How To Store Potatoes (5 Key Factors To Consider)


If you are looking to store potatoes for the long term, don’t worry – there are ways to do it, as long as you follow the right steps.

So, how do you store potatoes?  To store potatoes, stop watering just before harvest. Let the vines die back, dig the potatoes gently, keep them out of sunlight, and clean with a soft brush (no washing). Use damaged potatoes first. Cure potatoes 7 to 10 days, then store at 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit in a cool, dark, humid place.

Of course, late season potatoes tend to last longer than early potatoes, and thick-skinned potatoes tend to last longer than thin-skinned ones. So, the variety you choose has an effect on storage time.

In this article, we’ll talk about how to store potatoes, including which varieties store best and the steps you can take to preserve potatoes for a long time (5 to 10 months!)

Let’s get started.

The Complete Guide To Growing Potatoes Cover

The Complete Guide To Growing Potatoes


A complete reference and an ultimate guide that teaches you everything you need to know about potato selection, planting, care, harvest, and storage.

How To Store Potatoes (Best Way To Store Potatoes)

To store potatoes for the long term, you really need to start before harvest. In fact, you can even start before planting – by choosing the best potato varieties for storage.

baby potato plant
Getting potatoes to keep for a long time begins before you even plant!

Keep this list handy for when you order next year’s seed potatoes for planting:

Which Potatoes Keep The Longest? (Best Potatoes For Storage)

Here are a few guidelines for which potatoes store well, according to Oregon State University Extension:

  • White or yellow potatoes keep longer than red ones.
  • Thick-skinned potatoes keep longer than thin-skinned ones.
  • Late season potatoes keep longer than early season ones.
Yukon Gold potatoes
Potatoes with thicker skins keep longer than those with thin skins.

Of course, there are exceptions – some early potato varieties store fairly well.

Here is a list of 17 potato varieties that are great for storage in the long term:

  • All Blue
  • Burbank Russet
  • Elba
  • German Butterball
  • Katahdin
  • Kennebec
  • Lehigh
  • Natascha
  • Pinto Gold
  • Purple Viking
  • Red Chieftain
  • Red Pontiac
  • Russian Banana Fingerling
  • Satina
  • Strawberry Paw
  • Yukon Gem
  • Yukon Gold
Yukon Gold Potatoes
Yukon Gold is one potato variety that stores well for a long time.

You can learn more about each of these varieties here.

No matter which potato varieties you choose, there are ways to make them last longer.

Steps To Store Potatoes

To store potatoes and make them keep, follow the steps below:

1. Stop Watering Plants

The first step is to stop watering plants just before harvest. This will cause them to toughen up a bit, making them store better.

watering can
Stop watering potato plants just before harvest. This gives tubers a chance to toughen up for storage.

Potato tubers are mostly water (80 percent by weight), so they should be able to withstand a brief period without water before harvest.

2. Let Potato Vines Die Back

Let the vines on the potato plant die all the way back before harvesting. When vines start to turn yellow and die back, this is a good sign that the tubers are getting close to maturity.

potato vines fallen over
Wait until the potato vines die back completely before you harvest tubers.

However, if the plant still has green on it, then there is still the possibility that the tubers can grow a bit more. Also, the skins may thicken up a bit over the course of several days, which helps to increase storage life.

3. Check Skin Thickness (But Harvest Before Frost)

Dig up one or two potatoes from beneath a plant. If the skin rubs off easily, then they have not matured fully, and they won’t store as well.

Give the potatoes more time to mature, unless an impending frost demands immediate harvest. Potato plants can survive light frost, but heavier frost might be a problem.

frost
You can wait for potatoes to mature and get thicker skins, unless a hard frost or freeze is on the way.

According to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a heavy frost (lower than about 30 degrees Fahrenheit or -1 degree Celsius) will reduce potato quality and decrease shelf life.

Repeat this process for other potato plants if you are growing different varieties. Times to maturity vary (you can find them in seed catalogs or online), so plan accordingly.

4. Dig The Potatoes

Once you are satisfied that the potato skins are thick enough, harvest the tubers. Dig them up carefully, treating them like eggs.

garden grip gloves
Use gloves and dig for potatoes by hand if you want to avoid cutting or scraping them with shovels, trowels, etc.

Avoid any cutting, scraping, or bruising by dropping or rough handling. Wear gloves and dig with your hands to avoid damage from tools like trowels, shovels, or pitchforks.

The Complete Guide To Growing Potatoes Cover

The Complete Guide To Growing Potatoes


A complete reference and an ultimate guide that teaches you everything you need to know about potato selection, planting, care, harvest, and storage.

5. Keep Potatoes Out Of Sunlight

Do not leave harvested potatoes out in direct sunlight. Otherwise, they will turn green (due to chlorophyll) and toxic (due to solanine).

green potatoes
Potatoes left out in sunlight will turn green (due to chlorophyll) and toxic (due to solanine).
Image courtesy of user: Rasbak
via Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Groene_aardappels_%27Dor%C3%A9%27_(Solanum_tuberosum_%27Dor%C3%A9%27).jpg

Instead, put the potatoes in a bucket as you harvest them. Then, bring the bucket inside (or cover the bucket if you need to leave it outside).

Remember not to store potatoes in a place where they are exposed to light – otherwise, the same thing can happen indoors (leading to green and toxic potatoes).

6. Separate The Potatoes

First, set aside any damaged potatoes (bruised, scraped, cut, punctured, attacked by insect or animal pests, etc.) and use them first (or discard them if they are rotten or too damaged to eat).

Next, separate the undamaged tubers by type. Generally, thick-skinned tubers will last longer in storage than thin-skinned ones. Late season potatoes will last longer than early season ones.

Potatoes 6
Separate potatoes by type and store them in separate bins. Use up the short-lived potatoes first, and leave the long-storing potatoes for later.

So, store different types of potatoes in separate bins, and use the early or thin-skinned potatoes first. Save the late or thick-skinned potatoes for longer storage.

7. Cleaning Potatoes For Storage

Clean your potatoes well before storage (but do not wash them). Use a soft bristle brush to dust off the dirt.

brush
Use a clean, soft brush to gently clean dirt off of potato tubers before storage.

If you must wash them, dry them well before putting them into storage (a fan might help with this). Washing potatoes without drying them increases the chances of rot in storage (which can spread to other potatoes, even if it starts with only one).

8. Curing Potatoes For Storage

Cure potatoes for 7 to 10 days in a dark, humid area with good ventilation. Curing potatoes will give them a chance to heal small cuts or bruises while they thicken their skins. This will make them last longer in storage.

To cure potatoes, keep them at a temperature of 45 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (7.2 to 15.6 degrees Celsius) and relative humidity of 85% to 95% for 2 weeks.

red potatoes
After you clean potatoes, cure them at 45 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit and 85% to 95% humidity for 2 weeks.

If you don’t have an area with such high humidity, put the tubers in perforated plastic bags. This will increase humidity while still allowing the potatoes to breathe.

Once again, go through the cured potatoes and discard any that are soft or shriveled. If they rot in storage and the rot spreads to other tubers, you will lose much more than the potatoes you throw out now.

9. Store The Potatoes (What Temperature To Store Potatoes?)

Put the potatoes in a container with good ventilation/air flow (avoid storing them near apples – they will release ethylene gas, which promotes potato sprouting).

The best temperature to store potatoes for the long-term is at 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 to 7.2 degrees Celsius). Choose a dark place to prevent the tubers turning green and toxic in sunlight.

russet potatoes
Store potatoes in a cool, dry place. High humidity will prevent shriveling, which happens in dry conditions.

A container with holes for air circulation, placed in a garage, might work well (be careful about unheated garages – do not allow potatoes to freeze, or the flesh will turn grey or black!)

(You can learn about other reasons that potatoes turn black here).

According to Ohio State University, refrigeration is not a good idea for potatoes.

Remember that higher humidity will prevent shriveling (which occurs due to water loss when the air is dry).

According to Oregon State University Extension, storing potatoes below 45 degrees Fahrenheit can cause sugar buildup (due to the potato starches converting to sugar). This extra sugar can affect how the potatoes cook (for example, the flesh will look darker after cooking).

On the other hand, storage temperatures that are too high may encourage potatoes to sprout earlier than normal. This is good if you want to plant them, but it is bad for storage.

sprouted potatoes
Storage temperatures that are too warm will cause potatoes to sprout.

Eventually, the sprouts will grow and use up all of the energy (starch/sugar) in the potato tuber, leaving nothing left for you to eat!

If a potato sprouts, you might still be able to eat it, as long as you cut away the sprout and any bad parts – you can learn more here.

10. Monitor The Potatoes

Be sure to check on your potatoes every once in a while when they are in storage. If you see any that look like they are going bad, remove them from the storage bin to prevent the spread of mold or rot.

Look out for potatoes that are

sprouted potato
If some of your potatoes get moldy, soft, shriveled, or sprouted, move them away so you don’t lost any other tubers.

If the potatoes are sprouting, you might be able to plant them to grow more plants – you can learn more here.

Putting Lime On Potatoes For Storage?

There is no need to put lime on potatoes. If you follow the steps outlined above, your potatoes will keep in storage for months.

The Complete Guide To Growing Potatoes Cover

The Complete Guide To Growing Potatoes


A complete reference and an ultimate guide that teaches you everything you need to know about potato selection, planting, care, harvest, and storage.

Conclusion

Now you know what steps to take to store potatoes for the long term. You also know what varieties store best to keep potatoes even longer.

I hope you found this article helpful.  If so, please share it with someone who can use the information.

You can learn about heirloom potatoes, what they are, and some interesting varieties here.

Potato leaves are toxic, as well as other parts of the plant – you can learn more here.

You can learn all about main crop potato varieties here.

You can get an idea of how many potatoes to expect per plant here.

You can find a recipe for twice baked mashed potatoes here.

To find gardening books, courses, and more, check out The Shop at Greenupside!

Jon M

Hi, I'm Jon. Let's solve your gardening problems, spend more time growing, and get the best harvest every year!

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