How to Cure Potatoes After Harvest for Optimal Storage

How to Cure Potatoes After Harvest?

To cure potatoes after harvest, they should be lightly rinsed in cool running water and allowed to air dry for 10 to 14 days.

This process toughens the skin, heals any cuts or bruises, and prepares the potatoes for long-term storage.

After curing, the potatoes should be sorted, and any soft or shriveled ones should be removed.

Healthy potatoes can be stored in small cardboard boxes or bins in a dark, well-ventilated space with temperatures between 45 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit and relative humidity of 90 percent.

It is important to avoid storing potatoes at temperatures that are too low or too high, as this can cause undesirable changes in flavor and texture.

Additionally, potatoes should not be exposed to light, as they can turn green.

Curing potatoes after harvest extends their freshness and can allow them to last for six to eight months in storage.

Key Points:

  • Lightly rinse harvested potatoes with cool running water and let them air dry for 10 to 14 days.
  • This process toughens the skin, heals any cuts or bruises, and prepares potatoes for long-term storage.
  • Sort the cured potatoes and remove any soft or shriveled ones.
  • Store healthy potatoes in small cardboard boxes or bins in a dark, well-ventilated space with temperatures between 45 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity of 90 percent.
  • Avoid storing potatoes at extreme temperatures, as it can affect flavor and texture.
  • Keep potatoes away from light to prevent them from turning green.
  • Curing potatoes after harvest extends their freshness and allows them to last for six to eight months in storage.


Did You Know?

1. Potatoes contain a natural toxin called solanine, which can cause nausea, vomiting, and even paralysis if consumed in large amounts. However, curing the potatoes after harvest helps reduce the levels of solanine and makes them safe for consumption.

2. When curing potatoes, they should be stored in a cool and dark place with temperatures around 45-55°F (7-13°C). This environment encourages the potatoes to produce a protective layer, increasing their storage life and making them less prone to rotting.

3. Curing potatoes generally takes around 10 to 14 days, during which the potatoes release excess moisture. This process helps toughen their skin, making them less susceptible to bruising and preventing them from becoming mushy when cooked.

4. After curing, it is important to brush off any excess dirt or debris from the potatoes. However, it is generally recommended not to wash them as moisture can promote rotting and spoilage.

5. Although curing is an essential step for long-term potato storage, not all potato varieties require it. Some varieties, like new potatoes or those with a thin skin, are best enjoyed immediately after harvest as they have a shorter storage life.

The Natural Dormancy Period For Potatoes

Potatoes, one of the most widely consumed and versatile staple foods globally, have a relatively short natural dormancy period after harvest. Typically, this period lasts for only two to three months. During dormancy, potatoes go through a process of rest that allows them to maintain their quality and flavor.

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However, storing potatoes beyond this period requires special care and attention to ensure they remain fresh and edible.

Storing Potatoes Through Summer

Storing potatoes during the hot summer months can pose a challenge due to their sensitivity to heat and humidity. One traditional method to prevent spoilage is to bury them in broad trenches covered with loose soil. This technique not only keeps the potatoes cool, but also shields them from sunlight, which can cause them to turn green and produce toxic solanine levels. Farmers have been successfully employing this method for centuries to store potatoes during the summer season.

In addition, it is important to follow another crucial step when storing potatoes, especially in summer. Lightly rinsing the potatoes in cool running water before curing can help remove excess dirt and debris, making them more suitable for long-term storage. However, caution must be taken to avoid soaking the potatoes, as excessive moisture can encourage rotting.

Curing Potatoes: Importance And Process

Curing potatoes after harvest is a vital step in preparing them for long-term storage. Curing involves allowing air to dry the potatoes for a period of 7 to 10 days, although different potato varieties may require slightly longer or shorter curing periods. Thin-skinned potatoes tend to cure faster than those with thicker skins, as their skin easily toughens during this process.

During the curing stage, the potatoes’ skin toughens, healing any cuts or bruises they may have acquired during harvest. This helps minimize the chances of rot spreading during storage. Additionally, curing ensures that the potatoes are dry and clean, reducing the mess and potential issues that can arise during storage.

To properly cure potatoes, they should be sorted by type and stored in small cardboard boxes or bins in a cool environment. Placing potatoes on display in a bowl on the countertop is not recommended, as the exposed light can cause them to turn green. According to a potato storage study conducted by the University of Idaho, unheated spaces such as basements and garages with average temperatures of around 55°F (13°C) yielded the best results for potato storage.

Ideal Storage Conditions For Potatoes

To maintain the quality and freshness of potatoes during storage, it is crucial to create ideal storage conditions. According to the Iowa State University Extension (ISU), potatoes should be stored in slatted wooden boxes in a dark, well-ventilated space with temperatures ranging from 45 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The relative humidity in the storage area should be maintained between 85 to 95 percent.

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After the initial curing process, which typically takes around two weeks, it is important to sort the potatoes again. Any soft or shriveled potatoes should be removed from the storage area to prevent their decay from spreading to the healthy ones. Potatoes with minor imperfections, such as small nicks or bruises, can be consumed immediately rather than stored for later use.

Stored potatoes should be placed in boxes, on trays, or on shelves in a dark location with temperatures between 45 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature range helps to avoid chilling the potatoes, which can result in a sweet flavor and blackening of the flesh when cooked. On the other hand, higher temperatures can cause potatoes to sprout prematurely, reducing their overall storage life.

  • Store potatoes in slatted wooden boxes
  • Maintain temperatures between 45 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Maintain relative humidity between 85 to 95 percent
  • Sort and remove soft or shriveled potatoes
  • Consume potatoes with minor imperfections immediately
  • Avoid chilling potatoes to prevent sweet flavor and blackening of flesh
  • Prevent premature sprouting by avoiding higher temperatures.

Potential Issues In Potato Storage

Several potential issues can arise during potato storage if proper care is not taken. Refrigerated potatoes, for example, tend to develop sugars that can cause them to darken when cooked. It is best to avoid storing potatoes in the refrigerator unless necessary.

Commercial potato storage facilities typically maintain temperatures around 45°F (8°C), as this has been found to be optimal for long-term storage. Interestingly, the constant cool temperatures found in caves, such as those in the southern Cappadocia region of Turkey, have also proven to be ideal for storing potatoes.

Fingerling potatoes, despite their unique shape and flavor, do not hold up well in storage due to their thin skin. It is recommended to consume fingerling potatoes relatively soon after harvesting them, rather than attempting to store them for an extended period.

Maintaining Humidity For Optimal Potato Storage

Humidity plays a crucial role in ensuring optimal potato storage conditions. Potatoes can shrivel if stored in a low humidity environment, resulting in decreased quality and texture. The ideal humidity for storing potatoes is around 90 percent. To maintain this level, it is advisable to periodically check the storage area and make necessary adjustments, such as using humidifiers or placing damp towels nearby.

In summary, curing potatoes after harvest is essential for long-term storage. By allowing air to dry the potatoes, curing toughens the skin, heals cuts and bruises, and prepares them for winter storage. Cured potatoes can last six to eight months in storage, provided they are stored under appropriate conditions. Keeping potatoes in slatted wooden boxes in a dark, well-ventilated space with temperatures between 45 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit and relative humidity between 85 to 95 percent is the ideal approach for preserving their freshness. By following these guidelines, you can extend the life of your potato harvest and ensure a bountiful supply for months to come.

Humidity plays a crucial role in potato storage
Potatoes can shrivel in low humidity
Ideal humidity for potato storage is 90%
Check storage area periodically and adjust humidity as needed
Curing potatoes after harvest is essential
Curing toughens the skin and heals cuts and bruises
Cured potatoes can last 6-8 months in storage
Store potatoes in slatted wooden boxes in a dark, well-ventilated space
Maintain temperatures between 45 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit
Maintain relative humidity between 85 to 95 percent
By following these guidelines, extend the life of potato harvest and ensure a bountiful supply.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do you cure potatoes before harvesting?

In order to properly cure potatoes before harvesting, it is important to separate them by type and provide each with a suitable period of curing, typically lasting 7 to 10 days. To begin the process, I gently rinse the potatoes in cool running water, aiming to eliminate any excess soil. However, it is essential to leave the soil within the eyes and crevices intact, as this aids in the curing process.

Can you cook potatoes immediately after harvest?

After harvesting potatoes, it is recommended to first sift through the soil to make sure you don’t miss any good ones. While it is possible to cook and eat some immediately, potatoes intended for long-term storage require a curing process. To do this, lay them in a single layer on newspaper or cardboard, and keep them in a dark and cool spot with a temperature between 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately two weeks. By allowing them to cure, you ensure the potatoes develop a tougher skin and are more suitable for long-term storage.

How do you preserve fresh potatoes?

To preserve fresh potatoes, it is important to keep them in a cool and dry environment. One effective method is to place the potatoes in a well-ventilated container, such as a cardboard box, mesh bag, or basket. This allows for proper airflow, preventing moisture buildup and potential rot. Additionally, storing the potatoes in a cool and dark place, like a pantry or unheated basement, with a temperature range of 45 to 50 F, helps to maintain their freshness and prevent sprouting.

Do I wash potatoes before curing?

According to the Oregon State University Extension Service, washing potatoes before curing is only necessary if they were grown in fine, sticky clay soil. In such cases, it is important to ensure the potatoes are thoroughly dry before storing them. However, if the potatoes were grown in coarse, sandy soil, simply brushing off the soil is sufficient.

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