How to Store Potatoes (Hint: Not in the Refrigerator)

Get the lowdown on how to store potatoes to get the most out of your spuds

A 3-pound bag of potatoes is more economical than buying a single potato for one recipe. If you buy more potatoes than you need, you know you can use them up with any number of recipes (our current favorite: Melting Potatoes). But sometimes, you might not be ready to eat them before they get soft and begin to sprout. Stored correctly, potatoes can last two to three months (depending on how long they've been sitting on the store shelf). How can you extend their shelf life once you've taken them home? We can help. Here's how to store (and how not to store) potatoes, so they last as long as possible. (Also learn How to Freeze Potatoes to make them last even longer.)

2 potatoes - one half peeled
Creativ Studio Heinemann / Getty

Pictured Recipe: Pressure-Cooker Chicken, Potatoes & Peppers

Don't Store Your Potatoes in the Fridge

Most potato varieties might last for a week or more in the fridge, but it's not ideal. The refrigerator is too cold for spuds—they like temperatures at about 40-50°F, while your refrigerator's temperature should be under 40°F. At lower temperatures, the starch is converted to sugar. When they're cooked at very high temperatures (frying, roasting), that sugar may help the potato form acrylamide, a substance that may cause cancer if it's consumed in large quantities. (Check out The Best Way to Store Fruits and Veggies here.)

Don't Store Your Potatoes in Sunlight

If you've ever let your potatoes sit too long in the sunlight, you may notice that they start to sprout and turn green just under the skin. The green color is chlorophyll. While chlorophyll is OK in some vegetables—it's found in all green plants—on a potato, it's an indication that there are glycoalkaloid toxins in it. You would have to eat a lot of glycoalkaloids for them to be very harmful, but even so, once you've got a green potato, it's best to get rid of it. Eating too many glycoalkaloids may cause flu-like symptoms like nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps.

Don't Store Them in the Original Packaging

If you carried your potatoes home from the grocery store in a plastic bag, resist the urge to leave them in there for long term storage. While potatoes love humidity, they like moisture in moderation. The plastic prevents air circulation and traps moisture in the bag. It's best to remove them from the original packaging when you unpack your groceries. And if your potatoes are dirty? Resist the urge to rinse them before you put them away for the same reason: the extra moisture may lead to rot.

Do Store Your Potatoes in a Dark Place

Potatoes last longer if you store them in a spot that doesn't get a lot of light, like a basement or root cellar. Not everyone has a basement or cellar, but keeping them in a kitchen drawer, cabinet or put the potatoes in a cool, dark corner of the counter would work fine.

Do Store Them So There's Plenty of Air Circulation

Wherever you store your potatoes, make sure they have room to breathe. The best way to store potatoes is in a produce basket so that air can get to them from all angles. If there aren't any produce baskets available, potatoes can also be stored in paper bags, a cardboard box or breathable produce bags that you can reuse to help your potatoes stay fresh.

Do Store Them Separately from Other Veggies

If you're looking to save space and want to store potatoes with other shelf-stable produce like onions, don't. Both potatoes and onions give off moisture and can cause one another to spoil faster. If you do happen to store them together and notice your potatoes sprouting? All is not lost. A potato that is growing sprouts is still usable. Just move it to a better location, away from other veggies and cut out the sprouts with a paring knife before using. Potatoes also emit a lot of ethylene gas which aids in the ripening of fruits and veggies–sometimes too fast.

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