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How to Store Potatoes (Because You’ve Probably Been Doing It Wrong)

Potatoes are the budget-friendly kitchen workhorse that never fails to satisfy. Whether you serve ‘em up in a breakfast hash, roast them for an herb-studded side to a crispy-skinned whole chicken, or enjoy them as a deep-fried and salty accompaniment to a burger, these tubers are downright delicious. That’s why we never hesitate to reach for the five or even 10-pound bag of spuds at the grocery store. The only problem is that, unless we have plans to make mashed potatoes for a small army, it’s hard to use them all up before they begin to sprout, go soft, or even turn sickly green and rancid. Fortunately, the solution is fairly straightforward: Here’s the lowdown on how to store potatoes properly so you never have to waste your prized purchase again. (Hint: Stop tossing them in the crisper drawer.)

1. Store the cream of the crop. Pick through your potatoes as soon as you bring them home and discard any that are showing signs of deteriorating. Potatoes that have begun to sprout or no longer feel firm should be thrown out, or else they might spread the disease to healthy spuds.

2. Then leave them be. To maximize their shelf-life, do not scrub, peel, or wash potatoes prior to storage. The introduction of moisture will make your spuds go soft no matter where you store them and since their skin serves a protective purpose, keep it on and don’t attempt to remove dirt with a dry brush, either. Instead, save the prep work for when you’re ready to cook up your taters.

3. Ditch the plastic bag. Yep, we’ve basically been doing everything wrong, (Sorry, spuds.) Potatoes fare best when stored in a well-ventilated area and even though those plastic bags often have a few holes punched in them, they still don’t do a very good job of letting the vegetables breathe. When you get home from the store, transfer your unwashed potatoes into a wire basket, mesh bag or paper bag. Note: If you use a paper bag, leave the top open to promote air-flow.

4. Skip the fridge. Who knew? The truth is that we’ve been tossing our potatoes, plastic bag and all, straight into the fridge since, well, always...and it’s been a bad idea for just as long. Potatoes don’t actually fare so well in the fridge, because although these starchy vegetables prefer cool and dark climates, our trusty cold-storage box is a bit too frosty for their liking. The ideal place to store potatoes is somewhere in the milder 45 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit range. A root cellar is perfect, but an unheated basement or a dark cupboard that’s low to the ground and away from heat (i.e., not next to the stove) are both better options for storing your taters.

5. Steer clear of direct sunlight. When picking the ideal place to store your potatoes, you have to think like one. These guys came out of the ground, and they liked it there, so it’s no surprise that potatoes are more likely to sprout and turn green when exposed to direct sunlight. The preferred temperature range for potatoes is hard to achieve, but your spuds can still fare just fine for several months at room temperature, as long as they have a nice shady spot to put down roots (so to speak). Think: a cupboard, closet or basement—just keep in mind that heat isn’t great either, so avoid that cabinet above the dryer.

6. Keep potatoes away from other vegetables. This tends to be a bigger problem if you’re still making the fridge mistake (see above). That said, ripening and spoiling can occur from close proximity to any ethylene-producing fruits or vegetables so it’s best to avoid the countertop fruit bowl (bananas, apples and avocados are major culprits when it comes to emitting the ethylene gasses that affect the freshness of other nearby produce). Bottom line: Play it safe and store potatoes in a solitary spot.

We’ve now covered all the salient points of potato storage. The takeaway? Tubers want to be alone somewhere that’s cool (but not your fridge), dark and well-ventilated—so treat your future starchy side right and it will be fresh and ready to provide up to six months of dining pleasure. And if you're wondering what to do with all those tasty tubers, here are 24 irresistible potato recipes to make all year long.