These days, potatoes are easily available at most retail outlets in the packaged form, inside a plastic bag. But it is always better to buy them individually from a bulk display so that that you can properly inspect them for any signs of decay or damage. Moreover, since the plastic bags are not perforated, they can cause a build-up of moisture, which negatively affects the potatoes.
- While buying potatoes, choose the ones that have smooth and firm skin without eyes or discoloration.
- Avoid the potatoes that have wrinkled or wilted skins, soft dark areas, sprouts, cuts, bruises and green tinges.
- Green-tinged potatoes should particularly be avoided as they contain toxic alkaloids such as solanine formed due to exposure to light.
- This alkaloid not only imparts an undesirable taste but also causes a host of health problems such as circulatory and respiratory depression, diarrhea, and headaches.
- Potatoes with sprouts should also be avoided as they are old.
- If you are buying potatoes in a bag, check properly to discard any rotten potato as it can spoil the others.
- Often, stores offer cleaned potatoes that are a bit costlier. However, these should be avoided as their protective coat has been removed by washing, making them more vulnerable to bacteria.
- New potatoes should be preferred for boiling and salads as they have a thinner skin and are firmer.
Storing the potatoes properly is also equally important.
As far as storage is concerned, potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark, dry and properly ventilated place at a temperature of 40o F to 45o F. Higher temperatures or even room temperature will cause them to sprout and dehydrate.
Root cellars are quite appropriate for providing this type of environment.
Alternatively, potatoes can also be stored in a cool, dark closet or basement.
They should not be exposed to sunlight as light triggers the formation of toxic solanine.
They should not be refrigerated as this will cause their starch to get converted into sugar, giving them a sweet taste.
Moreover, they should not be kept near onions because the gases they emit will cause both the vegetables to go bad.
Potatoes should be kept in a burlap or paper bag.
Mature potatoes have a shelf life of 2 months. They should be frequently checked to discard the sprouted or shriveled ones as they might adversely affect the quality of others.
New potatoes, being more perishable, can be stored up to a week.
Cooked potatoes can be refrigerated for several days, but it is advisable not to freeze them as they tend to become watery after reheating.
Potato contains nearly 80% water, which separates from the starch, making the reheated potato dish watery.