How to store potatoes?
Today, potatoes occupy a leading position in the world after cereals as a food crop. Potatoes are more than a thousand varieties adapted for cultivation in different climatic conditions, on different continents. However, for year-round use in food and propagation, the culture needs long-term storage. Properly prepared potatoes, in specially equipped storages, can be successfully stored for up to 8-10 months. In this article, we will tell you how to save your own or purchased potatoes.
- Potato harvesting time for winter storage
- Preparing potatoes for storage
- Potato storage conditions
- Types of Storage
- Types of containers for laying potatoes for storage
- Basic rules for storing potatoes
Potato harvesting time for winter storage
Growing potatoes on their farm, gardeners often dig up bushes with young potatoes or harvested early for daily use.
For winter storage, early collection does not guarantee its good preservation. Only well-ripened tubers should be stored, for which it is necessary to perform the following measures.
- A crop of potato tubers begins to form when the lower leaves of the tops are dried. The ripening period is approximately 3-4 weeks. During this period, the tops dry out and die off, and starch and other substances accumulate in the tubers, giving an individual taste and aroma to each variety.
- 1-2 weeks before harvesting, dry tops are mowed. Potatoes are left in the ground for ripening. The potato is covered with a thick coarse peel, forms dry eyes.
- They start digging potatoes in dry sunny weather so that the tubers have time to dry in the sun, and after processing - also for some time in the shade.
- In warmer regions, potatoes ripen completely in the ground, and in colder regions it is more practical to determine the time of digging by weather conditions.
- Early varieties of potatoes are harvested in July-early August, medium - from August 10-15 to the end of the month. Late - in the third decade of August - the first half of September. It’s impractical to store potatoes in the ground: autumn rains may begin. The tubers will gain a lot of moisture and reduce keeping quality in the winter. With prolonged drought, tubers can, on the contrary, lose moisture, becoming excessively soft.
Purchased potatoes for bookmark storage need to buy one variety. Better stored varieties with yellow flesh. Different varieties (in appearance, color of the pulp) are stored in different containers. Before filling the potatoes, it is necessary to dry the potatoes in air for 1-3 weeks, protecting them from sunlight so that they do not turn green. Further storage conditions are the same as independently grown.
Preparing potatoes for storage
To successfully save potatoes grown at home for the family until the next season, it is necessary to prepare the tubers for laying after harvesting.
- Dug potatoes sprinkled for several hours in the sun and let it dry. Ultraviolet rays will destroy part of the fungal-bacterial infection.
- Having shaken the tubers off the ground, they are carefully sorted and sorted into fractions: large for food purposes, medium for reproduction, small for poultry and livestock (if any). Sick potatoes are separated and destroyed, especially damaged by late blight, cancer and other fungal and bacterial diseases.
- Sorted potatoes are sprayed with antifungal biological products (phytosporin, bactofit, etc.), dried in the shade, fill the container prepared for storage and put into storage.
- To preserve a larger quantity of healthy potatoes, it is better to grow and store a wider variety of medium and late varieties. But during storage, they do not need to be mixed, since each variety is individual in its safety requirements.
Early varieties are not stored for a long time and already in November tubers begin to wrinkle, lose their taste and become unsuitable for use in food. Early varieties are stored only for propagation.
Potato storage conditions
To keep more potatoes healthy, the following requirements must be met.
In any type of storage, maintain the air temperature within +2 .. + 4 ° С. At this temperature, the potato is at rest - it does not form roots and does not freeze. Lower temperatures promote the conversion of starch into sugars, while higher temperatures trigger the root formation process.
The storage must have thermometers for measuring temperature, as well as the ability to take measures when it changes. If the temperature rises quickly, open the air, arrange ventilation.
Humidity in the room where potatoes are stored should not go beyond 70-85%. To determine, install a hygrometer in the room. An increase in humidity contributes to the appearance of molds. Indoor air is dried or ventilation is used.
The bottom of the potato storage should be covered with sand, preferably quartz, pebbles, rubble, other moisture absorbing material. It is impossible to cement the bottom of the cellar and other types of storages, cover with linoleum, smooth slate, batten and other similar materials, as this accumulates moisture, which contributes to the appearance of mold, other negative processes.
The storehouse must not have daylight and prolonged artificial lighting. Light contributes to the production of toxic solanine in potato tubers. The external manifestation of solanine production is the green or dark green color of the tuber. Such potatoes are not suitable for human consumption.
To save potatoes from winter pests and diseases, you need to carefully prepare the room and, accordingly, arrange the tubers in a convenient container.
- Isolate the repository from outside pests: mice, rats, slugs.
- Disinfect the premises from a fungal-bacterial infection (burning sulfur drafts or just lumps of sulfur on a metal tray or use other methods of disinfecting the room).
Types of Storage
If the area allows, cellars, cellars, underground, vegetable pits and other specialized storages for storing products in the winter are sure to be built. They are equipped with special shelves, pallets are installed on the floor so that containers with products from all sides have free air exchange.
It is more difficult to provide winter storage of vegetables to gardeners-city dwellers, whose cottage with a storage is far away. It is necessary to fit a loggia or a balcony for storage. In this case, storage in bags, nets and boxes, even covered with old fur coats, is not suitable. It is more practical to make wooden insulated boxes for storing potatoes and other vegetables. All self-made storages made of wood materials must be painted to protect against external moisture.
The simplest storage on the balcony, loggia, in the corridor can be independently made in the form of a box / chest with double walls, bottom and lid. Thermal container of a household or portable balcony cellar is more aesthetically pleasing in appearance and practical. You can buy or make them yourself.
All types of such temporary / permanent storages have double walls, a bottom and a lid. The empty space between the walls (4-6 cm) in the storages is filled with any kind of insulation (dry sawdust, fine dry shavings, polystyrene foam, etc.). Craftsmen can equip such storages (especially, not insulated) with electric heating with a temperature regulator.
If the family budget allows, you can purchase a soft portable household thermal container, or it is also called a balcony cellar. It consists of a tent fabric in the form of a double bag. Between the walls of the bags is a heater (usually a synthetic winterizer) and an electric temperature controller. The balcony cellar preserves products at ambient temperatures up to -40 ° C. In the spring, the cellar is collected, cleaned / washed and stored in a secluded dry place until the next winter.
Types of containers for laying potatoes for storage
Depending on the device of the potato storage container is prepared for the preservation of potatoes.
The most common are wooden crates. Loosely knocked down planks and an open top contribute to good air exchange. Boxes with 10-12 kg of potatoes are easy to carry and, if necessary, sort out the products.
Drawers are placed on shelves or shelves so that from the storage wall the empty space is at least 25-30 cm, from the floor to the bottom of the box / container about 15-20 cm and from the top of the potato pot to the ceiling at least 50-60 cm. Between drawers empty space is 10-15 cm.
It is easy to track the storage of potatoes in mesh bags, which, like boxes, are available for quick storage and, if necessary, for sorting frost-bitten, rotting, damaged and diseased tubers.
If rodents settle in storages during the winter season, then it is better to store products in double wire mesh containers with small cells, the bottom of which is raised above the floor. Through a single-layer net, rodents take out and gnaw the sides of potatoes that are adjacent to the net. Some owners store potatoes in metal barrels with small openings for air exchange, covered with a metal mesh on top.
Basic rules for storing potatoes
- Stored potatoes must be provided with ventilation.
- It is more practical to store potatoes to provide for the family in small containers (10-12-15 kg) installed on pallets or shelves, covering from above with any protective cover against freezing.
- Before laying potatoes for storage, it is imperative to thoroughly sort out and separate the diseased, damaged, and green tubers from the healthy ones.
- It is practical to spread a layer of beets on top of the stored potatoes. Absorbing moisture coming from the "breathing" potatoes, beets protect the latter from excess moisture, leading to the defeat of a fungal infection.
- A few apples put in a box with stored potatoes will slow its germination.
- When storing potatoes in bulk, the embankment should not exceed 1.5 m in height. Top you need to cover the potatoes with burlap or an old blanket, a blanket. This technique will reduce freezing during any weather cataclysm and will preserve the possibility of free air exchange. If the floor is very cold, you can use felt to warm it, covering the potato with moisture-absorbing material.
- With any type of winter storage, it is necessary to sort the tubers 2-3 times, removing the diseased and green.
- Early varieties of potatoes are usually used immediately. They are not subject to storage.
Early potatoes remaining after November are stored as planting stock. It is not used for food. Tubers shrink, lose moisture, become tasteless.
Potatoes for planting are stored in the same conditions as food.
When laying for storage of purchased potatoes, the following varieties can be recommended: Gatchinsky, Atlant, Scarlet, Seagull, Slavyanka, Zhuravinka, Dolphin, Kolobok, Tiras, Nevsky. With proper storage, they retain their palatability almost until a new crop of early potato varieties.
From early and early ripe varieties of potatoes up to 3 months are stored Hostess, Rocco, Aurora, Pyrrole. But, as a rule, early varieties are stored only as planting material.