For such a seemingly hardy vegetable, potatoes require pretty specific storing conditions to retain their best flavor and nutrition. There are some general rules of thumb, such as the ideal temperature for storage. However, some other storage details depend on how long you intend to store them and how you will eventually cook the potatoes.
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The best temperature for potatoes is between 42 and 50 degrees, which presents a problem, since most home temperatures are kept at 65 degrees or higher. If you store a potato at too warm a temperature, it encourages sprouting. Yet refrigerator storage is not ideal either. If a potato is stored at too cold a temperature, the potato's starch begins to convert to sugar, which can cause a sweet taste and some discoloration when the potato is cooked.
Too much light will cause a potato to become green. This is because potatoes contain chlorophyll. The green color won’t affect the taste of the potato, however, and portions of green can be removed before the potato is cooked to make it look more appealing. However, there is a chance that once potatoes start turning green they will begin to form a compound called glycoalkaloids. Too much of this compound can cause the potato to taste bitter, and is also toxic in high doses.
Potatoes are best kept in a perforated plastic bag. It’s important not to seal the bag tightly, since potatoes require oxygen. Because they thrive in temperatures that are neither too hot nor too cold, a cupboard or closet in a garage or other unheated room is perfect. If you have an extra refrigerator that is set a few degrees higher than your regular refrigerator, that will work too. Don’t store potatoes in sealed plastic containers.
Other Factors to Consider
One way to avoid serious storage issues with potatoes is to only buy potatoes on an as-needed basis. Also consider how you intend to cook your potatoes. If you’re frying potatoes, for example, you definitely don’t want to store them in the refrigerator, since this will cause the starch to break down, making the potatoes an unappealing brown color when cooked. Finally, don’t wash the potatoes before storing, since that may cause them to spoil sooner.