How Long Are Potatoes Good For

You will know immediately looking at a potato if it has gone bad or not.
A potato will be bad if it has green skin and/or rotting flesh. Green potatoes are known as “sunburned” or “greening”. If the potato has been exposed to sunlight they will turn green. Solanine is the mild poison the potato produces when it turns green. Find out more about sunburn in my article how to hill up potatoes

How to safely store and eat potatoes

How Long Are Potatoes Good For

Potatoes can pose health risks if a person consumes them after storing them incorrectly. But if a person stores potatoes correctly, they can safely keep for a long time.

Potatoes are starchy tubers, which grow beneath the soil surface.

These vegetables are good sources of some important vitamins and minerals.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture , half a cup of raw, diced potato contains 42.8 milligrams (mg) of phosphorus, 319 mg of potassium, and 14.8 mg of vitamin C.

As with any other vegetables, potatoes only last a certain amount of time before they begin to go off.

This article will look at the shelf life of potatoes and detail signs of spoilage. It will also explore the health risks of eating gone-off potatoes and will list some potato storage tips.

a person holds two handfuls of potatoes in their palms

The shelf life of potatoes can vary depending on several factors, such as the temperature at which people keep them or whether they cooked the potatoes beforehand.

Generally speaking, a raw potato can last from a few weeks up to several months, depending upon the temperature at which a person stores it.

In the fridge, cooked potato can last for several days. In the freezer, it can last for up to a year.

The table below provides a more detailed breakdown of the shelf life of potatoes, based on whether they are raw or not and the temperature at which someone stores them.

Preparation and storage temperature Shelf life
Raw, stored at around 50°F/10°C 2–3 months
Raw, stored at around room temperature 1–2 weeks
Cooked and refrigerated 3–4 days
Cooked and frozen 10–12 months
Instant and uncooked Years

The cooking technique does not make a difference to the shelf life of cooked potato.

It is worth noting that a meal containing potato may not always keep as long as the potato itself if it contains ingredients with a shorter shelf life.

There are several ways to tell whether a potato is unsuitable for consumption.

A raw, whole potato should be firm to the touch. If a potato is mushy or soft, then a person should throw it out.

Although it is normal for raw potatoes to have some blemishes, a foul odor accompanying blemishing also suggests that the potato is unsafe to eat. It is also unsafe to eat moldy potatoes.

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Even when firm, odorless, and blemish-free, a raw potato may not be suitable for consumption.

For example, it is best not to eat a potato that has been growing sprouts for a long time.

A person can still eat a recently sprouted potato, but only after they remove the sprouts.

It is unsafe to eat cooked potatoes when they are growing visible mold or have a foul smell.

There are two main health risks associated with potatoes. The first is food poisoning from eating spoiled potatoes. The second is that potato sprouts can be toxic to humans.

Food poisoning describes when someone becomes infected by foodborne viruses, bacteria, parasites, or fungi.

Although the symptoms of food poisoning can vary with the nature of the infection, one study lists the following common symptoms of food poisoning:

People can also become unwell from eating unspoiled potato sprouts.

As one study notes, potato sprouts contain high concentrations of solanine, a toxic chemical. The same is true of potatoes that have been sprouting for a long time.

Symptoms of solanine poisoning are similar to the major symptoms of food poisoning:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal pain
  • headache
  • fever
  • slow pulse or breathing

Anybody with these symptoms should contact a doctor.

How Long Are Potatoes Good For: storing and eating

frshly dug potatoes about to be stored

The length of time potatoes last is mostly dependent on the temperature they are stored at. In normal home cupboard conditions the temperature will be roughly 60 fahrenheit / 15 degrees centigrade. At this temperature the potatoes will remain firm for up to two weeks. After this time they will start to soften or begin to grow buds.

Table of Contents

How long are potatoes good for

If potatoes are kept at a colder temperature they will last for much longer. Likewise if potatoes are kept in warmer temperatures then the shelf life will be reduced further. My article on how to store potatoes from the garden discusses this topic further

What is the best temperature to store potatoes

The best temperature to store potatoes is 45 fahrenheit /8 degrees centigrade. At this temperature you should expect the potatoes to last up to 6 months from harvest.

Although you can keep potatoes at less than 8 degrees. There are negative impacts on the potato flesh at these temperatures. The potato flesh will turn a dark/black color when fried in oil, for example making chips.

This colour change happens because the starch in the potato turns to sugar. This happens when the potato is exposed to low temperatures to provide quicker access to energy. It is not advisable to store your potatoes below 8 degrees.

How do you know if a potato has gone bad

You will know immediately looking at a potato if it has gone bad or not.
A potato will be bad if it has green skin and/or rotting flesh. Green potatoes are known as “sunburned” or “greening”. If the potato has been exposed to sunlight they will turn green. Solanine is the mild poison the potato produces when it turns green. Find out more about sunburn in my article how to hill up potatoes

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a white potato with green sunburn on it

Another type of bad potato is one with soft rot or blight. These rotten potatoes will have soft mushy flesh and be dark in colour. It will most likely have a very bad smell.

a white potato infected with blight

Can you get sick from eating old potatoes

Not necessarily. The age of the potato is not the issue, the condition of the potato is.

You can have a potato that is 4 months old and was healthy at harvest, stored well and is firm and in good condition. You could also have a potato which is only a week old infected with blight, soft rot or sun damage. All of which would make you sick, if you ate it. It is highly unlikely due to the bad appearance /smell it would have.

A potato that is kept in a cold store in good condition for 3 months. Once brought into a warm house it will be shrivelled up and grown buds 4 inches long. It is now not good to eat.

Can you eat old soft potatoes

This is a better question. Sometimes you can come across a potato which is soft and wrinkly but does not appear to have any diseases or sun damage. Usually these potatoes have begun to produce buds.

You can remove the buds and boil and eat the soft potato but they will not be enjoyable. The answer to this is yes you can eat them, but you shouldn’t. Usually if a potato is firm and has small buds it is fine to eat but if it is soft, wrinkled and has long buds, it is better not to eat it.

Should you keep potatoes in the fridge.

No. As a fridge is usually between 4 to 6 degrees centigrade this is below the recommended 8 degrees. They will keep in the fridge and you could use them for boiling but the flesh will be slightly damaged due to the low temperature and they will not be good for frying

How long do mashed potatoes last in the fridge

What’s the potatoes have been cooked and left to cool they can be stored in the fridge for 3 to 4 days, after this time they should be dumped.

Can you freeze potatoes

You cannot freeze a raw potato. If you do it will thaw out as mush and will be rotten. You can cook potatoes and freeze them for up to 6 months.

How long can you keep a bag of potatoes

Again this is a vague question – if it’s kept in normal room temperature they should last around two weeks. Potatoes keep better in a paper bag than a plastic bag. The plastic bag will encourage the potatoes to sweat. This dampness will speed up the rotting process.

The best place to keep a bag of potatoes is in a paper or cloth bag in a dark room. Ensure good ventilation at 8 degrees.

What happens if you eat a bad potato

It is unlikely that you would eat a bad potato. Unless it was a sunburned one which you missed when putting them into the pot. A rotten potato would never be put into the pot they are mushy and smell terrible.

You could mistakenly put a green potato into the pot. Once you would put a little of it into your mouth the bad taste would make you want to spit it out.

Iif you did eat the green potato you may feel a little unwell and perhaps you would be sick. It is not a major consequence to eat a little of a green potato. It is highly unlikely you would eat a full meal of green potatoes.

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Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for his studies of ageing, genetics and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics NAS of Ukraine. His scientific researches are printed by the most reputable international magazines. Some of his works are: Differences in the gut Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio across age groups in healthy Ukrainian population [BiomedCentral.com]; Mating status affects Drosophila lifespan, metabolism and antioxidant system [Science Direct]; Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Increases Lifespan, Stress Resistance, and Metabolism by Affecting Free Radical Processes in Drosophila [Frontiersin].
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