How to Store Potatoes So They Won't Sprout

Here are the best ways to keep your spuds from spoiling too quickly.

A pile of potatoes on a table top
Photo: Richard Drury/Getty Images

There is arguably no vegetable more versatile, comforting, or loved than potatoes. Everyone tends to have their favorite type—from Russet, Yukon Gold, and red potatoes to fingerling and Japanese sweet potatoes—these root vegetables are essential for delicious home cooking, and with good reason. Being a potato devotee is easy, especially when you consider that one of the best things about them is their extended shelf life. In fact, when stored properly, these trusty taters can last for months (yes, you read that right). Keep reading for tips on how to store potatoes.

How to Store Potatoes

The key to making your potatoes last is to keep them in a cool, dry, dark place. Some ideal storing options include the pantry, a cardboard box, or a brown paper bag. If you want your spuds to truly thrive for as long as possible, keep them in a well-ventilated area that's about 50 degrees, and make sure they aren't exposed to sunlight. When potatoes get too much sun, they produce a toxic compound called solanine. Solanine can make potatoes bitter, inedible, and potentially nausea-inducing.

Can You Store Potatoes in the Fridge?

Sure, we just talked about how potatoes should be kept in a cool, dry place, but the fridge isn't quite that place. Not only is the refrigerator too cold of a climate for potatoes, but it will increase the amount of sugar in the spuds and produce a chemical called acrylamide, which is harmful. In other words, resist the urge to refrigerate your potatoes.

Can You Freeze Potatoes?

When it comes to preserving food, we usually turn to the freezer, but raw potatoes won't do so well in there either. Your best bet is to prepare your potato recipe—think mashed potatoes or tater tot casserole— and then store the finished dish in a freezer-friendly container to enjoy later.

Another option is to partially cook your potatoes, which will help remove some of the water from the spuds and make them less mushy when frozen. To freeze a whole potato or potato pieces, follow the below steps:

  1. Start by peeling the potatoes. While this step isn't necessary, it will make the next step much easier.
  2. Blanch the potatoes. To blanch your spuds, fill a pot with salted water and bring it to a boil. Once the water is boiling, place the potatoes in the pot. The blanching process, which depends on the size of the potatoes or potato pieces, should take between three and 10 minutes.
  3. Once the potatoes are blanched, remove them from the boiling water and immediately put them in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Let the potatoes cool completely.
  4. Move the cooled potatoes to a colander so they can drain. Once they have drained, place them in a single layer on a kitchen towel. To absorb any excess moisture, pat each potato dry with a paper towel.
  5. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on a lined cookie sheet. Freeze them for least four hours. They can also be frozen overnight.
  6. Once the potatoes are frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or storage container. Be sure to label it with the date so you know how long you have to use your potatoes.

The above method also works for freezing uncooked French fries. If your fries are cooked, however, simply begin with the fifth step.

Can You Store Potatoes With Onions?

Potatoes and onions pair perfectly in many dishes, but when it comes to storing them together—well, that's a big no-no. Keeping onions in a close proximity will expedite the sprouting process, meaning your spuds may soon be joined by some smaller potato friends. To keep your potatoes fresh and sprout-free, make you leave some room between them and your onion stash.

How to Store Leftover Potatoes—Including Mashed Potatoes

There are few things in life more delicious than leftover potatoes. Whether they're mashed, baked, or fried, spuds tend to taste even better the next day. If you're so fortunate to even have leftover potatoes, keep them in the fridge for up to four days or in the freezer for up to 12 months.

Believe it or not, cooked mashed potatoes freeze quite well. This is because the fat from the butter and cream actually helps mashed potatoes retain their texture. To freeze mashed potatoes, follow the below steps:

  1. Make sure the mashed potatoes are completely cooled before you begin the freezing process.
  2. Transfer 1-cup portions to a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for at least four hours. Mashed potatoes can also be frozen overnight.
  3. Once the potatoes are frozen, move them to freezer-safe storage bags labeled with the date.

While some potato dishes can stay in the freezer for up to a year, aim to eat mashed potatoes within two months since they (typically) contain dairy and won't stay fresh indefinitely.

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