Digging Up and Storing Potatoes for the WinterBy
Remember how I talked about planting potatoes? Now it’s already time to dig up the potatoes! It’s one of my very favorite things to do!
Here are a few tips for digging up and storing potatoes:
- Once the plant turns crispy and brown and dead, the potatoes under the ground are finished growing. ( I suppose this is obvious.)
- When the plant is crispy, you can leave the potatoes under the ground for several more weeks and they will be fine. This will toughen them up a little, which is good.
- On the other hand, if you’re experiencing a lot of rain, you want to get the potatoes out of the ground so that they don’t rot. Rotten potatoes don’t make good french fries.
- Use a big spade or potato fork to dig up your potatoes. Look for the base of the plant, then dig several inches away from the base. There are likely to be four to eight potatoes with each plant.
- Occasionally you will stab a potato with your spade or potato fork. This is a bummer…and also kind of funny. Throw those stabbed potatoes into a separate box and eat these potatoes first.
- Green potatoes can make you sick. Potatoes turn green when they are exposed to light. Some people say to throw away any potato that has even a little green on it. I just cut off the green part and eat the rest. I have lived to tell about it.
- Russet or kennebec potatoes store the best for a longer period of time. We usually eat up our red potatoes and yukon gold potatoes first and keep the brown potatoes in storage longer.
- To prepare your potatoes for storing, lay them singularly on a newspaper or old sheet in a darkish room. Cover them with another newspaper or sheet and let them sit this way for about a week. This will help “harden them off”. Their skins will toughen up, which will help them keep longer.
- After your potatoes have been hardened off, put them into covered boxes or baskets. We usually put about 15-20 pounds in each box.
- It is VERY important that the containers for your potatoes do not allow any light in. Light will cause the potatoes to sprout. Without light, potatoes will not sprout for months.
- Place your containers in a dark, cool room. We have a room in our basement that has been great for storing potatoes. It doesn’t have windows to allow any light in. It is cool but not cold.
- Cold potatoes will “sugar”. That’s why you don’t put potatoes in the refrigerator.
- You may want to occasionally sift through your potatoes to check for any that may be rotting. One rotten potato can cause the whole box to rot. It stinks (literally).
- Potatoes will keep well for several months if stored correctly. Ours usually last until about March, at which time we use the remaining potatoes for our seed potatoes!
Sometime in the next few weeks we’ll be dumping out our potato container to see how it did! I can’t wait to see if we have a whole bunch of potatoes in our bucket (and I’m trying not to get my hopes up just in case they didn’t grow well). I’ll share pics of that experience when we get around to it!
This post is linked to Kitchen Tip Tuesdays.