When shopping for potatoes, look for clean, firm, smooth spuds with no soft spots, cuts, or bruises. Never buy a potato that is mushy, wrinkled, or already beginning to sprout. While green-tinted potatoes will not poison you, choose to purchase potatoes that are fresh and not discolored from exposure to light. When choosing your produce, give the potatoes a sniff. They should have a clean, earthy fragrance.
Keep your potatoes in a cool, dry, dark place in an open, perforated paper bag. While you may be tempted to store your potatoes in the refrigerator, the cold air can cause the starch in your potatoes to turn to sugar, leaving you with overly sweet, discolored potatoes. If your kitchen is too warm to properly store potatoes at room temperature, your refrigerator might be the best place to keep them, but be sure to let them sit out and come to room temperature before cooking to prevent discoloration. Never store potatoes with apples, as the ethylene gas from apples will spoil your spuds.
If you find a potato in your pantry that has sprouted eyes, don’t throw it away. Instead, start your own potato garden. Simply cut the potato into sections with one or two of the sprouted “eyes” in each section. Leave on a towel to dry overnight. The next day, you can plant the potato chunks in your garden, eyes facing up, in holes four inches deep and 12 inches apart. Water well, and as the plants begin to grow, keep adding more soil around the stems. In three to four months, the leaves should start to yellow, and three weeks after that your potatoes should be ready to harvest.
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If you have planted potatoes, watch for the leaves of the plants to stop flowering. When the foliage turns brown and dries out, cut it down and wait about 10 days to allow the potatoes to finish maturing. On a dry day, when the soil is not wet, carefully dig around the potatoes, being careful not to cut or bruise them. Place your harvested potatoes in a cool, dry area of your home for about two weeks to allow them to cure. This will help them stay fresh longer. After they have cured, store them in a perforated paper bag in a dark, cool area.