them rotting. To prevent your potatoes from sprouting, you can wrap them in the newspaper. Newspaper is naturally porous and a great way to prevent excess moisture, light, and warmth from getting to your potatoes. If your potatoes do start to sprout, you can simply remove the newspaper and compost it with the sprouts still attached. You can also fold the newspaper over the potatoes so it’s covering both sides.
Roots down stem up
Potatoes that are stored for long periods of time (3 months or more) will start to grow eyes and create new potatoes, which is a good thing! However, you can speed up this process by storing your potatoes slightly on their side with the “stem” or “root” facing up. You can store them standing up or laying down, but most guides recommend storing them on their side because it prevents the potatoes from getting crushed when you’re moving the pile. This is particularly important once the potatoes start to sprout. When they’re sprouting, they’re using only the energy they need to grow, leaving less for protecting the rest of the potato from rot.
If you have an abundance of spuds and want to really maximize the amount of time they stay fresh, cold storage is your best bet. Cold storage keeps your potatoes at a few degrees below freezing, slowing their growth to a crawl. This method requires a bit of forethought, preparation, and space, but it’s a good option for anyone who has the room or cash flow to invest in creating a dedicated root cellar. You also have a bit more flexibility when it comes to choosing the varieties you want to store long-term because you’re not as worried about specific harvest dates.
How Long Do Potatoes Last?
- Potatoes will last longer depending on their freshness when they’re purchased. Once you get them home, you’ll want to make sure you store them correctly so they last as long as possible.
- Potatoes will last anywhere between 3 to 5 months.
- If you are storing your potatoes for a longer amount of time, lowering the temperature and increasing the darkness will help them last longer.
Tips To Help Keep Your Potatoes From Going Bad
- Store Potatoes in a Cool, Dry Place – High temperatures and humidity are the two main things that cause potatoes to go bad. Make sure that you store your potatoes in a cool, dry place. Keeping them away from windows and in the dark will help to keep them from sprouting and going bad.
- Keep the Potatoes out of the Bin Bottom – The best way to store your potatoes is in a basket or on a shelf. This will help to keep them away from the bin bottom, which is one of the main causes of potatoes that go bad.
- Rotate Your Potatoes – Make sure to regularly rotate your potatoes. If you are keeping them in a basket or on a shelf, you should take them down and put them back in the bin every other week or so. By rotating your potatoes, you will be able to keep them fresher for longer.
There are many reasons why a potato might go bad. If a potato is stored at the wrong temperature, icky things can happen. If you learn how to store potatoes correctly, you can keep them fresh for longer. The best way to store potatoes is in a dark, cool, and dry place. Once they’ve purchased, you’ll want to make sure you store them correctly so they last as long as possible. Following these steps will help you keep your potatoes fresh for as long as possible.