Myth busted! You can refrigerate your potatoes!

should I refrigerate potatoes

Should I refrigerate potatoes?

We researched extensively and referenced recent studies from University of Idaho Extension and Potato Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and other resources (links to research at end of article.)

The best way to store potatoes is high humidity, at between 42F-55F. A dark closet, cool garage, kitchen pantry.

  • DO keep potatoes in plastic bag perforated with lots of little holes (the bag potatoes come in). Bag keeps humidity. Holes allow air circulation.
  • DO keep potatoes in DARK place. Drape bag with kitchen towel to block light
  • DO NOT store potatoes where it could get warm, like under the sink, next to a big appliance.
  • DO NOT wash potatoes until you are ready to cook them.

What if my home is too warm?

should I refrigerate potatoes - new potatoesIf your home is too warm, you can store potatoes in the refrigerator to prevent sprouting and certain potato disease causing organisms (that thrive in too-warm conditions). Refrigerating potatoes will cause some of the starch to turn into sugar, resulting in a sweeter potato. However, refrigerating potatoes causes them to darken if fried in oil (french fries, potato chips).

  • You CAN refrigerate potatoes if your home is too warm, like in the summer months.
  • DO NOT refrigerate potatoes if you are planning to fry in oil. If you are boiling, steaming, baking, roasting potatoes, refrigeration is perfectly fine.
  • DO keep potatoes in plastic bag perforated with lots of little holes (the bag potatoes come in). Bag keeps humidity. Holes allow air circulation.

Can I store potatoes and onions together?

should I refrigerate potatoes - new potatoes

There is a ton of research on the effect of ethylene on potatoes. Unfortunately some of the research is conflicting! The most comprehensive and controlled research found that short exposure of ethylene caused increased sprouting. It is best to keep onions and potatoes separate. In fact, keep all fruit away from potatoes.

DO NOT store potatoes and onions together.

DO NOT store potatoes and fruit together.

How to store sweet potatoes

should I refrigerate potatoes - Sweet potatoesSweet potatoes like slightly warmer temperatures, between 55F-60F, at 80% humidity. Keep them unwashed, throw them in a large brown paper bag or a cardboard box, and store in a cool, dark place. Properly cured and stored sweet potatoes can last up to 6 months!

DO NOT refrigerate sweet potatoes – the cold will turn the sweet potato hard in the center.

Is green on potato safe to eat?

should I refrigerate potatoes - GREEN potatoesPotatoes turn green, accumulating chlorophyll, when exposed to too much light or sunlight. The chemical compound that forms during the greening is called solanine. It tastes bitter, and in large quantities, it can make you really sick. Solanine is toxic – it’s the plant’s natural mechanism for pest control. When growing potatoes are exposed to sunlight, solanine will prevent animals or insects from eating the uncovered tuber.

DO If you see a little bit of green on a potato, you can just slice the green part off.

DO NOT If the green covers most of the potato, it’s best to just discard.

(photo source)

Are sprouted potatoes safe to eat?

DO If the potato is still firm, but has a couple of sprouts peeking through, just cut off the sprouted parts and cook (but they might not taste good)

DO NOT If the potato is soft and wrinkly with sprouts, throw it away.

What is the black crusty dirt on the potato?

should I refrigerate potatoes - black on potatoesIt’s actually not dirt. The black stuff that seems so hard to scrub out of the little eyes and on the surface is actually safe fungus.

DO The potato industry calls it “Black Scurf.”  It’s perfectly safe to eat. It’s just not pretty. Just try to scrub  or cut off as much of it as you can.

(photo source)

What is the hole in the middle of the potato?

should I refrigerate potatoes - hole inside potatoesIf you’ve ever cut open a potato and found a small hole in the middle, sometimes black or brown, you probably thought the potato rotted, or perhaps a bug ate its way through.

But actually, the hole and discoloration, called “hollow heart,” is caused by environmental stresses, like sudden change in weather, too much rain or nutritional deficiency.

DO It’s safe to eat. Just cut the hole or discoloration away.

(photo source)

References:

Oxford Journals Research
University of Idaho Extension: Options for Storing Potatoes at Home

Plant Physiology: Effects of Ethylene on Potatoes
University of Idaho: About potatoes
Vegetable MD Online: Black Scurf
University of Florida Extension: Hollow Heart
North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission

Favorite potato tools

My favorite peeler is the Oxo brand. The set of 3 featured below is actually a really good price. Usually just one of the peelers will sell for about $8.99. I also like the lightweight Kuhn Rikon, however, you MUST handwash the peeler and dry immediately. They tend to rust.

To make mashed potatoes, there are two different tools that I use. The more traditional mashing tool is the fast ‘n easy mashed potatoes that is a little chunky. Sometimes I like to leave the skin on the potatoes. The Oxo brand has a nice grip, which makes it so much easier to use. I’m not a fan of these types of mashers – too hard to use and clean!

If I’m in the mood for smooth, creamy mashed potato, then I’ll use a ricer. (Here’s my recipe for the Very Best Mashed Potato – a technique that I learned from a chef and only uses 2 ingredients!) The first potato ricer that I bought is horrible – I would not recommend this one – hard to clean, hard to use, awkward angle. Recently, I bought a Cooks Illustrated recommended model, the RSVP Ricer. Love it. Easy on the hands and super easy to clean with interchangeable and removeable plates (course and fine).

My favorite potato recipes

Roasting new potatoes

New potatoes are best simply roasted. Preheat your oven to 450F. Cut any new potatoes that are 2″ in diameter in half, so that the potatoes are similar in size. On a baking sheet, toss the potatoes with a bit of olive oil. Roast for 30-40 minutes (depends on size of your potatoes.) Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

If you like garlicky new potatoes, in a large bowl, add a couple cloves of minced garlic (using a garlic press will give you the best results, as it will smush the garlic better), olive oil, minced fresh rosemary or thyme (don’t use dried herbs, just doesn’t taste the same in this dish). Toss the potatoes in this mixture with your hands until all potatoes are coated. Then roast following above. Season with salt after potatoes are done.

Potatoes Domino Recipe

Potato Dominoes Recipe

Very Best Mashed Potatoes — just 2 ingredients!

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Warm Asian Roasted Potato Salad

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Miso Mashed Potatoes

Broccoli Potato Bacon Hash

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More potato recipes

Herbed New Potatoes – Food & Wine

Garlic and Cumin New Potatoes – Betty Crocker

Butter Steamed New Potatoes – Deep Dish South

Crash Hot Potatoes – The Pioneer Woman