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Preventing Rotten Potatoes

Do you remember that saying, “one bad apple ruins the bunch”?

I know the saying has different meanings, both in real apples and in other areas of life, but today we are going to apply the main principle to potatoes. Because it could also be said that one rotten potato can ruin the whole bag.

How many times have you brought home a bag of potatoes only to have most of them spoil before you get a chance to use them? I know I have had it happen more times than I care to remember.

There is a way though that you can prevent this from happening, or at least from happening as often.

All you do is go through your potatoes as soon as you get them home from the store. Look for any bad spots. If there is a potato that has a large bad spot, just throw it out.

But if the bad spot is small and the potato is salvageable, set the potato aside and away from the other potatoes and use that potato or potatoes first. This will keep the rot from spreading to the rest of the potatoes and ruining the whole bag.

What tips do you have for avoiding rotten potatoes?

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures


  1. Don’t leave them in the barely breathable plastic bag or in direct sunlight. I usually put mine in a wire basket in our microwave cart (instead of shelves they are baskets) and toss a floursack towel over them.

  2. My dad was a farmer and has always told me to take the potatoes out of the plastic bag that they are in and put them into cardboard box or something similar so that they can breathe. They don’t like the bag even with lots of holes in it, too much condensation

  3. Hi Lynn – I don’t have a tip (sorry) but rather a question … how & where do you store your potatoes?

    • @Michelle, I store mine in a cool dark place. For me that is usually the garage, unless it is summertime where the garage stays quite warm. I do not refrigerated them because it can change the texture of them. I hope that helps.

    • @Michelle, I should have added that I keep a hanging wire basket in my garage that I usually use for storing things like potatoes in.

  4. I just store mine in a wicker basket on the bottom shelf of my wine rack in my kitchen. I almost never have a potato go bad. I think it’s because we go through them so quickly.

  5. Believe it or not —but putting an apple in with the potatoes helps a lot!!!! I put one apple in with my potatoes and they no longer rot or sprout eyes!! This will work for quite a while since we don’t eat as many potatoes from the 5 lb bag as we use to. Hope this helps. Thanks.

  6. I used to store my potatoes and onions on the same bottom shelf (next to each other in plastic bins lined with brown paper grocery bags) in my pantry cupboard. Potatoes would start to sprout in a few weeks. When I learned that potatoes and onions shouldn’t be stored together, I moved the potatoes to the next shelf up. Now the potatoes (seem to) last forever!

  7. I do the same thing, Lynn. It’s easy to find the ones with bad spots because I immediately take my potatoes out of the bag and let them completely dry out. Then I put them in a bin in the dark side of my pantry. I had forgotten the tip about the apple that Mary shared (thanks, Mary!), but even if they sprout eyes, you can just remove eyes as soon as you see them and still use them. When I see mine going bad, it’s time to make a potato recipe that uses a lot of potatoes like Ultimate Oven Fries.

    Now if I could just get in the same habit for my onions. I tend to leave those in the bags, which are perfectly breathable, but if there’s a bad one in the bunch, it can ruin several, too.


  8. Believe it or not, I actually smell the bag of potatoes before I put it in my cart. Rotten potatoes smell horrible and I can tell right away if there is a bad one in the bag. I just put the mesh part of the bag near my nose and that’s all it takes. I haven’t had a rotten potato in years! I might look pretty funny to the other shoppers, but I think it’s worth it to save a bag of potatoes! :o)

  9. If you grow your own potatoes in the garden, you don’t need to harvest them in the fall and try to keep them fresh all winter. Just leave them in the ground and cover them with a thick layer of leaves so they don’t freeze. Then, harvest fresh, crisp potatoes as needed. This also works for carrots. We just harvested the last of the carrots in April when I tilled the garden to plant the new ones. We had a cold winter with a few sub-zero spells and they did just fine under the leaves.

    • @Ruth, where do you live? Your gardening tip is very interesting to me, but I’m wondering if it would work in central IL or not.

      • We live in Colorado Springs, CO. We are at 6500 feet elevation, so it is a cool climate. My garden is on the south side of the house, so it has full sun all winter. It is usually in the teens at night for about 3 months, but we do have colder spells with temps in the single digits or below zero. The advantage we have is that we warm up quite a bit in the day time – usually 30’s to 50’s in the winter months. I used about a 3 inch layer of leaves over the garden and the ground never froze even in sub-zero weather. I’m not sure what the winters are like where you live. It is probably totally different, but I suppose it is worth a try. Does your ground freeze solid under leaf layers?

        • @Ruth, Unfortunately, it sounds like your winters are milder than ours…I think our ground would probably freeze despite the leaf layers. 30 to 50 degrees in the daytime during winter sounds lovely, though! 🙂

  10. This is kind of weird but it is about rotten potatoes. I was away from home
    for a while and when I got back my potatoes (or maybe it was the onions) turned rotten and oozed onto the floor underneath. They were stored in a
    wire basket in a closet. I”m not sure how long the “ooze” had been there but when I cleaned it up the white linoleum floor underneath was beautifully shiny.
    I had been trying to get it clean like that for months-scrubbing,, scrubbing but I could not get all the dirt out of the pebbly top. NOW: I’m wondering
    what was in that rotton potato goo that made my floor sparkle. What kind of
    chemical? And what could I use that would be similar? any chemists out there?

  11. We put ours in burlap sacks and hang them from the rafters in our basement. They last a long time.

  12. I have a little tip also for decting rotten potatoes while you’re in the grocery store, all you have to do is give the bag a sniff if it smells grab another bag!

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