How to Keep Potatoes from Sprouting

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Sprouted Potato. Photo © Erin Huffstetler

Tired of having your potatoes sprout before you get around to using them? A couple changes to the way you store them should solve the problem. Here's the deal:

Potatoes need to be kept in a cool spot (45-50 degrees is ideal), and they need to be kept away from sunlight. That means your kitchen (while convenient) may not be the ideal place to store them. If you have a basement or a cellar that isn't climate controlled, that's probably the best place for them.

Because potatoes are 80% water, they do best in a humid environment. But just like any other fruit or vegetable, they will rot is they become wet. Transfer your potatoes to a breathable container when you get them home from the store (or after you bring them in from your garden). A paper bag or a basket works well for this. Just roll up the bag or drape a piece of newspaper or cloth over the basket to keep the sunlight out.

Also, be sure to keep your potatoes away from appliances (they put off a lot of heat) and other types of fruits and vegetables. Those storage bins that are designed to hold potatoes and onions are a bad idea because they'll cause both vegetables to go bad faster. Maybe that's why you always see them at yard sales.

Can You Refrigerate Potatoes?

While refrigerating potatoes will keep them from sprouting, you'll just be trading one problem for two more. The too-cold temperature causes potato starch to convert to sugar (resulting in strangely sweet potatoes), and it also causes them to take on an unappetizing greyish-brown color when they're cooked.

So, save some fridge space, and store your potatoes elsewhere.