Frequently Asked Potato Questions on Storage

Q. Potatoes don’t seem to keep very well in my house. What can I do?

A. Potatoes deteriorate quickly at room temperature – they keep better when stored in a cool, dark place where the air can circulate. The best storage temperatures are those found in cold storage rooms, between 7-10°C (45-50°F). In an apartment or a house without a cellar, store potatoes near an outside wall where the temperature is often cooler. Another solution is to buy smaller quantities more frequently.

Q. Should potatoes be stored in the refrigerator?

A. Refrigerating potatoes is not recommended because this causes potato starches to change to sugar. This increased accumulation of sugar will cause the potato to darken when cooked.

Q. How long can potatoes be stored under proper conditions?

A. At 7-10°C (45-50°F) potatoes will keep well for several weeks. At temperatures much over this, potatoes will not maintain freshness for more than one week. Warmer temperatures encourage sprouting and shriveling.

Q. Does the flavour of potatoes change during storage?

A. Correct storage conditions ensure that the flavour, nutritional quality, appearance and the fitness of the food are maintained.

Q. Why are potatoes sold in paper and plastic bags?

A. It is advisable to buy potatoes packaged in a paper bag. The paper bag prevents light (which causes “greening”) from reaching the potatoes and the window in the paper bag allows the potatoes to breathe. Consumers want to see the potatoes they are buying, therefore, potatoes can also be purchased in clear plastic bags. The plastic bags should be perforated to allow for air circulation. Once home, transfer the potatoes to a heavy paper bag for longer storage.

Q. What causes a potato to turn green?

A. Greening is a normal colour change in the potato which takes place when it is exposed to light. Natural chlorophylls from the potato’s cell structure are drawn to the surface forming solanine. Solanine imparts a greenish colour and unpleasant bitter flavor to the potato.

Both retailers and consumers can prevent solanine from occurring. In the grocery store, the plastic bags should be displayed label-side up. The printed side of the plastic bag, acts as a light shield. A paper bag should be stored with the window face down. At home, keep potatoes in a cool, dark place.