Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How Long Will Potates Store?

There have been some great deals on potatoes lately. This week (ending Oct. 16) HyVee had potatoes on sale for $1.48. HyVees deal of the day yesterday was the same potatoes for 99 cents. We're talking 10 cent a pound potatoes. That is some cheap eating.
The question is how to store potatoes? Most people probably don't realize potatoes last extremely well when stored properly. There are two important factors when storing potatoes: light and temperature.
First, potatoes must be stored in the dark.  Have you ever peeled a green potato?  Potatoes are alive and when exposed to light turn green due to chlorophyll. Green potatoes are bitter and should be thrown away. The glycoalkaloids (family of poisons found in plants) in green potatoes can actually make you sick. You can't just peel off the green part and use the rest of the potato because the unseen glycoalkaloids will be through out the potato.
Potatoes are part of the nightshade family of plants (also tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, tobacco, belladonna and about 2,800 other species). Alkaloids in these plants can impact nerve-muscle  and digestive function. Cooking lowers the alkoids by about 50%.  Unless you are very sensitive, you will likely not be bothered by the alkaloids which help protect the plants from insects and disease. Most normal people would have to eat about 4.5 pounds of potatoes in one sitting before they began experienceing neurological symptoms.
(This does remind me of a story my Grandma told me about my Grandpa. People used to believe you would die if you ate raw tomatoes. My Grandpa and a friend ate some raw tomatoes when very young boys  and then watched each other to see you who would die first. Both survived, of course.)
So, store your potatoes in a dark place. Second, store between 40-55 degrees. Third, potatoes are 80% water and prefer a humid environment or they will shrivel. Four, potatoes need some air circulation. A dark corner of your garage or basement will usually work just fine. Potatoes will store for several months if you meet these conditions so feel free to stock up on them.
Like a lot of people, I keep some potatoes under my sink (the rest I keep in my garage on a shelf). I am highly envious of people with fancy cabinets with pull out drawers. But part of simplifying my life means learning to be content with what I have.

Here is my cheap improvisation of pull out drawers under my sink. For less than $25, I was able to buy these plastic pull out bins at Wal-Mart. They work just great. 

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