Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How Do You Store Potatoes?

The potato vines are all starting to die back now. This means that in another week or so, I'll finally get my answer as to if the bins did better this year over last year, or not. If the volunteers are any indication, it's been a good year for them in general; I've dug three of the random plants out already and have been pleased to see a good number of medium-sized tubers on each vine.

So, between the 7 bins, I'm anticipating at least 25 pounds of potatoes coming in. Seeing as how there's just the two of us, I need to come up with a way to make sure all of those spuds last through the cold months. Our main food storage area is in our basement, which stays around 55 degrees year 'round, and we have a dehumidifier to keep things from getting too damp. Unfortunately, 55 degrees is a bit warmer than is recommended for a root cellar (they should be around 40-45) so keeping the potatoes in there isn't a sure thing.

There are other options for storing potatoes that I think could work for us. I've been reading up on dehydrating and canning as possibilities, and I'm curious. I remember, vaguely, disliking store-bought canned potatoes as a kid, but I have never tried home-canned ones. Because they're a low-acid vegetable, I'll need to use the pressure canner versus a water bath, just to keep things safe. I happen to have some potatoes in the pantry that are starting to look a little rough, so I think I'll make up a test batch to see how they turn out. There's no real comparison between store-bought potatoes and home grown, but I think it'll be close enough to see if we like them canned or not.

To dry potatoes, it seems that they need to be cut thin and blanched, in order to take out some of the starch and prevent discoloration. That seems easy enough, so I'll definitely do a test batch of those, as well. I'd like to see how well they rehydrate before I invest too much time and energy into them.

I should probably look at freezing, too, while I'm coming up with ideas. We need to get a chest freezer anyway, with the beef coming in soon, so I think I'll have some extra cold storage space. I imagine it's really similar to drying, in that we'll need to blanch them first- so I could test freezing and drying out at the same time since the preparation is essentially the same.

Do you have any experience with canning, drying, or freezing potatoes? Or something I haven't thought of yet? Let me know over on Facebook; I'm always open for suggestions!

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