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curing potatoes for storage

How to Cure Garden Potatoes

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Growing potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) in your home garden brings the goodness of fresh potatoes to your table and allows you to choose whether to eat some of them as new potatoes or allow them all to mature in the garden. These vegetables thrive in fertile soil with a pH from 4.8 to 5.5. When planted in a sunny location and provided adequate moisture and fertilizer, potato plants produce an abundance of potatoes, or tubers, under the soil, and those tubers are ready to be dug up in fall. By properly curing potatoes, tubers can be stored all winter for home use.

Harvesting Potatoes

Dig the potatoes out of the soil in fall after the potato plant tops died back naturally. A garden fork or hoe works well for harvesting potatoes, but use caution not to nick or cut the tubers during harvest. Small blemishes will heal on potatoes, but large cuts open the way for disease during months of storage. If you accidentally cut tubers during the harvest, set them aside for immediate use, recommends the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Cleaning Your Tubers

Brush the soil from potatoes grown in light, sandy soil, or use cold water to wash soil from potatoes grown in heavy, organic soil. Some people prefer to allow the potatoes to air dry for a few hours and then brush the soil from them, as washing can damage the tender skin of freshly dug potatoes.

Curing Potatoes

Place clean potatoes in boxes. Be sure that your tubers are completely dry before curing potatoes. Store them in an area with a temperature from 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of about 95 percent for 10 to 14 days to cure, recommends the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

During the curing process, minor cuts and blemishes heal and the skin of potatoes becomes tough. Like curing onions, curing potatoes is a necessary step in the process for long-term storage of the crop.

Sorting Potatoes for Storing

Sort through the cured potatoes, and remove all that are soft, blemished or discolored. Those potatoes probably will rot and quickly infect the other potatoes. Do not attempt to store damaged potatoes, as they will rot quickly, create a smelly mess and cause the potatoes they are in contact with to spoil.

Where to Store Potatoes

Store the potatoes in a cool, dark place with a temperature from 40 and 45 F and a relative humidity of 90 percent. An old refrigerator, a basement, garage or attic are potential locations for storing cured potatoes. Potatoes “chill” at temperatures below 40 F and develop a sweet flavor. Potatoes stored above 45 F may sprout after several months.

Checking Potatoes in Storage

Periodically, check over your boxes of cured potatoes in storage. Remove any soft, shriveled or damaged potatoes and use them quickly.

How to Cure Garden Potatoes. Growing potatoes in your home garden brings the goodness of fresh potatoes to your table and allows you to choose whether to eat some of them as new potatoes or allow them all to mature in the garden. These vegetables thrive in fertile soil with a pH from 4.8 to 5.5. When planted in a …

Potatoes: Harvesting and Storing (potatocare)

In modern homes, a cool garage or basement
may be the best spot to store potatoes

Potatoes grown for winter use should be harvested after the vines have died and the crop is mature. To check maturity, dig up one or two hills of potatoes. If the skins on the tubers are thin and rub off easily, the crop is not fully mature and will not store well. Wait a few more days before harvesting. The skins on mature potatoes remain firmly attached to the tubers. When harvesting potatoes, avoid bruising, skinning, or cutting the tubers. Damaged potatoes should be used as soon as possible.

Before placing the potatoes in storage, the tubers should be cured. Cure potatoes at a temperature of 45 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit and high relative humidity (85 to 95 percent) for two weeks. Healing of minor cuts and bruises and thickening of the skin occurs during the curing process.

Once cured, sort through the potatoes and discard any soft, shriveled, or blemished tubers. These potatoes may spoil in storage and destroy much of the crop. Potatoes should be stored at a temperature of 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit and relative humidity of 90 percent. Store in a dark location as potatoes turn green when exposed to light. If storage temperatures are above 45 degrees Fahrenheit, the potatoes will start to sprout after two or three months. When stored below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, potatoes develop a sugary, sweet taste. Sugary potatoes may be restored to their natural flavor by placing them at room temperature for a few days. Do not allow potatoes to freeze.

Most modern homes have few good storage places for vegetables. A cool garage or basement may be the best site. Another possibility would be a second refrigerator.

(This resource was last updated August 2002 and appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper Sunday edition. For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement)

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Lancaster County is your on-line yard and garden educational resource. The information on this Web site is valid for residents of southeastern Nebraska. It may or may not apply in your area. If you live outside southeastern Nebraska, visit your local Extension office

Potatoes: Harvesting and Storing by Don Janssen, Extension Educator In modern homes, a cool garage or basement may be the best spot to store potatoes