Potatoes are a globally loved and super versatile food which can be enjoyed in such a wide variety of ways at any time of year. I always have a stockpile of potatoes in my pantry, but often find one that has rolled out of sight and doesn’t look quite right.
Although potatoes can last a decent amount of time if you are able to store them in optimal conditions, they will go bad at some point and eventually become inedible.
Stored at room temperature, you have one or two weeks before potatoes start sprouting or deteriorating in quality. However, if you can provide the ideal storage environment as outlined in our storage section, you might find your potatoes lasting two to three months or more.
Is it safe to eat old potatoes? Join me in finding out if potatoes go bad, and how we can make them last longer.
Potato Shelf Life & Expiration Dates
Correct storage is the make or break factor for giving potatoes a long life. Raw potatoes are still alive, even when plucked from the vine, so they continue to grow and develop.
Exposure to various environmental factors will also impact a potato’s appearance, flavor, texture, and quality, so there are many different ways in which a potato can go “bad” or become less palatable.
The Idaho Potato Commission advise that in specially controlled storage, potatoes can be stored for around one year. But chances are you don’t have the facilities for this in your home.
So, how long do potatoes actually last for the average joe?
- Russet/white potatoes – stored in optimal conditions, these hardy potatoes can last up to five months.
- Yukon gold/fingerling/red potatoes/new potatoes – these varieties have a slightly shorter shelf life – stored in ideal conditions, they may stay good for as long as three months.
- Prepared/sliced raw potato – if fully submerged in cold water and carefully stored in the fridge, prepared raw potato should be okay for up to 24 hours.
- Countertop storage – all potato varieties will only be good for one or two weeks if stored out on the counter.
- Cupboard storage – stored in a cupboard or pantry at the warmer side of room temperature, you only have one or two weeks before your potatoes start to sprout.
- Fridge storage – can be stored in the fridge if you don’t have a nice cool area to keep them in. They can last three to four weeks in the fridge but will undergo transformations to taste and texture.
- Freezer storage – It is not recommended to freeze raw potatoes, the quality changes are too dramatic and they will be almost inedible.
- Cooked potatoes should always be stored in the fridge or freezer, depending on how they have been prepared. They can last a week in the fridge, stored correctly, or several months in the freezer before degrading.
SEE ALSO: How Long Do Sweet Potatoes Last?
How Long Do Potatoes Last In The Fridge?
We don’t recommend storing raw potatoes in the fridge unless you can’t find a cool enough area elsewhere in the house.
The cold temperatures in a refrigerator rapidly turn the starch inside a potato to sugar, creating a much sweeter flavor and changing the texture.
Stored in the fridge, raw potatoes may last around a month before losing some of those precious qualities that make them so delicious.
Cooked potatoes, on the other hand, should be stored in the fridge in sealed containers. We recommend consuming cooked potato within one week when correctly stored in the fridge.
How To Tell If Potatoes Are Bad
Long before a potato goes bad, it will undergo other changes, such as sprouting or changing color. These changes don’t usually mean that a potato is spoiling, rather that the quality is starting to degrade.
In this section, we’ll focus on the changes you’ll see that indicate a potato is inedible, and discuss the other transformations further on.
Here’s what to look out for:
- Wrinkles – as potatoes age, they start to shrivel up and wrinkle, becoming squishy and withered. Once you see these signs of old age, you should discard your potatoes, as they will no longer be pleasant to eat.
- Mold – potatoes can grow mold, particularly if exposed to moisture – this is why it’s best not to wash them before storage. If you see any abnormal coloration or fuzziness, you may be able to cut out the area of mold – but slice open the potato to check it hasn’t penetrated too far first.
- Musty smell – old potatoes will no longer have that fresh, earthy scent and will start to smell “musty” and unpleasant. This is a good indication that they are no longer edible.
Are Sprouted Potatoes Safe To Eat?
Because potatoes are alive, they continue to sprout and grow even when separated from the potato vine – unless they are put into a form of “hibernation” or stasis storage.
If exposed to warmer temperatures, potatoes will rapidly sprout, but the good news is that they are still perfectly safe to eat – as long as you cut off the sprouts and dispose of them.
While sprouted potatoes may not be quite as delicious as fresher potatoes, they’ll still do the job, although we recommend consuming them within a week of sprouting – after this, they will decline more rapidly and not be so tasty.
Can You Eat Potatoes With A Green Tinge?
Green potatoes aren’t spoiled potatoes. The green tinge happens when a potato is exposed to light – either natural or artificial. It’s actually just chlorophyll growing in the skin. Some varieties of potato will develop a purple tinge when exposed to light.
Green-tinged potatoes are perfectly safe to eat – the skin will be rather bitter, so best not to consume it – cut or peel away the green areas and enjoy the rest of your potato.
Can You Eat Soft Potatoes?
Good potatoes should be firm and crisp when raw. If you can squeeze your potato and it gives, this is a sign that it is turning bad – or has already turned.
If there is no sign of mold, it should be safe to eat, but will be lower quality and better mashed or shredded to make hash browns.
How To Store Potatoes At Home
As we’ve mentioned, potatoes keep developing even after they are picked and stored. In order to keep them fresher for longer, the goal is to encourage them to enter a sort of potato hibernation.
To do this, you need to provide the right environment – the most important factors are temperature, humidity, and light.
The potato professionals at Idaho Potato Commission say the perfect temperature for storing potatoes is between 42 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit, but humidity is also important and should sit at around 95%.
This may not be viable for many home storage options, so do your best by providing a cool, dark area (slightly cooler than room temperature is ideal).
Don’t forget to minimize exposure to light to stop your potatoes developing a green tinge.
Potatoes need to breathe, so don’t store them in a plastic bag or airtight container. The best option is a paper or mesh bag, a cardboard box or a basket.
You may be tempted to throw your onions (which have similar storage requirements) in the pile with your potatoes – don’t do it! Both onions and potatoes release gases which speed up the ripening or spoiling process of the other.
Related | How Long Do Onions Last?
Cooked potatoes should always be stored in the fridge in an airtight container.
Can You Freeze Potatoes?
Although technically you can freeze raw potatoes and they will last indefinitely, they do not cope well with the process, undergoing texture changes that will render them virtually useless for anything other than mashing when thawed.
You can, however, freeze cooked potato – including mashed potatoes, French fries, and hash browns. Seal cooked potato products in an airtight container and eat them within two months for best quality.