Do Potatoes Go Bad?

Do potatoes go bad or not? Can you store potatoes in the freezer? Here's the ultimate guide on how to tell if your potatoes have gone bad with storage tips.

We’ve all heard that potatoes are meant to last for ages, so why aren’t yours?

Today, we’re running through the signs that a potato has gone off, as well as how to store your potatoes and why exactly yours might be going bad so fast.

What’s the bad news?

Unless you have a temperature-regulated pantry or cellar, it’s unlikely you have the optimum storage environment for potatoes.

But the good news?

With our advice, tips, and hacks, you can extend the life of your potatoes as much as possible.

TLDR: Depending on the climate of your area, you should probably store your potatoes in a cupboard. If you notice them emitting a weird smell, drying up, or going soft, those are surefire signs that your potato needs to go in the trash.

Help! Are My Potatoes Bad?

boiled potatoes

First things first, if your potatoes are starting to sprout, that’s okay. They’re not bad yet, so just cut the sprouts off. However, this is a sign of aging, so you should eat your potatoes now.

It’s important to remember to cut the sprouts off, as they contain toxic glycoalkaloids, which aren’t broken down by cooking. You’ll find the same harmful chemical in any green spots that occur in areas exposed to sunlight.

The same goes for any other imperfections, like dark brown spots, you find on the potato’s skin. As long as it’s relatively surface-level, and the potato isn’t exhibiting any signs of going bad, as detailed below, just cut the imperfection out, and you should be good to go.

The next sign you should look for is a change in moisture levels. Your potatoes may have dried out and shriveled or gone mushy, depending on the humidity in your storage area. If your potatoes have done either, they’re ready for the trash.

You’ll also notice a musty smell emitting from bad potatoes. Generally speaking, if your food smells different from how it normally does, it’s time for the bin.

As for cooked potatoes, things get a little more complicated since it’s hard to tell if they’ve gone bad. The best rule of thumb is to reheat to 165 ° F (or 75 ° C), as this will kill any looming bacteria, and go by cooked potato storage instructions. More on that later.

How To Store Potatoes

potatoes in bucket and hands

You may be wondering: should I wash my potatoes before I store them?

The answer is no. Moisture will make your potatoes go bad faster. If your potatoes are homegrown and muddy, use a brush to lift off the excess dirt.

Now, the bad news.

It’s pretty difficult to find an optimum storage location for potatoes. That’s because the ideal temperature for storage is 47 ° F (or 8 ° C), making the fridge too cold and room temperature too warm.

If you’ve got a temperature-regulated pantry or underground cellar, then that’s where your potatoes should go.

However, if you don’t have that luxury, you should look to the refrigerator or a cool cupboard, whichever will be closer to the desired temperature of 47 ° F. In a hot state, that will probably be the refrigerator. In a cold state, that will be a cupboard in your kitchen that’s not next to the stove.

For those of you storing your potatoes in a cupboard, pantry, or cellar, keep your potatoes away from light and heat sources. It’s also a good idea to cut holes in the plastic bag your potatoes come in or transfer them to a mesh bag or basket. That’s because potatoes need ventilation to stay fresh.

However, you may want to store your potatoes in the refrigerator. This method does come with problems since the cool temperatures cause the starch in potatoes to turn to sugar, making the potato taste sweeter.

Plus, your refrigerated potato will change color when it’s being cooked, though that won’t affect the taste or texture. If you want to avoid this color change, simply let the potato warm to room temperature on the counter before cooking.

Our exclusive top tips for storing your raw potatoes?

If you’ve got lots of potatoes, consider storing them in batches. That way, if one potato goes bad, it will only spoil the others in its bag, not your whole collection.

Remember to check once a week to remove the bad potatoes in storage. Bacteria and mold will spread between potatoes that are touching, so it’s important to pick out bad ones as soon as you spot them.

As for cooked potatoes, storage is pretty standard. Store cooked potatoes in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

If you want long-term storage, you can also freeze potatoes. Mashed potatoes won’t freeze well, as it will change their texture. However, you can get away with this slight texture change if you make sure to heat your mash up and mix well before serving.

As for freezing chips, you should cook them first, then flash freeze them. To do this, let your chips cool, spread them on a baking sheet, and cover them with cling film. Leave that in the freezer for 2 hours before transferring the chips to an airtight container and returning to the freezer.

Flash freezing will allow easy portioning, as it stops the chips from sticking together.

When you’re ready to eat your chips, just heat them up in the oven.

How Long Will My Potatoes Last In The Pantry, Refrigerator, and Freezer?

cooked and sliced potatoes

Potatoes boast a pretty heft shelf life, especially if they’re stored in ideal conditions.

Expect your potatoes to last 1-2 months in a cool pantry or cellar, two weeks at room temperature in a cupboard, and 3-4 weeks in the fridge, though that last option does come with its own problems. Scroll up if you missed that.

Once you’ve cooked, mashed, boiled, or fried your potatoes, you can store them in the refrigerator for 3-5 days and in the freezer for a whole year!

Potatoes: The Rundown

Here’s a summary of everything you need to know about how long potatoes last, how to tell if a potato has gone bad, and how to store potatoes:

Before cooking your potato, you should cut off any surface-level imperfections on the skin.

Throw out potatoes that smell musty, are dried up, or are mushy.

A cool pantry is the best place to store raw potatoes. Failing that, you’re probably best off leaving your potatoes in your cupboard.

Your potatoes will last 1-2 months in optimum storage conditions.

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Alisa Shimoyama

Alisa eats her way around the world on her travels and likes to have good food ready and waiting for her when she gets back.