How To Preserve Potatoes For Winter

Preserving potatoes for winter is a great way to have fresh potatoes all year long. There are many methods of preserving potatoes, but the three most popular are freezing, root cellar, and canning.

My favorite is storing them in a root cellar, but that’s not possible for many people.

We just harvested our potatoes yesterday. It’s September 14 as I’m writing this.

We had planted nearly 300 potato plants in the spring.

We stored ours in five-gallon buckets and got 22 buckets in total! We use a lot of potatoes over the year, and this bountiful harvest will keep us in mashed potatoes, homemade french fries, and twice-baked potatoes.

How To Harvest Potatoes

The best time to harvest potatoes for winter storage is in the fall, after the plants have died back and the leaves have turned brown.

It is important to wait until the potatoes are fully mature before harvesting them, as they will not store well if they are not yet mature. 

Once the plants have died back, carefully pull out the plants.

It’s not recommended that the green part of the potato plant be incorporated back into the soil, due to disease concerns.

Gently dig up the potatoes with a spade or shovel. Be careful not to damage the potatoes, as this will shorten their storage life.

Once the potatoes have been removed from the ground, it’s important to get the dirt and any debris off of them.

Rinse the potatoes in cool water to remove any remaining dirt, or scrub them with your hands.

If you choose to wash them, allow the potatoes to air dry for a few minutes before storing them.

Wait Until Foliage Turns Yellow Before Harvesting Potatoes

It’s best to wait until the foliage of your potato plants turns yellow before you harvest them.

This indicates that the potatoes are mature and will have the best flavor. If you can’t wait that long, though, it’s still okay to harvest them earlier.

Baby potatoes are also delicious.

So, if you’re getting impatient, go ahead and harvest your potatoes a little early. Just be sure to enjoy them soon after!

Dig Up The Potatoes

Once the foliage of your potato plants has turned yellow, it’s time to harvest the potatoes.

To do this, simply dig up the plants with a shovel or spade. Be careful not to damage the potatoes as you dig them up.

If they’re small, you can just lift the whole plant out of the ground. If they’re larger, you may need to loosen the soil around them first.

Sort and Cure

After you’ve dug up the potato plants, it’s time to sort and cure the potatoes.

To do this, spread them out on a table or other surface in a single layer. Separate any that are damaged, and use them first.

Healthy potatoes will have uniform skin, without noticeable blemishes.

How To Sort And Cure Fresh Potatoes

I’m sure you have had your potatoes go bad on you before.

They sprout, they get mushy, or they just don’t taste as good as they used to when stored at warmer temperatures.

Here is a guide on how to sort and cure fresh potatoes so that they last longer.

Remove any Damaged or Diseased Potatoes

The first step is to remove any damaged or diseased potatoes. These potatoes will not last as long and can infect the other potatoes. Any raw potatoes that have a cut, crack, or are otherwise damaged, will go bad quickly.

Always separate these into a different pile and use them first. Sometimes a potato will have cracked but repaired itself.

As long as there is potato skin over the crack, the potato will store well. Remove any green potatoes as well.

Remove any Excess Dirt With Gloved Hands

The next step is to remove any excess dirt with gloved hands. Gently rub the potato under running cold water to remove any dirt that is stuck on it.

I prefer rubbing off excess dirt with hands because washing potatoes can cause rotting if not dried completely before storing.

How Long Will Cured Potatoes Last?

Cured potatoes will last 2-3 weeks stored in a cool, dark place.

If you store them in a warmer place, they will not last as long. After 2-3 weeks, the potatoes will start to sprout and will not be as fresh.

Potatoes that are kept in a high humidity place, at an ideal temperature of 5 degrees Celcius (41°F) will last for 6-8 months.

That’s what makes a root cellar so great, but a dark, cool place in a basement will work too.

3 Ways To Preserve Potatoes So They Last For Months

If you want your potatoes to last for months, there are three different ways to preserve them for a long shelf life.

The first way is to store the potatoes in a cool, dark place with high humidity. An ideal location would be an unheated basement, root cellar, or unheated garage.

You can also put them in a plastic bag with holes punched in it so that they don’t rot. Enjoy your potato harvest for months to come.

The second way is by canning potatoes.

Canned potatoes are a good choice for long term storage, at room temperature. I would choose this over freezing, although that has its place as well.

The third way to preserve potatoes is by freezing them. Peel and wash the potatoes before cutting them into small pieces. Spread the pieces out on a baking sheet and freeze for about 2 hours.

Once they are frozen, you can put them in a freezer bag and store them for up to 6 months.

Preserve Potatoes in A Root Cellar

If you want to preserve potatoes so they last for months, storing them in a root cellar is the best way.

A root cellar is a cool, dark, and humid place that is perfect for storing potatoes.

Potatoes stored in a root cellar will last for several months with good ventilation.

To store potatoes in a root cellar, wash and brush the potatoes to remove any dirt. Then, place the potatoes in a single layer on a wire rack in the root cellar.

Make sure that there is good air circulation around the potatoes. Another option is to place them into crates, wicker baskets, or five-gallon buckets like we did.

potatoes in a root cellar

As long as they are dry, they should not rot. Also, potatoes should not have had any frost damage.

Frost-damaged potatoes will rot quickly due to excess moisture, and cause other good potatoes to rot as well.

Check on the potatoes every few weeks and remove any that have gone bad. With proper care, potatoes stored in a root cellar can last for several months.

Preserve Potatoes By Canning 

Another way to preserve potatoes so they last for months is by canning them.

Canning potatoes is a bit more work than other preservation methods, but it will allow you to store the potatoes for up to a year.

To can potatoes, wash and peel the potatoes. Cut the potatoes into small pieces and place them in a pot of boiling water. Boil the potatoes for 2-3 minutes.

After boiling, put the potatoes in a canning jar and add enough water to cover the potatoes.

Add 1 teaspoon of salt per quart of jar size.

Then, seal the jars with a canning lid and ring.

Pressure canning is recommended for potatoes, and is a great option for long-term storage. Canned potatoes work great for potato salad, soup, and even as mashed potatoes.

Process the jars in a pressure canner according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once processed, the potatoes will last for up to a year.

Preserve Potatoes By Freezing 

Freezing potatoes is a quick and easy way to preserve them for months. To freeze potatoes, wash and peel the potatoes. You can blanch them if you prefer.

Cut the potatoes into small pieces and spread them out on a baking sheet. Freeze the potatoes for 2 hours, or until they are solid.

After they are frozen, you can put the potatoes in a freezer bag and store them for up to 6 months.

freezing potatoes in a sheet

When ready to use the potatoes, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight. Frozen potatoes can obtain a sweet taste, which might not be preferred.

Conclusion

Preserving potatoes is a great way to extend their shelf life.

There are several methods that you can use to preserve potatoes, you just have to choose the method that’s right for you!

Do you plan on learning how to preserve potatoes for winter? It’s especially helpful to know how when you have large quantities of new potatoes.

Homegrown potatoes are a favorite around here, and we use them a lot!

Growing a potato crop to feel your family is a simple way to decrease the food bill and it’s a healthy choice for a lot of meals.

Homemade french fries, baked and mashed potatoes with homegrown turkey. So good!

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