Potatoes, Potatoes, Potatoes

Image: Potatoes (taken from Wikipedia)

I had our potato harvest stored in bins of sand under the house, but I obviously wasn’t prepared for -9°C weather.

The sand actually worked pretty well at protecting many of the potatoes from freezing; however, all the potatoes that were touching the sides of the bins got frozen.  So, I guess it’s back to the drawing board for designing a “root cellar” in a climate where any hole dug in the ground becomes a pond in the winter.  Above ground storage is tricky, especially during cold spells.

So, I sorted through the potatoes, rescued the ones that were not yet frozen, and put them in the cabin’s cold room – not the best option, as I know they will sprout in there, but sprouted potatoes are better than frozen ones!  Now, what to do with several pails of frozen potatoes?  I knew they wouldn’t keep for long, and I also knew that we wouldn’t be able to eat them all before they started to rot.  So, I tried drying them.  I cut them into thin slices, steamed the slices so they wouldn’t go brown, and then dried them in the warmer over the wood stove.  I’m not sure how well they will re-hydrate, but I just couldn’t stand to see so much of our crop go to waste.

As an aside to my potato issues, I have been very impressed by the Russian Blue potatoes that we grew.  Even frozen, they have out-performed the Yukon Gold and Norland potatoes that we planted, in part due to their drought resistance during our long period of summer dryness.  They were hardy, produced large tubers, many of which didn’t actually freeze (might just have been luck) and haven’t shown any signs of core rot.

2 thoughts on “Potatoes, Potatoes, Potatoes”

  1. I’ve always wrapped my potatoes individually in newspaper and stored them in plastic trays that have an open lattice sides. I get them at the dollar store. They are pretty flimsy, but they have lasted for years of potato storage. I stack the potatoes two deep and sort them by size. I keep the smaller ones for last because they make good seed potatoes. I grow only Yukon Gold now, I gave up on Norland Red because they didn’t keep as well. I cover the trays with several layers of newspaper with a moist paper towel in the middle. That keeps them from drying out too much too quick. I keep the trays under the guest bed a few feet away from the cabin wall. It stays the coolest in that room some distance away from the woodstove heat. We leave in the winter for up to two weeks at a time, so the cabin can get below zero, but I don’t think it gets much more than -2 or so. I’ve never encountered frozen ones, but maybe our temperatures living over the water tempers things a bit. I did try sand the first year, but it was messy and heavy to keep on the float. I read about the newspaper in a homesteading book and it seems to work. Except this year the potatoes are sprouting quicker than usual. I check on them once in a while just snap them off. Usually I have nice firm potatoes to use until about February, then I let them go for planting. I’ll try some Russian Blue this coming season and check them out. Thanks. – Margy

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