How Long Do Potatoes Last? – Or How to Store Potatoes
Have you ever opened the pantry door, looking for potatoes to whip up for dinner tonight, only to find them sprouted, rotten, or otherwise just darn nasty? You’ll love this, then, because we’re all about helping you preserve those starchy veggies for later.
It can be tricky knowing how to store them, how long to store them, or even if they’re still safe to eat, thanks to their incredible hardiness and rugged texture.
But we’ve got good news. We’re going to tell you how to do all that, even how to store cut potatoes and how to keep away brown spots and sprouts.
How Long Do Potatoes Last?
There is no quick, exact answer to when you’ll wind up with spoiled potatoes. Generally speaking, raw potatoes can last for 1 to 2 weeks at normal room temperatures. When stored properly, they can last longer. Exact details – like humidity, temperatures, and light levels, etc. – will impact this, though.
In fact, if potatoes are stored properly – cool, dark locations – they can last up to 3 months. We’ll talk more about exactly how to do this below.
How Long Do Cooked Potatoes Last?
If you’ve whipped up some tasty mashed potatoes for the family dinner but have some leftovers, you can store these for a bit, too, thankfully. Mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, fries, etc. can be kept in the fridge for anywhere between 3 and 5 days, depending on how low the temperature is.
These same cooked potatoes could be kept in the freezer for up to 10 months if they’re kept at 0°F. The primary danger with this, though, is possible freezer burn because of the moisture in cooked potatoes. Make sure you drain any excess liquid first and don’t freeze and re-freeze. Keep them in an air-tight container.
How to Tell If Potatoes are Bad
The first question most of us have when it comes to potatoes is whether or not they’ve passed their prime or if they’re still safe to eat even if they’re not incredibly fresh anymore. There are a few obvious answers to these questions, but it’s actually kind of complicated overall.
Unfortunately, packaging with products can be confusing and misleading with their “sell by” dates rather than “use by” dates listed on the packages – if you can even find them. Asking employees at the grocery when the shipment came in may give a more accurate idea of how fresh the potatoes are.
The first and most obvious answer to “do potatoes go bad?”is that, yes, they do. Andyou can tell they have by the fact that potatoes have big ugly spots of mold or squishy points. Raw potatoes should never be soft or squishy.
Potatoes that are no longer safe to eat may also have a withered look to them – almost as if they’ve been baked for too long.
How Many Types of Potatoes Are There?
In the USA alone, there are over 200 types of potatoes sold. Overall, though, there are more than4,000 varieties of potatoes, many of which come from the Andres regions of South America. In Peru, for example, there are at least 400 varieties of potatoes.
In some nations, these amazing root vegetables are thefoundation for the diet of the people who natively live there. And there are, of course,historical moments based around these starchy, delicious veggies.
There are seven over-arching types of potatoes – and each type, though, similar in taste and looks, has its own unique properties which do affect how long they can keep in storage.
Does the Type of Potato Affect Shelf Life?
There are tons and tons of different potato varieties – more about this later – and the different types can affect how long a given potato will last in your pantry.
For example, fingerling potatoes have are one of the average-lasting potatoes. They do all right for up to 3 weeks before these potatoes expire in the pantry and possibly 2 months in the fridge. Yukon Gold potatoes last about the same amount of time. Red potatoes also last about the same time.
But sweet potatoes have a much longer shelf life. They last up to 5 weeks in the pantry or 3 months in the fridge.
Russet and white potatoes last up to 5 weeks in the pantry or 4 months in the fridge.
How to Store Potatoes Properly
There’s a fairly easy process for storing potatoes in the pantry so that they can last for weeks or even months.
Before you store them, you should remove them from the bag that they came in and inspect them. Look for mold, damage, soft spots, sprouts, etc. Any potatoes with these defects could rot and cause issues for the whole lot otherwise.
Next, find a cardboard box, paper bag, mesh bag, or a basket to store them in. Ventilation helps, so if you’re using a paper bag, don’t seal the bag shut.
Then, you need to make sure they’re kept in a cool place that’s between 45 and 55°F. This means, basically, somewhere warmer than the fridge but cooler than room temperature. This area should also be dark without any light exposure most of the time. An unheated basement is perfect for this.
Finally, check-in on the potatoes every now and again to make sure none have shriveled up or gone bad. Remove any that have bad spots, have shriveled up, gotten soft, or otherwise been discolored.
Additional Notes for Storing Raw Potatoes
Though it may be tempting to wash potatoes before they’re stored, resist the temptations. If they are wet or damp for some reason, dry them off with paper towels.
Keep potatoes away from any other produce items – even the ones that also do best in dark, cool places.
What If Your Home is Too Warm? Can You Keep Potatoes in the Fridge?
If you don’t have a root cellar or cool, dark pantry, and your house is too warm for storing potatoes otherwise, you do have the option of storing your potatoes in the fridge. You’ll have to take special care with them to keep them fresh and unspoiled, though.
The fridge will turn some of the starch in the potatoes into sugar, unfortunately, but that means your potatoes will be a bit sweeter than usual. They will also potentially turn darker if they’re fried in oil.
If you do keep them in the fridge, keep them in a plastic container with perforations for circulation. Make sure they are especially dry before storage in the fridge.
Can You Use Potatoes That Have Sprouted?
While we’d like to keep potatoes from growing thoselittle sprouts all over, you don’t have to worry too much if they start growing. It just means the potatoes would be suitable for planting. They’re still edible.
All you must do is cut out the sprouts and any small bad spots. I like to use the sharp, pointed end of the potato peeler to dig them out.
Sprouts and eyes do definitely need to be cut out, though, because they contain solanine and glycoalkaloids, which are toxic to humans, causing vomiting, headaches, and G.I. issues.
Can You Refrigerate Potatoes?
Ideally, you wouldn’t refrigerate a whole, raw potato. This will not only give them a sweeter taste but will cause them to darken when they’re cooked. If you keep them in the fridge, you need to make sure they’re in a plasticbag that has perforations in it to keep the potatoes ventilated. Block out light with a towel draped over the bag.
Can You Store Potatoes with Onions And Garlic?
Even though potatoes and onions and garlic are often served in a dish together, they should not be stored together – specifically should not be touching each other. They also should not be stored with fruit.
Why? Because onions, garlic, many fruits, and other veggies emit some chemicals that will make your potatoes rot.
Can You Store Cut Potatoes?
There are a few different ways to store cut potatoes. If you’ve gotten some ready for making fries, for example, but need to wait a day or several hours, you’ve got options.
First off, you can freeze cut potatoes. The important thing with this is making sure that the potatoes are thoroughly washed but then patted dry with a paper towel. They should then be sealed into an airtight container, such as a plastic zipper seal bag or lock seal plastic ware.
The correct temperature for the storage of frozen foods, by the way, is 0°F. At this temperature, the food won’t go bad. At higher temperatures, especially with possible thaw and re-freeze issues, you’ll likely have food that gets freezer burnt.
If you’re going to cook your fries or au gratin later, but don’t want to freeze the potatoes, you can also refrigerate them without them going brown.
Scrub the potatoes under cool running water to get rid of any dirt and debris. Then, cut them as you usually would and place them in a bowl and cover with cold water, plus an extra inch. Loosely cover the container with foil or plastic wrap.
Potatoes can be kept overnight like this, but not more than about 16 to 24 hours.
The Best Way to Keep Potatoes
To put it in a nutshell, you should do these things with potatoes to keep them fresh and safe to eat for weeks – or even months.
- Keep them in a cool, dark place.
- Never wash them before storing them, unless they’ve been cut and being kept in the fridge.
- They can be frozen or refrigerated, but special precautions must be taken to keep them from going bad or getting freezer burnt.
- To store potatoes long term, don’t keep them near any other produce.
- Sprouted potatoes are safe to eat, as long as you cut the sprouts and eyes out.
- Potatoes can last anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks in storage or possibly longer in the fridge if need be.
Follow these basic guidelines and you’ll find your potatoes last longer than ever.