Harvesting and Storing Potatoes from "Kitchen Garden Seeds"
Though Potatoes are not considered true root crops like Carrots or Beets, they are harvested and stored in much the same way. Potatoes may be dug at anytime after the plant's foliage has died back and before a hard frost. Dig gently to avoid piercing or bruising the tubers, and move them immediately to a cool (50° to 60°F), dark (so they don't turn green), well-ventilated place. Lay the Potatoes out on newspaper in a single layer and leave them to "cure" for two weeks. This will toughen up their thin skins and extend their storage life. After two weeks or so, rub off any large clumps of dirt (Potatoes should never be washed before storage) and cull any tubers that are blemished or were nicked during harvest (these should be eaten straight away and not stored).
By weight, Potatoes are about 80% water, so they should be stored under humid conditions. Dark-colored, perforated plastic bags will help retain moisture~ just make sure there are lots of holes for good air circulation. For large quantities, nestle your spuds into ventilated plastic bins, bushel baskets or wax-lined cardboard boxes with perforated sides. Completely cover the Potatoes with newspaper or cardboard to eliminate any light. Even a little light will cause Potatoes to turn green, and render them inedible.
The ideal storage temperature for Potatoes is a chilly 40°F, though they will usually keep well for several months at 50°F. If winter-long storage is your goal, it's best to grow varieties that are known to be good keepers, such as Bintje Dutch, Yellow Finn, or Red Ruby Potatoes.
Need ideas on how to use your Potato stash in some new ways? Try our Cream of Potato-Leek Soup, Crabby Corn Chowder, Union Square Cafe's Creamy Potato-Gruyere Gratin or Hopkins Inn Rosti Potatoes. We also adore Ina Garten's Potato-Fennel Gratin that you can get at www.foodnetwork.com~it is one of the best Potato recipes ever.
Give you some ideas for new recipes. ENJOY....till next time, this is Becky Litterer from Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty, Iowa