If you’re reading this post, chances are that you’ve found yourself with more potatoes than you can consume by the end of the season. Or perhaps you want to have hearty meal available no matter what is going on in the outside world.
Learning how to store potatoes long term is both a helpful and potentially important practice. Plus, it also means that you can get the taste of delicious, home-grown potatoes way past potato season.
Keep reading to learn all about how to store potatoes long term.
Harvesting Potatoes for Long-Term Storage
Before we dive right into the storage content, let’s take a quick stop at the harvesting stage. Whether you’re learning how to store potatoes long term to prepare for the worst or keep your extra potatoes from going to waste, none of it will matter if you don’t harvest your potatoes in the right way.
This section assumes that you are growing the potatoes yourself. If that’s not the case for you, then feel free to skip ahead to the next section. If that is you, then make sure to follow the tips listed below:
- Let the potatoes fully mature before harvesting them. If you harvest them too soon, the immature potatoes are more likely to be damaged, and they simply last less time in storage.
- Potatoes have usually grown to full maturity when the leaves turn yellow. At that point, stop watering, wait a couple of days, and when you finally dig up the first potatoes, rub their skin gently with a finger. This tests to see if the skin has grown tough enough to protect the tuber.
- If you can, harvest your potatoes on a warm dry day, being careful not to damage the potatoes as you dig them out. Place them temporarily into buckets or baskets, and keep them out of sunlight. Sunlight would turn your potatoes green!
- If you do accidentally damage any potatoes, or dig up any potatoes that were damaged for other reasons, keep these separate from the potatoes you plan on storing long-term. A badly damaged potato can actually cause the surrounding potatoes to rot faster as a result.
- Brush any remaining dirt of your potatoes, but don’t wash them with water, which could cause the retention of unwanted moisture.
How to Store Potatoes Long Term
Now that you’ve got your harvest of long-term storage potatoes ready, it’s time to choose a storage method. That’s right! You can learn how to store potatoes long term in five different ways.
1. In a Dark, Cool, and Moist Place After Curing
The beauty of this first option you can consider when learning how to store potatoes long term is that it’s a historic tradition. Before grocery stores and refrigerators, most houses had a cool and moist root cellar used to store food over the winter.
Now it’s difficult to find a home with a root cellar. In fact, you might not even know what a root cellar is! A root cellar is an underground room, usually beneath a home, that maintains consistently cool temperatures (not freezing!), high humidity, and darkness. They were used to store food for long periods of time.
But like the title of this section says, any dark, cool, and moist place can work if you’re learning how to store potatoes long term. Perhaps an unheated garage, a part of an unfinished basement, or an unused room whose heating vents can be blocked off. If any of those spaces are especially dry, think about getting a humidifier for them.
There are three things that are key to storing potatoes for the year: Curing them, storing them at the right temperature, and keeping moisture under control.
So you found the perfect room. Unfortunately, however, you’re not quite done yet. The next step in learning how to store potatoes long term in this method is curing the potatoes.
What is curing? Curing potatoes is the process of letting their skins toughen and thicken to better protect the tuber.
The curing process might even heal minor scabs or cuts, but as I mentioned earlier, any potatoes with significant bruising or damages should be removed from the potatoes destined for long-term storage.
So how do you cure potatoes? Unfortunately it’s a bit of a long process, but it’s well worth the wait. To cure potatoes, lay them out on newspapers or paper towels in a (you guessed it!) cool and dark room. For now, however, the room should be well-ventilated (as opposed to your long-term storage room of choice).
You should leave your potatoes to cure between a week and ten days. By the end of the curation period, your potatoes will have grown thicker, more protective skin! At this point, you can store your potatoes in any container that doesn’t retain moisture. Think of porous material like carboard, brown paper bags, or anything with holes.
Unlike apples, who should be individually wrapped when put into long-term storage, potatoes can touch each other after they are cured. Some, however, still separate them with material for stuffing.
Put your container of choice in your root cellar-like room, and voila! You have learned a method for how to store potatoes long term. Make sure the potatoes are shielded from light, and I suggest you check on them every couple of weeks to confirm that none of them have sprouted or begun rotting prematurely. If you find any in that state, remove them as soon as possible.
Storing potatoes in a dark, cool, and moist place after curing is the way to go if you want to learn how to store potatoes long term—like up to a year.
If, however, your long-term storage goals are closer to an extra season, then this second method for how to store potatoes long term might just be the one for you.
Namely: rebury your potatoes.
You must be thinking: what? I just dug them out!
The truth, however, is that reburying potatoes in the earth is a simple and effective method to store them for a couple of extra months. If you had left them in the ground to begin with, they would have rotten. That’s because they would have remained attached to the potato plant.
To do so, bury the potatoes about six inches down. I also suggest covering them with layers of newspaper to protect from any unexpected rain which might also cause them to rot prematurely.
And when fall rolls around, you can dig them up a second time, and enjoy! And, if you change your mind and decide that you actually do want to store the potatoes for longer than a couple of extra months, you can always stick them into your root cellar-like room.
3. Pressure Can
As far as learning how to store potatoes long term fresh, method number one and two above are your two best options. If you don’t mind cooking your food ahead of time, however, there are still more options, like pressure canning them!
In fact, pressure canning potatoes is a great way to learn how to store potatoes long term because you don’t need any special room or refrigeration. What you will need, however, is a pressure canner and sterilized quart mason jars, so make sure to plan ahead!
Next, follow these steps:
- Peel and chop your potatoes into half-inch cubes.
- Put the pieces into a bowl of cold water.
- Boil water in a separate pot.
- Put the potato cubes in the boiling water for long enough that the outside layer to becomes soft while the inside stays hard. This usually takes less than five minutes.
- Drain the potatoes and run them under cold water.
- Divide the potatoes into the mason jars and then add hot water into each jar. The surface of the water should be an inch beneath the rim.
- Pressure can the mason jars at 10 pounds for forty minutes, making sure the 10 pounds remain consistent.
Freezing potatoes is probably the long-term storage method that requires the least amount of hassle. In fact, learning how to store potatoes long term in the freezer has a very similar preparation process to that of canning potatoes. But you don’t need a pressure canner at the end!
If that sounds good to you, follow these simple steps:
- Blanch your potatoes (steps 1 through 5 listed in the section above).
- Pat them dry with paper towels.
- Put them in a freezer-appropriate Ziploc bag,
- Stick them in the freezer.
That’s really it!
Last but not least, another option for learning how to store potatoes long term is to dehydrate them into potato flakes. To do this you need a dehydrator, so like the pressure canning section, remember to plan ahead!
To start the dehydration process, wash your potatoes. Next, you can choose to peel them, though some people prefer to keep the peel.
Next, slice them into very thin, even slices, and arrange them on the dehydrating trays so that none of them are touching. Turn the dehydrator on, and voila! You’re well on your way to dehydrated potatoes, which can last up to twenty years!
Now You Know How to Store Potatoes Long Term
Whether you’re doing it to keep your panic room stocked, or because you simply have too many potatoes left over from the harvest, learning how to store potatoes long term is a rewarding and helpful process!
I hope this process has inspired you to start brainstorming a root cellar-like space, or perhaps think about investing in a pressure canner, or dehydrator. And remember that even if you don’t have any of those things, you can always freeze your potatoes!
Want more survival food content? Then keep reading my food posts for recipes, guides, and more!