Friday, May 31, 2013

Storing Potatoes

This year I got a bumper crop of potatoes and I am not sure how store them for consumption later.  I planted red and white potatoes and a few Yukon Gold at different times hoping that they would mature at different times.  They all matured at the same time.  Although we do eat potatoes several times a week and we give some away too.  It is apparent that I do have to come up with a solution to store the potatoes.

One year, I let them stay in the ground and used them as needed.  The end result was that the potatoes developed roots.  In other words, they were beginning to grow a new crop.  It wasn't the best idea to leave them in the ground for the hot summer.

I read somewhere that you could dig a large hole in the garden,  fill it with straw, and store the potatoes in the ground that way.  It sounded all right to me so I called the seed store and asked if they had any bales of straw for sale.  They said that the straw would be available in September-November time frame.

Another year, I stored the potatoes on newspaper on the floor in the garage.  The problem with that storage is that the garage gets very hot in the summer time, enough to heat the potatoes.  They started to rot rather quickly so that is not the best idea either.

This year, I plan to dig up the potatoes and let them "harden" or "cure" for a few hours in the sunshine.  Some people recommend a much longer time for letting the juices settle; for the potatoes to dry up a little before storage or for the skin to harden.  They will store better and longer after such a curing period.

It is recommended that the dirt be brushed off ever so gently before storage.  But do not wash the potatoes at all.  This is to let the potatoes retain their protective coating:  dirt, skin, and all.

It is all right to keep store bought potatoes in the fridge.  They have already been cured and processed against sprouting.  If potatoes from the garden is stored in the fridge, they have a tendency to turn "sugary," so I have heard.  Some say that they don't and others question this obviously.  Potatoes are starchy and starch will turn into sugar etc etc.  One person didn't believe that potatoes became sugary when refrigerated.  He said that they just turned cold.  So much for scientific data.

I have some boxes that fruit was stored in at the Farmer's Market and I plan to use them to store the potatoes.  They already have plenty of holes to let the air circulate.  Paper bags with air holes will also do well.  In addition, I plan to wrinkle up newspaper to put among the potatoes to keep them from touching each other.

Finally, I plan to put the boxes in the hall closet in the house where it is dark and cool.  It is important that the potatoes be kept in the dark to keep from sprouting.  I will also check on the potatoes from time to time to make sure that they remain firm and healthy.

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Have a great weekend!

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