potatoes...the best keeper

suzin28(5)January 10, 2010

I will be planting potatoes again this year....I would like to know what kind of potato is the best kind that will keep the best and the longest...

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It is not so much a case of knowing which one will keep the longest as it is to know how to properly store potatoes.

The oldest way of storing potatoes is to place them in a wooden box, dump in a bag of lime, and place them in a basement or cellar where it is cool and slightly damp most of the time. This will keep most potatoes for up to 6 months. If you want to store them longer, refrigerated storage is best. This means to keep them just above freezing for up to a year.

So choose the varieties you want to grow and then learn to store them properly. I like Kennebec for an old standard that is widely adapted and is excellent for fried potatoes, french fries, and potato soup.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 12:20AM
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In September I harvested about 120lbs of potatoes, both Yukon Gold and Russett Burbanks. Now, 4 months later I'm down to about 35lbs and they are still keeping well. Some of the Burbanks are starting to soften, but still within acceptable limits. The Yukon Golds however are as firm and juicy as the day I pulled them out of the ground.

As DarJones indicated though, storage conditions are key. I have a dedicated cold room to keep them in. While conditions are not the ideal 36F and 90% humidity, it keeps it close to freezing and I have a mister running on a timer to provide humidity during the cold and dry Canadian winter.

Under the right conditions, you can expect potatoes to last between 6 and 8 months.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 7:36AM
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bart1(6/7 Northern VA)

I grew 7 different varieties and stored them all the same way...some in my garage and some in a neighbor's root cellar.

The varieties were:

Adirondack Blue
Adirondack Red
Yukon Gold
Red Thumb
Russet Burbank
La Ratte

My worst keeper is La Ratte. They start sprouting the quickest, like about 20 seconds after I dig them up!

The best keepers are Red Thumb, Russet Burbank and Kennebec. Those are just starting to sprout now.

The others are somewhere in the middle, but if I had to put them in order of quickest to sprout to slowest it go like this:

ADK Blue
Yukon Gold

So for my little non-scientific experiment where all the potatoes are stored in the same location the order of worst keeper to best keepers goes like this:

La Ratte
ADK Blue
Yukon Gold
Red Thumb
Russet Burbank

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 7:44AM
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By far, my best keeper has been a fingerling called Purple Peruvian, purple skin and flesh.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 1:55PM
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Thanks to you all..I appreciate your help...

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 4:31PM
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I harvested some last july and I still have some in my frig, lower fruit box.
Being dry is better than wet, that won't rot.
The most important factors are "COOL" and "DARK" conditions. I have Idaho (traditional) and purple. Purples seem to be doing even better. They have lost some moisture(skin layer) but never rotted or sprouted.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 8:23PM
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Fision power:

Who told you you dump in a bag of lime? I sure wouldn't want to eat potatoes that were steeped in lime.

We have grown potatoes for 40 years. We keep them in our coolish basement--it is by no means a cold cellar, just a basement that is partitioned off under the stairs but still has places the basement air can get in.

We store them in bushel baskets set on a shelf 6 inches off the floor, and put a layer of newspaper in top. The newspaper is to keep the light out so they won't sprout easily. They keep nice and firm until the weather turns warmer in late March--early April in our zone 3. Then they start turning softer. My husband has to sprout them once before we compost the rest. He may save a few for seed but mostly we buy new seed potatoes.

We have found that the reds and purples are the best keepers, but only marginally. We don't grow them for keeping but for growing conditions.

We grow Red Chieftan---because they produce better in wet weather
We grow the yellow Superior--because they produce better in dry weather
We grow Kenabecks because they produce in most weather.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 8:53PM
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Storing in lime is how my great great grandmother kept her potatoes. The lime inhibits growth of most molds and such. It is dry lime, not wet. Here is some more info on storing potatoes in a root cellar.

When the green tops on your potatoes die off, the potatoes can be harvested. If you are experiencing hot weather at this time, you may want to keep them in the ground for a few weeks longer, until temperatures go down to 60-70F. The potatoes can then be dug up and cured in the shade for two weeks. Do not cure in the sun, as this will produce toxic, solanines (nightshade). This will turn your tubers green, and harmful to eat-especially for babies and pregnant or nursing moms; so please cure in shade only. Just remove excess dirt from the potatoes, as a layer of dirt helps extend their life; on NO account, wash them! When your potatoes are cured, you can move them to the root cellar. They keep best with high humidity of 90%, in a temperature of 38-40F. This temperature slows respiration, delay their sprouting, and will ensure the starch doesn't convert to sugar. Store them in a bin or a pile covered with straw or burlap--NOT plastic, to stop water condensing on the potatoes. These potatoes will now keep from four to six months in your handy root cellar.

As a side note to the above, potato storage facilities are kept at 36F.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 10:19PM
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In my opinion lime is unnecessary and adding something unpalitable to potatoes. Your grandmother must have stored them in a very damp place. In 40 years I have never had mold and the only ones that have rotted is the occasional one that had already started on the inside before they are picked.

I don't know who wrote that but I don't believe a much of it. I would never leave my potatoes outside for 2 weeks. Even in the shade you run the risk of them turning green if they get some sun.
We try to dig ours when the soil is dry. In our area it is cool in September so that is a good time to dig. We used to store ours without washing until the dirt started to bother my allergies and we started washing them. We found not much difference in the keeping and it sure cuts down on the dust in the house. The skins are on them pretty tight by then. My husband lays them on the grass in the shade of the building and washes them with a gentle spray with the hose. When they are dry on one side he turns them over, so the skins are thoroughly dry when we put them away.

Ours are kept at a slightly higher temperature with a very much lower humidity than you state. I would think 90% humidity would cause mold and rotting. Ours keep from September to April a good 6 months although by April they are starting to go a little soft.

I would never use straw to cover my potatoes, it is too messy. Burlap would be Ok but why not use newspaper. It's free and what we have used since we started growing a garden.

This is experience talking not something I've read.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 4:18AM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

I once looked at a list of perhaps a half dozen sites on the commercial storage of potatoes. They were all propitiatory sites with the details hidden from nonmembers but the little snippets extracted by the search engine showed all used circulation to remove something, it would appear it might be carbon dioxide, and cool temperatures. Other details were hidden from me.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 11:54AM
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Tried the straw thing last summer. Had one row hilled with loose, light soil. Had the other row hilled half heavy, clayish soil, the other half with straw.

The size of the potatoes in the light soil was significantly larger. There were quite a few tipping the scales at 3.5-4lbs each. The ones in the heavier soil were much, much smaller. The ones in the straw suffered badly from slug and mouse/mole damage and had more instances of green than those in the soil.

This year, it is light soil hilling for all of them with a layer of newspaper.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 2:55PM
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If anything is ventilated, I suspect it would be ethylene. That's a gas, given off by fruits, vegetables and flowers, and it's a "ripener". It will activate the buds to sprout. I have apple trees around my g'houses and when we have bounty years and lots of drops, you can almost see the flowers ripening on the benches. We have to shove them to a compost away from the g'houses with a front end loader.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 12:12AM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

In the case of potatoes ethylene is a sprout inhibitor. Old timers tried storing potatoes with oranges to increase the ethylene and inhibit the sprouting. That didn't work - commercially - perhaps we should try it again at the kitchen level.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 2:32PM
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I think you'll find in more modern controlled experiments, ethylene did accelerate sprouting.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2010 at 7:01PM
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It is ethylene they are ventilating. Any reference on root cellaring will tell you not to store potatoes and apples together for that reason. The apples give off enough etylene gas to cause sprouting of the potatoes.
BTW cabbage and onions also off gas ethylene.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2010 at 12:44AM
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heavyoilguy(Z2 ALBERTA)

Was wandering, the long tubers that are coming off my seed potatoes right now , Should I break these off at planting time ? if so completely off or part of it , And if not should these point up or down in the hole,

    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 1:19PM
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wiringman(ZONE 4)

i love it guys. all you have to say is potato and then sort out the info.

i think there is a lot of good info here.

however we stored all our root crops in the root caller and they did just fine. we also stored our apples in there too.

we did store the apples there but we did wrap each apple with a page to the Sears and Roebucks catalog. i don't know if that helped the the out gassing or not but it did contain any bad apples from rotting other apples.

in the spring at planting time we broke off the eyes and plants the potatoes and guess what, we got more potatoes. maybe it was just dumb luck.

the eyes are just an indicator that the potatoes are still alive.

i know that is enough down home wisdom for one day.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 8:15PM
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heavyoilguy, It seems too early for your zone to have sprouted seed potatoes now. Certaily you cannot keep them for that long. So go ahead anD snip thMe off and discourage sprouting for couple of months, or untill a month before planting time. The sprouting should be done in normal lighting so the potato skin and the sprouts get green, NOT PALE PELLOW/WHITE.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 6:43AM
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As bart mentioned, there are so many potatoes genres but the matter of fact is that the longness of potatoes depends mostly on how you store them...The difference between different genres is not too much if you store them all the same way...

So instead of thinking type better think of good storage ways..

The best way i would suggest is to take a metal container as rodents cant harm that and put stock of pruned tomatoes into it..make it air tight and dig that in soil about 5-8 feets down.

Set a flag as indication. Potatoes will survive easily upto 6 months..That my personal way of storing potatoes :)

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 3:52PM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

rsg that would take dynamite here in AR.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 1:03PM
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Something completely different: I pressure can bunches of mine. Don't peel them only cut the ones that won't fit in a jar otherwise. Six months later they are still great for French Fries, Home Fries, Mashed, in soups or potato salad - just about anything except baked - and if I had a huge one, I would try that.


    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 2:50PM
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For those that store them -

I have a little cut-out in the side of my basement wall with a door and it is surrounded by other foundation blocks.

The temperature in there seems to stay around a constant 55 degrees with humidity of around 65%. Would this be a good place to store potatoes or will they not last due to it being too warm? It is fully dark since there is a door to open into the area.

Here is a link that might be useful: BsnTech Gardening Blog

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 3:27PM
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jonas302(central mn 4)

bsn sounds like you have a built in root celler my basement runs around 50 degrees and potatoes will last an easy 6 months without any special effort

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 11:59PM
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Great news. Thank you jonas!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 10:13AM
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Ronniger's has some great info about potatos (they should, they sell them! =) ) You can view their catalog at the link below... growing and storage guide, basic diagrams of "root cellars", and the variety descriptions will tell you which ones store best... generally the long-season ones.


Here is a link that might be useful: Ronniger's

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 9:44AM
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