Potatoes are a versatile and nutritious staple food that can be prepared in many ways. However, potatoes can spoil quickly if not stored correctly, resulting in food waste and unnecessary expenses. Here are ten tips to help ensure your potatoes last longer:
10 Tips to ensure Harvested Potatoes Last Longer
Choose the right potatoes.
Different types of potatoes have different shelf lives. Some potatoes, like russet potatoes, are great for baking and have a longer shelf life, while others, like red potatoes, are better for boiling and have a shorter shelf life. It’s important to choose the right potatoes for your needs. Some of the long lasting varieties are:
Shangi: This popular long-lasting potato variety is well-suited for Kenyan soil and weather conditions. Shangi potatoes have a high yield and are resistant to diseases such as blight, a common problem in Kenya. Shangi potatoes can be stored for up to six months after harvest,
Asante: Asante potatoes are another popular variety in Kenya known for their long shelf life. Asante potatoes have a high yield and are resistant to diseases such as blight and nematodes. They can be stored for up to six months
Roslin Eburu: Roslin Eburu potatoes have a high yield and are resistant to blight and nematodes. They can be stored for up to nine months
2. Store potatoes in a cool, dark place
Moisture can cause potatoes to sprout, spoil, and become a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi, so farmers must keep their harvested potatoes dry. Here are some tips for keeping harvested potatoes dry:
Dry potatoes before storing: After harvesting potatoes, it’s essential to let them dry out before storing them. Spread them out in a single layer on a dry surface, such as a concrete floor or wooden pallet, and leave them to air dry for a few hours. This will help to remove excess moisture from the potatoes.
Store potatoes in a dry place: The storage area for potatoes should be dry and well-ventilated. The humidity level should be between 85-90% to prevent the potatoes from drying out too much, but not too high, as this can encourage rot and disease. A storage room with good airflows, such as a well-ventilated barn or shed, is ideal.
Avoid stacking potatoes too high: When storing potatoes, avoid stacking them too high, as this can cause pressure and damage to the potatoes, leading to bruising, which can result in rotting. Storing potatoes in single layers or using ventilated crates is an excellent way to prevent this problem.
Store potatoes in a cool place: Potatoes should be stored in a cool place, with a temperature range of 10-15°C. This helps to slow down the sprouting rate and also slows down the decay process. If the temperature is too high, the potatoes can start to sprout and rot quickly.
Check potatoes regularly: It’s essential to check potatoes regularly to ensure they remain dry and free from diseases. Check for any signs of rot, such as soft spots, and remove any infected potatoes immediately. Also, check for any signs of moisture, and remove damp potatoes to prevent them from contaminating the others.
Use drying agents: Drying agents, such as silica gel or clay, can be used to absorb excess moisture from the storage area. These agents are available in most hardware stores and can be placed in containers near the potatoes to absorb moisture.
3. Do not wash potatoes before storing.
It is not recommended to wash potatoes before storing them because washing can introduce moisture into them, leading to sprouting, rotting, and the growth of bacteria and fungi. Potatoes have a natural protective coating called the “skin,” which helps to keep moisture and bacteria out of the potato.
When you wash potatoes, you remove the natural protective coating, making the potatoes more vulnerable to moisture and bacteria. This can cause the potatoes to spoil faster and reduce their shelf life. In addition, washing potatoes can make them more challenging to handle and store, as they become slippery when wet.
Instead of washing potatoes before storage, brushing off any dirt or debris using a dry brush or a soft cloth is recommended. This will help remove any excess dirt or debris from the potatoes without introducing moisture. Once the potatoes have been brushed, they can air dry for a few hours before being stored in a dry, calm, and well-ventilated area.
4. Store potatoes well
Potatoes need to breathe. Do not store them in airtight containers or plastic bags. Use a breathable container such as a paper bag or a basket. This will allow air to circulate the potatoes, which will help prevent rotting.
Follow the steps below to store potatoes properly:
- Choose the right storage area: The storage area for potatoes should be relaxed, dry, and well-ventilated. The temperature should be between 10-15°C, and the humidity should be around 85-90%. A storage room with good airflows, such as a well-ventilated barn or shed, is ideal.
- Prepare the potatoes for storage: Before storing, potatoes should be allowed to dry out for a few hours. Remove any dirt or debris by brushing them off gently. Do not wash the potatoes before storage, as this can introduce moisture, leading to rotting and spoilage.’
5. Store potatoes in a dark place
Potatoes should be stored in a dark place, as exposure to light can cause them to sprout. Use storage bins or crates that allow air to circulate, and stack them no more than three or four layers high.
Avoid plastic bags or containers, as they trap moisture and promote rotting.
- Monitor the storage area: Check the storage area regularly to ensure that the temperature and humidity are within the recommended range. Also, check the potatoes for any signs of rot or spoilage, and remove any affected potatoes immediately.
- Use storage aids: There are several storage aids that farmers can use to prolong the shelf life of potatoes. One such aid is silica gel, which can be stored to absorb excess moisture. Another option is to use potato sprout inhibitors, chemicals that can be applied to the potatoes to prevent sprouting.
- Use proper harvesting techniques: When handling potatoes, use care to avoid bruising or damaging them. Bruising can cause the potatoes to rot and spoil more quickly. Use proper lifting techniques and avoid dropping the potatoes, which can cause damage.
6 Remove any sprouts or green spots.
Removing sprouts before storing potatoes is crucial because sprouted potatoes are more likely to spoil and rot. When a potato sprouts, it starts to grow, and as it does, it uses up the nutrients and moisture within the potato. This can cause the potato to become soft and mushy and lead to the growth of bacteria and fungi.
Removing the sprouts also helps prevent new nodes’ growth, as sprouting can be contagious. If one potato in a batch starts to grow, it can also cause the other potatoes to sprout. By removing the sprouts, you can help to prevent the spread of sprouting and extend the shelf life of your potatoes.
In addition, sprouted potatoes can also be harmful to consume. When a potato sprouts, it produces a chemical called solanine, which is toxic in large amounts. While the levels of solanine in sprouted potatoes are usually not high enough to cause harm, it is still recommended to remove the sprouts to reduce the risk of consuming too much solanine.
To gently remove sprouts, use a small knife or peeler to scrape them off the potato. Remove any tiny shoots or eyes, as they can also lead to sprouting and spoilage. Once the sprouts have been removed, the potatoes can be stored using the proper storage techniques to maximize their shelf life and freshness.
7. Separate potatoes from other fruits and vegetables
Potatoes release a gas called ethylene that can cause other fruits and vegetables to spoil faster. Keep your potatoes separate from other produce to prevent spoiling other fruits and vegetables.
8. Do not store potatoes near onions
Potatoes should not be stored near onions because onions release a gas called ethylene, which can cause potatoes to sprout and spoil more quickly. Ethylene is a natural plant hormone that triggers the ripening process in fruits and vegetables but can also cause premature aging and spoilage.
When potatoes are stored near onions, the ethylene gas can cause the potatoes to sprout as if they were exposed to light. Growing potatoes can lead to a loss of quality, texture, and flavor and attract pests such as insects and rodents. Once potatoes sprout, they become less palatable and more challenging to cook.
To avoid this problem, storing potatoes and onions separately in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area is best. This will prevent the buildup of ethylene gas and help extend both vegetables’ shelf life. It is also important to store potatoes away from other fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene gas, such as apples, bananas, and tomatoes.
9. Check potatoes regularly
Inspecting potatoes for damage is essential in ensuring that you only store and consume high-quality, healthy potatoes. Here are some steps you can take to inspect potatoes for damage:
- Look for physical damage: Check the potatoes for any visible signs of wear, such as cuts, bruises, or soft spots. These areas are more likely to spoil or attract pests, so it is best to avoid storing or using potatoes that show signs of physical damage.
- Check for discoloration: Look for any discoloration on the surface of the potatoes. Dark spots or areas of green discoloration may indicate exposure to light, which can cause the potato to develop a bitter taste and become more prone to sprouting.
- Check for softness: Gently squeeze the potatoes to check for any soft or mushy spots. These areas are a sign of spoilage and should be avoided.
- Inspect for pests: Check the potatoes for any signs of pest infestation, such as holes or tunnels. These may be caused by insects or rodents, which can damage the potato and cause it to spoil more quickly.
- Check for sprouts: Look for any sprouts on the potatoes. While tiny sprouts may be removed, larger sprouts can indicate that the potato is starting to spoil and should be avoided.
10. Use potatoes before they go bad
Even if you store your potatoes properly, they will eventually spoil. Use your potatoes before they go bad to avoid wasting them. If you have a lot of potatoes that are close to spoiling, consider making a large batch of mashed potatoes or potato soup to use them up.
In addition to these tips, there are a few other things you can do to help extend the shelf life of your potatoes.
First, try to purchase potatoes that are firm and free of blemishes. Potatoes with soft spots or bruises are more likely to spoil quickly.
Second, consider storing your potatoes in a root cellar or similar environment. A root cellar is a cool, dark environment that is specifically designed for storing root vegetables like potatoes. If you have a root cellar, consider storing your potatoes there to help extend their shelf life.
Another way to help extend the shelf life of your potatoes is to blanch them before freezing. Blanching involves briefly boiling the potatoes and then cooling them in ice water before freezing. Blanching can help preserve the texture and flavor of the potatoes and can help prevent them from becoming mushy when thawed.
In conclusion, potatoes are a versatile and nutritious staple food that can be prepared in many ways. However, proper storage is essential to ensure they last longer and prevent food waste.
Ten tips have been suggested to help ensure that harvested potatoes last longer, including choosing the right potatoes, storing them in a cool and dry place, avoiding washing potatoes before storing, and storing potatoes well.