We Tried 7 Methods for Storing Potatoes and the Winner Was Such a Surprise

published Nov 7, 2023
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Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Tom Hoerup

Here’s to the humble, dependable spud. It has to be one of the top kitchen staples of all time, loved for its versatility — giving us creamy mashes, comforting hashes, cheesy gratins, crisp fries, crunchy chips, fluffy bakes to load with butter and sour cream, and much more. 

Quick Overview

So, What Is the Best Way to Store Potatoes?

After two months, potatoes stored in a cardboard box fared the best in terms of texture, lack of sprouts, and flavor.

We tend to take this kitchen stalwart for granted, stashing it in the pantry with little care and expecting it to be there at our beck and call. But that doesn’t always pan out. How many times have you reached for your potatoes, only to discover that they’ve sprouted what looks like a coral reef? 

To learn the best options for storing potatoes so that they stay as fresh, firm, and sprout-free as possible, I set about finding some of the top advice the internet has to offer. Just about all recommendations say to stash them in a cool and dry place — in a basket, a bag, a box, a bowl, and so on. I put these and more to the test and was surprised that the winning method surpassed the others as much as it did.

How I Found the Best Way to Store Potatoes

  • The potatoes: In an effort to find potatoes that were roughly the same age, I purchased a 10-pound bag of russets and 2 (5-pound) bags of Yukon golds from the same store on the same day, figuring they would have been harvested at around the same time. For each method, I used 3 russet and 3 Yukon gold potatoes. 
  • The storage spaces: I cleared out a large shelf in my pantry (the proverbial “cool, dark place”) and stored the potatoes for 6 of the 7 tests there. There was enough room to arrange them in a single layer, a little spaced apart. I made sure that there were no onions nearby, as that’s bad for both. The last test took place in my refrigerator’s crisper drawer.
  • The testing: I stored the potatoes for 2 months. In the first month, I checked on them every week, and there was virtually no change in any of them. I checked again at 6 weeks and started to notice a few differences in the appearance and texture of some of the potatoes. I let them go another 2 weeks, and that’s what I’ve reported on here. With the top 5 methods, I cooked the potatoes so that I could taste them (I didn’t feel that the other 2 methods were completely safe to eat). For the potatoes that fared well in storage, I peeled, cubed, and boiled each batch in 4 cups of water with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. 
  • Ratings: I judged each method on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 representing perfection. I considered the appearance and texture of the potatoes — whether they had smooth or shriveled skins, if they had an abundance or a lack of sprouts, if they felt firm or squishy. I also considered the flavor of the ones I advanced to the cooking phase of testing.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Tom Hoerup

Potato Storing Method: In a Bowl

Rating: 3/10

About this method: I used a large ceramic bowl (my pho bowl) for this test. It was wide enough to hold all 6 potatoes so that they didn’t pile on top of each other. 

Results: At the end of my testing period, the russet potatoes had developed not just sprouts, but also alarmingly long shoots (2 to 3 inches long); the Yukon golds had a fair amount of sprouts on them. All of the potatoes had slightly wrinkled skin and felt a bit squishy. I tossed all of these potatoes in the compost.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Tom Hoerup

Potato Storing Method: In a Basket

Rating: 4/10 

About this method: I used two small wicker baskets to test this method: one for the russets and one for the Yukon golds. They fit into the baskets in a single layer.

Results: At the two-month mark, the Yukon golds felt soft and had lots of well-developed sprouts. The russets were a bit squishy, with wrinkly skins, and one was completely rotted (felt like pudding under the skin, which thankfully stayed intact as I removed the potato from the basket). I did not advance these potatoes to the cooking/tasting phase.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Tom Hoerup

Potato Storing Method: In the Fridge

Rating: 6/10

About this method: I pursued this method after reading that the long-held advice of not storing potatoes in the refrigerator (due to safety concerns) had been reversed after a semi-recent study. So I placed the 6 potatoes in my crisper drawer, on a single layer on top of a paper towel. 

Results: All of the potatoes were completely free of sprouts, but they all felt a little soft and the russets’ skins were a bit shriveled. I moved on to the cooking/tasting test with them. When I cut in, the russets felt relatively firm and moist; the Yukon golds were a bit soft. Once boiled, the flavor of both was mild and quite toned down — not bad but far blander than a potato usually tastes.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Tom Hoerup

Potato Storing Method: Original Packaging

Rating: 7/10 

About this method: I used the plastic bags that the potatoes came in at the store. The russets’ bag had a mesh panel on the back, and the Yukon golds’ bag had small holes interspersed on the underside. I arranged the bags so that the potatoes rested in a single layer on the pantry shelf.

Results: The Yukon golds had a few small sprouts on them, but the russet potatoes were sprout-free. All of the potatoes felt firm, with mostly taut skins (although the russets had a little wrinkling). When I cut into them for cooking, they all felt firm and moist. The flavor was diluted, tasting like a potato at 60 percent.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Tom Hoerup

Potato Storing Method: In a Mesh Bag

Rating: 7/10 

About this method: My mesh bag was 100 percent cotton with a tight weave, although there are mesh bags that are made from food-safe plastic. I tucked the potatoes in and arranged the bag so that the spuds rested in a single layer on the shelf.

Results: The results here were virtually the same as with the original packaging method — a few small sprouts on the Yukon golds, none on the russets. The potatoes felt firm, with the slightest bit of give in the russets. When I cut them, they were all firm and moist. When cooked, the flavor seemed equally watered-down.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Tom Hoerup

Potato Storing Method: In a Paper Bag

Rating: 8.5/10 

About this method: I used a couple of regular brown paper lunch bags for this test — one for each type of potato. Because each bag only contained 3 potatoes, the spuds were able to rest inside the bag in a single layer. 

Results: All of the potatoes felt firm, but the russets showed the slightest bit of shriveling in their skins. The russets had developed no sprouts at all, but the Yukon golds had a few small sprouts. When I cut them for cooking, they were firm and beyond moist; they were actually juicy. Cooked, they tasted a little richer than the potatoes stored in the mesh and plastic bags, but still the flavor was a little weak. 

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Tom Hoerup

Potato Storing Method: In a Cardboard Box

Rating: 10/10 

About this method: I placed all 6 potatoes in a small cardboard box that was just big enough to hold them in a single layer. I did not seal the box; the top flaps barely folded down and remained mostly open.

Results: There was a noticeable difference in the appearance of these spuds, as they all had perfectly taut skins. The Yukon golds sprouted just a bit, but the russets did not. All of the potatoes felt nice and firm. When I cut them, they felt snappy, firm, and moist. After I boiled them, I was surprised by their flavor. Compared to all of the other potatoes I tested, these had the richest flavor, like a slightly concentrated baked potato. I wouldn’t have believed there would be such a difference if I hadn’t experienced it firsthand. 

Overall Key Takeaways

In general, potatoes are made for long storage — as long as they’re kept in a cool, dry place and, if possible, in a single layer. As I noted above in my methodology notes, all of the potatoes I stored remained in good shape up to the six-week point. But in the last couple of weeks of storage, some spuds started to go downhill. 

Yukon golds tend to develop sprouts more than russets, so when you shop, know that you’ll want to use those up within a month to six weeks; russets stored in a cardboard box can go as long as two full months with no compromise in texture or flavor. 

This post originally appeared on The Kitchn. See it there: We Tried 7 Ways of Storing Potatoes and the Winner Outlasted Them All for Months