Potatoes, in all their many colors, shapes, and textures, are one of the most grabbed-for ingredients in our kitchens. From pancakes and casseroles to soups and side dishes, there are few things these tubers can't do. But before you get scrubbing, peeling, and chopping, you've got to sort through the bin at the store to find the best ones.
No matter what kind of potatoes you plan to pick up, there are some universal tips that will help you always pick the best potatoes and store them properly when you get home.
Use sight and touch to pick the best potatoes.
Sight and touch are the two most important senses to use to pick the best potatoes, regardless of variety. Potatoes should feel firm (they shouldn't give at all when gently squeezed) and should be free from soft spots, which are an early sign of spoilage. Avoid spuds that are wrinkled, have a green hue to their skin, or contain sprouts, bruises, cracks, or blemishes. Picking good-quality potatoes is the first step in extending their shelf life. The second is proper storage.
Don't panic at the sight of sprouted potatoes!
If your potatoes do start to sprout, don't worry — you can still totally eat them. You just need to remove and discard any sprouts, which are not edible.
Store potatoes in a dark, cool, dry place.
Storing potatoes properly extends their shelf life and prevents early spoilage. Keep potatoes stored in the coolest part of the kitchen in a dry place, away from sunlight, and with good ventilation. A paper bag or large bowl are ideal since they allow for plenty of air circulation. You'll want to avoid storing potatoes in plastic bags or sealed containers, which can trap moisture, creating a damp environment where potatoes will spoil more quickly. Keep them away from ethylene-producing produce, like bananas and apples, which can cause faster sprouting and spoilage.
Potatoes can last for months at 45°F to 55°F, although it can be tricky to find this sweet spot in our homes, since this is cooler than room temperature yet warmer than the fridge. The best bet is to keep them in the coolest spot in your kitchen, like a cabinet, or even in the basement or garage. Don't store them in the fridge, where the cool temps can turn their starch into sugar.