Curing and Storing Potatoes

This season we planted 24 seed potatoes in six potato boxes, which we layered with compost until the boxes were filled to their tops. The vines have been dying back for a good month or so, but we left the potatoes in the boxes to allow their skins to thicken underground for storage. (Well, we dug up some to eat right away, but mostly we were planning ahead to have winter stores.) Since we've reached frost, they are definitely dead:


Today we dismantled two more potato boxes and dug up the potatoes in them. After digging up somewhere around 15 pounds of red and white potatoes, we spread them out in the sun to dry out. Normally we would do this on our patio table, but that was already in the shade by the early afternoon. So we set them on the top of the portable chicken run instead: 


At first we thought the chickens would be jumping up to peck at them, but the ladies were far too interested in gobbling up the last cherry tomatoes in that area (we put the girls out there to help with some fall garden cleanup, and they are quite effective at this). 

Once the potatoes have dried off in the sun, you brush the dirt off and set them to cure for a week to 10 days more. This allows the skins to dry out thoroughly before storage, which helps them last for much longer without rotting. To cure them, we set them on the counter on the porch, covered with newspaper:


The newspaper allows them to breathe and encourages the drying but also keeps them out of the light. When exposed to sunlight, potatoes will turn green and become sour (and also poisonous with oxalic acid, so the playground rumor about green potato chips is kinda true after all), so it's important to keep them covered while they cure. Our porch is cool, but not freezing, by the way, so it's a good spot for this. Here's a peek at the ones we dug up today:


When the potatoes are cured, they need breathable storage in a cool, dark place. We are trying a newspaper-lined milk crate this year:


Kirk also put a layer of newspaper on top to keep out the light before putting this in the basement. We'll add more potatoes to the box as they cure. We'll also have to check it regularly to remove any rotted potatoes, so the spoilage doesn't spread. 

Once they are in storage, you get to eat them! Tonight we had a mix of purple, red, and white potatoes roasted with olive oil, thyme and rosemary, and some salt and pepper:


This delicious autumn dinner also included smoky grilled venison tips and mashed butternut squash with a little maple syrup. (That particular squash had its stem torn off during harvest and needed to be eaten up pronto.) The perfect plate after a day of work outside in the crisp, fall weather. And for dessert? A new green tomato pie! ¡Viva otoño!

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