Tips To Keep Potatoes in Tip-Top Shape: Buying, Storing, Preparing and Saving Leftovers

We enjoyed a great Thanksgiving and hope you did, too. Now, the holiday season is upon us!

Because so many holiday meals include potatoes—and because our fresh cranberries got all banged up in the bottom of the grocery bag then sticky in the fridge—we thought this might be a great time to go over Storing Spuds, 101.

To keep your spuds in tip-top shape for holiday feasts, just follow these easy-peasy guidelines.

Shopping for Potatoes

Match your potato to cooking method. Are you baking? Buy russet or sweet potatoes. Grilling? Go for whites or yellows. Making a salad? Reds or blues are a great bet.

No matter what kind of potato you plan to take home, select those that are clean, smooth, firm-textured and free from cuts, bruises or discoloration.

Storing for Freshness

Potatoes are happiest in a well-ventilated, sort of chilly place with temps between 45°F and 55°F.

Skip the fridge if you can: colder temperatures convert the starch in potatoes to sugar, resulting in a sweeter taste and maybe some discoloration when cooked.

If you do refrigerate your potatoes, let your spud treasure slowly warm to room temp before cooking. This can help reduce discoloration.

Please don’t stash your potatoes some place that gets HOT: for example, under the sink or next to some huge appliance. And remember: light is enemy number one for potatoes. Store them somewhere dark to keep them fresher longer.

Extend shelf life with perforated plastic bags or paper bags. And, like any fresh produce, wait to wash potatoes until you’re ready to eat ‘em. Prewashing just gets them all damp, which can speed spoilage.

Sprouting or Green Potatoes

A little green is no big whoop—just cut it away before cooking your potato.

Potatoes turn green due to a build-up of a chemical called Solanine. It’s a natural reaction to too much light. Solanine tastes bitter, and if eaten in large quantity can make you sick.

Sprouts just mean your potato is ready to grow. It’s not the end of the world, either. Just cut the area away before cooking. And next time try storing your spuds in a cool, dry, dark location that is well ventilated.

Preparing Potatoes

Gently scrub your spuds with a vegetable brush under cool running water. (Unless they’re PotatOHs, in which case we did that for you, already!).

Cook and eat ‘em with their skin on: it’s more nutritious. But if you must peel, don’t go too deep. Lots of the nutrients are close to the skin.

Sometimes potatoes that are cut and uncooked can oxidize and then look pinkish or brownish. This should not stop your big potato plans because the discoloration should disappear with cooking. You can preserve the color of cut potatoes by keeping them in cold water with a little lemon juice or vinegar. But, to retain vitamins, don’t soak ‘em more than 2 hours.

Saving Leftovers

Wait, what leftovers?

If you ever do have leftover potatoes, that’s probably a record or something. And, so, like with any other leftover foods, pop them in the fridge within two hours of serving to prevent food-borne illnesses.

Then, don’t let them sit there for weeks. Eat them within a few days or toss them out.

Last, but not least, when you freeze potatoes at home, you mess with their structure. They’re 80 percent water and will become watery when reheated.

That about covers it. But if you have more pressing potato questions, post them below. We’ll get back to you ASAP.

  

Thanksgiving With Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes

Browned Butter Smashed Potatoes with Butternut Squash

 

Although it wasn’t a national holiday until 1863, Thanksgiving has been happening for nearly 400 years.

You probably still remember what you learned in grade school about that first celebration: it was held in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621. A three-day party (feast plus games) to celebrate the fall harvest, it was enjoyed by about 50 Pilgrims and 90 or so members of the Wampanoag tribe.

What was on the menu? They probably ate venison, maybe some turkey, for sure some other birds. We know there was seafood, corn and pumpkins. But probably no pies or sweets—sugar was scarce. And no potatoes.

What!?

Around here, it’s not Thanksgiving without at least a 1/2 pound of mashed potatoes for every man, woman and child. Maybe, just maybe, you could get by with 1/3 of a pound, if you had some sweet potatoes—which we always do—and lots of other sides. But then again, mashed potatoes and turkey gravy are about the most delicious combination in the whole world.

So no matter how many sides we make, we serve potatoes. And we like to keep some of the dishes classic, using the same tried and true recipe every year. But we also do a little experimenting, too. Last year we had fried Brussels sprout leaves and they were awesome! This year, we’re trying a new recipe for sweet potato casserole.

So below are two classic recipes for potatoes and sweet potatoes and two more experimental but equally delicious takes. Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy your long weekend!

Classic Thanksgiving Mashed Potatoes

These are the mashed potatoes we all remember eating as a child. Classic, creamy and delicious, you can’t go wrong with this recipe. We make these at the last minute to be sure they’re hot. And before we bring them to the table, we like to sprinkle a little paprika on the top because it looks really pretty. Enjoy!

Brown Butter Smashed Potatoes with Butternut Squash

This is a great recipe to try if you’re not already making a side of squash. It’s kind of two sides in one. We love the beautiful color and awesome fall flavor of the squash and sage. Like everything else in the world, it tastes even better with a little gravy. Try it out!

Sweet Potatoes With Maple Syrup


This recipe roasts the sweet potatoes before mashing them, bringing out a wonderfully rich taste and smooth texture. Feel free to add more or less maple syrup. If you have it, grind your nutmeg with a rasp yourself. It makes a difference in the flavor. Dig in.

Spiced Sweet Potato Gratin

Completely delicious AND gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan, this recipe was originally posted by Alice Currah on her blog, Savory Sweet Life. The recipe is a little less sweet than traditional sweet potato casserole, adding in some savory and salty tones to replace it. Not only does it sound incredible, we think it looks beautiful, too. We’re going for it this year, for sure.

Winners of the November Thanksgiving Giveaway

Thanksgiving Giveaway Winners

On Wednesday we asked you to share a potato dish you plan to serve at Thanksgiving, and to tell us something you are thankful for this year. Want to know what we’re thankful for? That over 85 of you shared your potato dishes and shared many wonderful reasons for which you are giving thanks!

We truly appreciate that you took time to comment and share your love of potatoes and heartwarming stories with us. We’re lucky to have such amazing and thoughtful fans!

Now the time has come to announce the winners! We picked 6 entries, and if you see your name and comment below, you’ve won!

 

Bella: We roast our white and sweet potatoes in the pan with the turkey! Delicious! I am so grateful for my family because it has been a very difficult few years! And very thankful for Lily, who just turned a year old!

Stephanie Mccrary: We will have glazed sweet potatoes, sweet potato pie, and the most popular dish, mashed potatoes from scratch. I am just so thankful to live in a country, where I can freely celebrate and give thanks. Thanks to our troops!

Joanne Snyder: We will be having both mashed potatoes and candied sweet potatoes! 
I am thankful for my health, my husband Wes and our wonderful children their families, and for our friends. I am also thankful for our military serving overseas. We have a grand daughter and nephew in the US Air Force, 4 grandsons in the Army, and a son-in-law and another grand daughter in The National Guard. 
We are a truly blessed family!

Amy Bledsoe: Potatoes Romanoff will be on our table this year. I love this dish as it can be eaten hot or cold. I am thankful for my son and my mom. Without them I have no clue where I would be in my life. They have been my rock during multiple health problems and surgeries.

Donna: Our potato dishes for Thanksgiving will be mashed potatoes and candied yams (I live in the deep south where sweet potatoes are fresh and plentiful right now). These side dishes really add so much to the entire Thanksgiving meal! I am very thankful for my family, they mean so much to me! I am also thankful for a very inactive 2012 hurricane season. Seven years ago our home was flooded by Hurricane Rita and then five years ago we flooded again for Hurricane Ike. So, uneventful hurricane seasons on the Louisiana gulf coast make me very, very happy! Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

L. Friedman: We will have a sweet “PotatOH” with just some black pepper and a little buter or olive oil. We are grateful for this wonderful year, which included the 1st granddaughter’s arrival.

 

Winners will be receiving a variety pack of Express Bake PotatOHs shipped right to their doorstep. Check your inbox — we’ll be contacting you to arrange shipping faster than it takes for a PotatOH to cook in the microwave!

Congratulations to the winners, thanks to everyone who participated, and keep an eye out for our next giveaway – you could win some of our delicious microwave potatoes! Have a very happy Thanksgiving!

November Giveaway: Win Free PotatOHs for Thanksgiving Recipes!

Thanksgiving Giveaway

Fall is going so fast!

Last weekend, we heard our first Christmas song of the season. Wolf Creek, our amazing local ski resort, is scheduled to open today. Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK! And best of all, because we are so thankful for our fans, we’re giving away FREE Express Bake PotatOHs! Yes!

This week, six lucky winners will receive a FREE variety pack of PotatOHs (2 russets2 sweet potatoes, and tray packs of fingerlinggold and ruby Jubileez) just for sharing some thoughts on potatoes and life.

Entering Is Simple!

To enter, just leave a comment on this post telling us (1) about a Thanksgiving potato dish that will be on your table and (2) one thing you’re thankful for this year. Also, make sure to include your email address in the form so we can contact you.

We love all of our fans, but we ship fresh potatoes and like to get them to your doorstep quick, so only potato lovers in the U.S. are eligible. Winners will be announced this Friday, November 16, so check our blog and Facebook page for updates!

We’ll Start Things Off:

We always have mashed potatoes AND potatoes au gratin because they’re both awesome and choosing one over the other just wouldn’t be right. And, we’re thankful to live in such a beautiful place and (fingers crossed) for all the snow we’ll be getting this year. It’s good for the soil and it’s GREAT for skiing. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

I Yam What I Yam, Which Is Not A Sweet Potato

Yam vs Sweet Potato

There’s no, “You say poh-taay-toe and I say poh-taaah-toe,” about the yam versus sweet potato relationship. Because yams and sweet potatoes aren’t two different terms for the same thing, they’re two different vegetables.

Although they look and taste maybe somewhat kinda similar, the fact is, they’re not even closely related.

The Truth You’ve Been Waiting For

Yes, it’s true that yams and sweet potatoes are two totally different things. BUT, it’s also true that in the U.S., most grocery stores sell the dark orange variety of sweet potatoes as “yams.” Or, even more confusing, “sweet potato yams.” They do this not to fool you, but to help distinguish the darker orange variety of sweet potato from those lighter in color.

Read below to tell the difference between yams and sweet potatoes the next time you’re shopping in your local grocery store.

The Yam

A member of the Dioscoreae family, there are over 200 varieties of yams. Depending on the variety, the flesh may be some shade of white, ivory, yellow or purple. The skin is thick, rough and scaley and may be white, pink or brownish-black in color.

Yams taste pretty earthy, with minimal or no sweetness. The texture is starchy and slippery when raw. Cooked, they can be creamy or firm, depending upon the variety.

The Sweet Potato

A member of the Convolvulaceae family, we recently read there are more than six thousand varieties of sweet potatoes, when you include wild, farmer-grown and breeding lines. Depending on the variety, the flesh can be almost any shade of white, orange, yellow-orange, purple or red. The skin is usually thinner than a real “yam,” and may be some shade of creamy white, yellow-orange, tan, reddish-purple or red.

Depending on the color of the flesh, sweet potatoes range from mild to rich, the darker the flesh, the more intense the flavor. The darker varieties also have a denser, creamier texture when cooked.

Below are the nutritional values for 1 cup of raw, unprepared sweet potatoes and yams.

  Yam Sweet Potato
Calories 117 114
Total Fat 0 0
Cholesterol 0 0
Sodium 13mg 73mg
Total Carbohydrate 42g 27g
Dietary Fiber 6g 4g
Sugars 1g 6g
Protein 2g 2g
Summary Yams are very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. They are also a good source of fiber, potassium and manganese and a very good source of Vitamin C. Sweet potatoes are very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. They are also a good source of fiber, vitamin B6, potassium and manganese and a very good source of Vitamin A.

If you’re shopping for sweet potatoes, the easiest way to find them is to look for Sweet PotatOHs. You’ll find them in the potato section in produce, and with a green and purple label, you can’t miss them!