How to Store Potatoes

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2011 • all rights reserved

How to store potatoes for the longest life! Six simple "rules" to keep them for months.

On one hand, potatoes are pretty easy to store.  But on the other, there are a few things that you need to consider in deciding where to put them.

For the longest life, potatoes need to be stored in a place that’s:

  • Cool
  • Dry
  • Dark
  • Away from onions
  • Not in plastic bags
  • No pressure points (like with wire baskets)

When potatoes are stored in heat and/or light, they start to turn green and/or sprout.  And if potatoes are mixed with onions or stored in plastic bags that can trap humidity, they’ll rot far faster than they would otherwise.  Wire baskets and other containers that put pressure in small areas bruise potatoes and from there, rot will start.

I didn’t know all this when we began cruising, and tossed my onions and potatoes in one big clear plastic bag and stuck it in a gear hammock near the ceiling, next to a very large hatch.  This was in August, in Puerto Vallarta — over 100 degrees outside. Basically, I had violated every “rule.”

And I paid for it.  In a couple of days, I thought I smelled something a little off . . . and the next day noticed some “rot-drops” on the table where they’d seeped out of the plastic bag (yes, the mess wasn’t even contained).  YUCK!

Learn from my experience:  a much better way is to take the potatoes out of any plastic bag and put them in a plastic bin.  The exact size and shape of the bin will vary depending on the space where you intend to put it, but my preference  is for one with a solid bottom (so that if one does rot, the mess doesn’t drip into the rest of the locker) and ventilated sides (for air flow).  I really like the Sterilite ventilated bins as shown in the photo at the top of this article.

I had one under-settee locker that was ventilated, and I kept the bin there.  It was one of the coolest places on the boat as well as being dark and dry.  Potatoes would easily last a couple of months as long as they hadn’t been bruised in the store.  I learned not to even bother to buy any that looked abused — they just didn’t last, and the rot would quickly spread to others.

Potatoes are one of the longest-lasting veggies on a boat, if you are careful in storing them.  Enjoy!

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  1. Bob Bechler says:

    The best way I have found is the old fashioned potato sack. Happily I was able to buy some potatoes in Samoa that came in brown burlap bags. I transfer purchases to these bags and they work great.

    Thanks for the tips on recovering ‘sketchy’ potatoes….

  2. How timely! I was just looking for a new way to store my spuds!

  3. Perfect! Thank you! Not a day goes by without a potato being eaten aboard Camille.

  4. It seems to me that those really light yellow, almost white potatoes last a lot longer than russets and other brown potatoes. Has anyone else found this to be true?

  5. You know, I hadn’t thought about that . . . used to buy the really light ones often but haven’t seen them in the store for a while. I’m going to have to look!

  6. is heading off right now to get her potatoes out of the plastic bag!
    Thanks for the tips!

  7. I have never in my life seen potatoes in a burlap sack… but I have seen many burlap sacks used in making pottery, perhaps finding a location near you that does this would be helpful? They could direct you where to find them, or perhaps give up some old ones? Clay is just dirt after all right?

  8. Jacques Landry says:

    Krissy, you must be very young, as just 20 years ago one could not buy large quantities of potatoes that were not a burlap bag ! 50 pound bags were the norm! You can find rice from India or China in a burlap bag in any ethnic store, and even at Costco, Sam and the likes. You can also find “hemp” bag in many places in the US and Canada and they are just like burlap bags. Look at the onlinefabricstore on the web, they have burlap bags.

    Thanks for all the fun and instructive posts ! Really enjoying this.

  9. Linda Nagle says:

    Why is it important not to store potatoes and onions side by side? I have two plastic bin side by side, one for potatoes and one for onions. I never store them in the same bin. Is this ok?

  10. ron guetlein says:

    Most of your small towns have feed stores, that is where I have been buying burlap bags for years.

  11. gene koblick says:

    When we cruised the Sea of Cortez, I would wet my burlap bags and cover the fresh fish we caught. Cooled them off and kept them in good condition for eating. Then I used to buy 2 kilo’s of shrimp, fresh off the boats and pigged out on shrimp and cervasa. We spent 2 years in the Sea. Owned a Palapa at what was Playa Santespec

  12. More great advice, was aware of storing potatoes in the dark but not to avoid storing them with onions – will keep them separated until they go into the stew together.

  13. Paula Richard says:

    Great rules. Add one more. Toss an apple in with the stored potatoes to further inhibit sprouting.

  14. Damn! I too keep them with my onions. 🙁 ..not anymore! Thanks for the tips 🙂

  15. What about bugs (roaches, ants)? Will they find the open container of food too appealing to resist?

  16. the apple works great, it allows them to be kept for ages.

  17. Tiffany Levesque says:

    I usually buy discarded burlap sacks from our local coffee roaster. All of her beans are imported from many of the countries popular with cruisers. Most are large enough to make at least 2-3 smaller bags. Plus they just look cool.
    Thank you for all the awesome tips!
    S/V Symbion

  18. charlie Jones says:

    just a note. Red potatoes keep longer than white ones

  19. D and Don says:

    What about sweet potatoes? Do the same rules apply?


  20. years ago when i lived aboard I would use a bucket with water and about a 1/4 cup of bleach to 2-3 gallons of water and soak for a short time all vegtables then wipe them down and store the blaech kills all surface bacteria that promote spoilage

  21. If potatoes and onions are in different cardboard boxes next to each other would they keep ok??

    • It’s better if they are further, but the reality is that mine are usually in plastic bins next to each other simply because that’s how the space works. It’s definitely better than putting them in the same bin, I’ve learned!

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