How Long Do Potatoes Last?
You have five pounds of potatoes in the pantry—or more! How long do potatoes last?
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The rule of thumb when it comes to potatoes is “more is better.” You never know how many people will want a second helping of these starchy spuds, which is why so many of us buy potatoes in 5- or 10-pound bags. And there’s no harm in doing so, because they’ll store well, right? Probably, but it’s good to ask yourself, “How long do potatoes last?”
The answer may surprise you!
The Shelf Life of Potatoes
If stored in the pantry, potatoes can last for one to two months, says Dr. Vanessa Coffman, Director of the Alliance to Stop Foodborne Illness. Since “best by” dates are only regulated for infant formula, consumers should check the packaging to see if there’s a “use by” date, which indicates when the potato will be at its peak quality or have the best flavor. Also, find out if it is safe to eat raw potatoes.
It’s not always easy to tell when cooked potatoes have gone bad, so err on the side of caution. “Cooked potatoes, like all leftovers, should be stored in the refrigerator and eaten within three to four days,” says Coffman.
How to Store Potatoes
Don’t place your potatoes in a bowl on the kitchen counter and expect them to hang in there all week. “Potatoes should be stored in a well-ventilated cool, dry and dark place, ideally between 45-55°F—otherwise there’s risk of potatoes going bad,” says Coffman. In fact, learning how to store potatoes and onions (spoiler: they aren’t friends) will increase the longevity of both ingredients.
Within two hours, transfer leftover cooked potatoes into a shallow container and place in a refrigerator with a temperature of 40°. Why? After two hours, Coffman says the leftovers become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, such as staphylococcus aureus, campylobacter, E. coli and salmonella that can make someone violently ill with diarrhea and vomiting.
How to Tell When Potatoes Are Bad
Examine the potato on all sides. If it’s soft, has a musty or moldy odor, dark spots or blemishes, or if it’s turned green, it’s bad (though you can eat green potatoes.) The same is true if you spot sprouts on your potatoes. “If in doubt, throw it out, as foods with harmful bacteria may not look, smell or even taste different,” says Coffman.
Outside of seeing actual mold growing on your leftovers, it’s nearly impossible to know when they’ve gone bad. Foodborne pathogens are invisible to the naked eye, says Coffman, so any cooked potatoes older than four days should be thrown out.
Tips for Storing Potatoes
The real answer to “how long do potatoes last” may come down to these smart tricks:
Don’t Refrigerate Potatoes
You may think the ideal “cool, dark and dry” storage spot sounds like a fridge, but that’s not the case. Potatoes are one of the foods that shouldn’t be stored in the refrigerator. Storage temps below 45° can cause the starches to convert to sugar and change the taste of your tuber.
Keep Them Unwashed
If you’re used to prepping your produce ahead of time (especially root veggies with dirt on the skin), remind yourself to skip that step when it comes to potatoes. Potatoes shouldn’t be washed until you’re ready to use them, because the moisture from washing can promote growth of fungus and bacteria, shortening their shelf life.
Choose a Long-Lasting Variety
If storage length is of utmost concern, know that some types of potatoes don’t last as long as others. For instance, red potatoes won’t keep as long as yellow or white ones, and thin-skinned options don’t last as long as those with thicker skins (e.g., Russets and Yukon Gold are more suitable for long-term storage).
The Best Potato Storage Containers
There’s a reason potatoes have their own storage containers. It’s not a ploy to get you to buy another kitchen gadget or make your pantry look super organized like in all those inspirational TikTok videos; potatoes require special containers to stay fresher longer.
There are various functional potato storage containers for every type of kitchen, but here are a few favorites: a farmhouse-styled 3-piece storage set for potatoes, onions and garlic (they all thrive in the same environment as long as they are separated from one another); the practical KitchenCraft Natural Elements potato bag with blackout lining for ultimate protection and this stackable wire basket cart.