How to Store Potatoes for the Winter

How to Store Potatoes for the Winter

(from Randy Shore, the Green Man, Vancouver Sun, Aug. 30) 

Potatoes are a terrific way to store food energy, which goes a long way toward explaining their popularity as a home and commercial crop for the past few centuries. Properly cured potatoes can last many months with no discernible decline in quality, nutrition or flavour. Improperly cured potatoes will turn into a gloppy mess of moulds and smelly rot.

You can safely stop watering your potatoes a few weeks before harvest. Wait until the vines have completely withered away and then wait for three sunny days. On the third day dig your potatoes.

Treat potatoes gently to avoid nicks and abrasions. Do not wash them or brush the soil away. If you injure the skin before it toughens you will lose your crop. Most of the dirt will just fall off naturally.

Find a very shady part of the yard for your curing station. Erect a table – a sheet of plywood and a couple of sawhorses works really well – and spread your potatoes out so they are not touching each other. Cover loosely with a tarp to keep out the sunlight. Potatoes that are exposed to sunlight may turn green, rendering them inedible.

After three to seven days of dry weather you can place your potatoes in burlap sacks or well-ventilated cardboard boxes. Store in a very dark, dry, cool place, but protect them from temperatures below 5C.

Check your potatoes for signs of rot and remove the dodgy ones immediately. Potatoes that are in contact with rotting spuds should be washed and eaten as soon as possible.

Dry your potatoes for several days before storing.