Almost everyone I know loves the humble, wholesome potato. What’s not to like? They’re easy to plant, easy to harvest, simple to save for the next year’s planting and are extremely versatile in the kitchen. Once the autumn leaves change color, here’s how we cure potatoes for winter storage.
Already, some of you may be asking the question: “what is curing and why do it?”
Curing is the simple process of letting your potatoes sit in a semi-warm environment before placing them in storage. During this time, the skin will thicken and any nicks or scrapes will heal over.
We do it for this reason alone: cured potatoes last longer in storage. Ever heard the expression “one bad apple can spoil the bunch?” It’s true of potatoes as well! One rotting potato can ruin a sack.
So, we cure.
After harvesting your potatoes, bring them indoors to cure in a dark(ish) place. If exposed to sunlight, the peels will turn green and bitter. This also makes them slightly poisonous. So don’t!
For the best results, potatoes should be cured in a place that is not only dark, but also mildly warm. Around 50-60F will do nicely.
Oh, and never wash potatoes intended for storage! You’ll remove their protective coating and they won’t store as long.
I know, I know! You can buy pre-washed potatoes at the grocery store and they seem to do just fine!
But actually, those aren’t wholesome, earthy, natural potatoes. They’ve been exposed to synthetic chemicals that prolong their shelf life. Trust me on this one! Or better yet, read this article.
Where were we? Oh yes!
I like to lay out an old bed sheet before I dump my dirt-crusted potatoes for curing. Because they are dirty. And that dirt will go everywhere, unless contained.
Once the sheet is down, I gently spread my potatoes across it’s surface.
Sometimes I turn them half way through the curing process. Other times, I don’t. Sometimes I leave them for a week. Other times, I forget and let them sit for 3 weeks.
Regardless of how long you let them sit, you know they’re ready for storage when the nicks have hardened over.
And if you cut into some of your spuds with a shovel, set those ones aside and use them first. Whole, intact potatoes will last longer. Remember: one bad potato can spoil a sack!
Once cured, we store our potatoes in woven-plastic feed sacks. To prevent bruising the bottom potatoes, we fill the sacks just past the half way point. They do well on the floor of our cold room. And we feast on them all winter long!
Baked potato, mashed potato, oven-roasted potato, potato wedges, potato soup, potato pie, hashed potato, baked potato…did I already say that one?
Yep, that’s how we eat…I mean cure potatoes for winter storage!