A Guide to Harvesting, Curing, and Storing Homegrown Potatoes

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Potatoes are one of the most versatile and widely consumed vegetables in the world. They can be baked, boiled, fried, mashed, or roasted, and are a staple in many cuisines. If you’re growing your own potatoes, it’s important to know when and how to harvest them, as well as how to properly cure and store them to ensure their longevity.

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Are you ready to reap the rewards of your potato-growing endeavors? Harvesting your homegrown potatoes is not just about digging them out of the soil; it’s a culmination of your hard work and dedication.

Check out our Ultimate Potato Growing Guide to get an abundance potato harvest!

When to Harvest Potatoes

harvesting potatoes

Potatoes are ready for harvest when the leaves and stems of the plant have begun to yellow and die back. This usually occurs in the late summer or early fall, depending on your location and climate. You can also check the readiness of your potatoes by gently digging around the base of the plant and feeling for the size of the potatoes.

If you’re growing early varieties of potatoes, or determinate potatoes, you can harvest them when they are still small and tender, about two to three months after planting. However, if you’re growing main crop or indeterminate varieties, you should wait until the plants have completely died back before harvesting.

How to Harvest Potatoes

To harvest potatoes, you could use a garden fork or a spade. Start by gently loosening the soil around the base of the plant, being careful not to damage the potatoes. You can also use your hands to carefully dig through the soil and uncover the potatoes.

Once you’ve uncovered the potatoes, remove them from the soil and gently brush off any excess dirt. Avoid washing the potatoes at this stage, as the moisture can promote decay during the curing process.

storing homegrown potatoes

How to Cure Potatoes

Curing is an essential step in the potato harvesting process that helps improve their flavor, texture, and storability.

  1. Create the Right Environment: Choose a well-ventilated, dark space for curing your potatoes, such as a cellar, garage, or shaded area. Avoid exposing them to direct sunlight, as this can cause them to turn green and develop a bitter taste.
  2. Spread Them Out: Lay the potatoes out in a single layer, allowing space between each tuber to promote air circulation. Avoid stacking or crowding them together, as this can increase the risk of rot.
  3. Let Them Cure: Allow the potatoes to cure for 1-2 weeks, during which time their skins will thicken and any minor cuts or bruises will heal. Keep an eye on them during this period and remove any potatoes that show signs of rot or decay.
best way to store potatoes

How to Store Potatoes

There are several ways to store potatoes, depending on the space you have available and the amount of potatoes you need to store. If you’re able, wrap each potato in newspaper to prevent the tubers from touching in order to prevent transmission of any mold spots that may appear.

  1. Choose the Right Containers: Opt for breathable storage containers such as burlap sacks, paper bags, or wooden crates. Avoid using plastic bags or airtight containers, as they can trap moisture and promote rot.
  2. Keep Them Cool and Dark: Store your potatoes in a cool, dark place with temperatures ranging from 45-50°F (7-10°C). Avoid storing them near onions or apples, as these produce ethylene gas, which can cause potatoes to sprout prematurely.
  3. Check Regularly: Periodically check your stored potatoes for signs of sprouting, rot, or decay. Remove any damaged or spoiled potatoes to prevent them from affecting the rest of the batch.

Storage in a Root Cellar or Cold Room: A root cellar or cold room is the ideal place to store potatoes, as it provides the perfect temperature and humidity levels. Ideally, the temperature should be between 35 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity should be around 95%. Store the potatoes in crates or baskets, making sure they are not touching each other.

Storage in a Cool, Dark Place: If you don’t have a root cellar or cold room, you can store potatoes in a cool, dark place like a pantry or basement. Make sure the temperature is between 45 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity is low. Store the potatoes in a crate or basket, again making sure they are not touching each other.

Storage in a Small Space: If you’re short on space, you can store potatoes in a paper or mesh bag hung from a hook in a cool, dark place. Make sure the bag has good ventilation.

Storage via Canning: Canning potatoes can be a great way to preserve your harvest and ensure you have delicious potatoes throughout the year. Just be sure to follow proper canning procedures and safety guidelines to ensure your canned potatoes are safe to eat.

By following these guidelines for harvesting, curing, and storing your homegrown potatoes, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor for months to come. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or new to the world of potato cultivation, mastering these essential techniques will help you savor the flavor of freshly harvested potatoes straight from your own backyard. Happy harvesting!

Hey Beautiful! I’m Tara, garden enthusiasts, keeper of chickens, herbal homesteader and stay at home mom of 3 tiny humans and a sourdough starter named Ma. I love teaching others how to live a self-sufficient and sustainable life through homesteading, scratch cooking, and remembering to live barefoot, wild and free!

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