A few years ago I harvested my first crop of potatoes. We kept digging and digging, finding more and more! I couldn’t believe how much a few rows produced! But then I realized our family couldn’t eat all of this right away! How would we store the potatoes so this great harvest didn’t end up rotting before we could eat it?
How do I store these potatoes?
Simple enough question, right? It turns out, this wasn’t such an easy question to answer. The resources I found suggested different methods. But one common thread emerged: potatoes like dark, humid, ventilated, and cold conditions — cold, as in 30 to 50 degrees fahrenheit.
What? I harvested these potatoes in July.
Dark and ventilated? Doable.
Humid, no problem.
Cold? No way.
When You Don’t Have a Root Cellar
Yes, yes, a root cellar is ideal. But in the South I guess root cellars aren’t a thing. At least they weren’t when we were building our house. And despite my attempts to beg my husband to build me one (that would double as a tornado shelter…hello?), he wasn’t buying it. (He made a statement about how we could buy a lot of potatoes with what it would cost to build a root cellar slash tornado shelter…yada yada….)
So naturally I thought of my refrigerator. But apparently that isn’t the best way either. Though it is cold, dark, and can be humid, it isn’t ventilated. One site recommended putting a bowl of water and a small fan in the fridge.
Now that’s just getting too complex for me.
With all the professional – and best – solutions not working out so well, I decided to come up with something myself.
Where in my home is it the coldest, darkest, most humid, and fairly well ventilated?
Using a Pantry (Or Closet) to Store Potatoes
We have concrete floors, which helps with the cooling in our oppressive Arkansas summers. What if I placed the potatoes on the floor in the pantry? It’s as cool and dark as anywhere else in the house. It’s humid (everywhere is humid here), and with the occasional opening of the door throughout the day, it’s ventilated.
After letting them cure in the garage for a week (see instructions below), here’s what I did: I placed them only one layer deep in shallow plastic bins and placed the bins directly on the pantry floor. I’m not sure how many pounds I had that first year, but they kept for several months, almost until our fall harvest.
The following year, since I harvested more potatoes (35 pounds), I used 2 bins and stacked a plastic shoe rack and an elevated cookie tray to create a second level. (If the potatoes are stacked directly on top of one another, they will soften with the weight and will rot quicker.)
It’s not ideal. I may end up having to learn how to freeze potatoes or try my luck with homemade potato flakes eventually. But I know this method will keep me in fresh potatoes for many months — in my hot climate without a root cellar.
Because sometimes you just have to improvise.
How to Store Potatoes in a Hot and Humid Climate
Plastic bins (ventilated bins work best)
1. Immediately after harvesting potatoes, lay them on a newspaper in a garage or indoors, in a single layer. (Potatoes must be kept out of direct light. If it is a well-lit room, cover with another sheet of newspaper.)
2. After 1 week, gently brush off remaining dirt (DO NOT WASH!) with a soft-bristle brush or soft washcloth.
3. Transfer to plastic bin and place in a single layer. Place bin on the bottom of the pantry or non-carpeted dark room. The cooler the better. Use as needed.
*In my experience, storing potatoes this way will keep for 3-4 months. Check often and if you smell a foul odor, find the soft (or rotten) potato and remove immediately. Also, gently press on them weekly to make sure they aren’t growing soft. For those that are, use immediately.
How do you store your potatoes?
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