Storing Potatoes

It’s almost Thanksgiving and the one day a year that the nutritionist I met with a few years back said I could eat potatoes. She didn’t stop there. After they were peeled, they were to be soaked in cold water for at least 3 hours before cooking. Now tell me, who on this little blue orb that we live on, only consumes potatoes once a year, much less soaking them for 3 hours before cooking. I would venture to guess that there are not very many individuals in this category. If this were to happen, those potatoes had better be better than sex.

There were four of us kids growing up in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s besides Mom and Dad in our family. Every spring we would watch Dad cut seed potatoes. He would make sure that there were at least 2 good eyes in each piece so that we were assured of a good potato crop. After tending to the spuds all season long, including picking potato bugs and putting them into a Campbell’s Soup can with a little gasoline in it, fall couldn’t come fast enough. But, before we could dig the new crop, we had to clean out the potato bins in the cave.

We didn’t have a store-bought potato digger that was pulled behind our tractor. Dad had the knack of using our one bottom plow to turn over the rows of potato vines exposing the tubers. We would all pick the new potatoes and toss them into the manure spreader as we didn’t have a small trailer to use. We would have upwards of a thousand pounds of spuds that we had to carry through the house and down into the cave for winter and spring use. Dad must have thought that there was going to be another great potato famine and didn’t want to be caught short of  potatoes.

Dad’s idea of potato storage was to dump them into bins along two walls of our storm cave. Mom’s canned vegetables were stored on shelves above the potato bins and if some of the seals on the jars didn’t hold, the juices from said jars seeped downward, due to gravity, and ‘seasoned’ the potatoes much like the irrigation system some grocery stores have above their fresh vegetables. We, my brother and myself, had to climb into these two bins a couple of weeks before we dug the new potatoes and haul out 80 percent of the potatoes we had hauled down the previous fall. Luckily, the famine never hit our farm.

Enough reminiscing, on to some thoughts on proper storage.

  • Proper harvesting techniques must be followed. After the vines die, leave the potatoes under ground for a couple of weeks to toughen them up for storage. (If it’s going to rain, dig them right away). Dig several inches away from the base of the plant and if you do stab a potato with the fork/spade, put it off to the side to eat first.
  • With store bought potatoes, follow the same procedures listed below for home grown ones.
  • Store the potatoes in a cool, dark place away from fruits, like apples as apples give off a gas that causes rot
  • Do not store potatoes in the refrigerator as the starch will turn to sugar which changes the taste and consistency of the potatoes.
  • Do not expose the potatoes to light. Light causes a toxin to form in the potatoes. The toxin is not in the green color in the potatoes but simply forms at the same time the toxin does and is an indicator that the toxin is present.
  • Place a layer of newpaper or an old sheet in a paper box or old plastic clothes basket in a dark room. Place a single layer of potatoes on this. Cover this layer of potatoes with another layer of paper or sheet. Add another single layer of potatoes. Continue alternating layers until the container is full or you run out of spuds.
  • Put a cover of some sort over the filled containers and store in a cool, dark room in the garage or basement. Sift through these containers ocassionally and remove any rotting potatoes if found.

Keep your fork



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