Do All Potatoes Need To Be Cured Before Eating?

Eating potatoes right from your garden allows you to savor the fresh taste you won’t find in potatoes from the supermarket. However, if you plan to eat your potatoes later, curing them is necessary before storage. But do all potatoes need to be cured before eating?

All potatoes of any type need to be cured before storage if they are not being eaten immediately. Curing potatoes toughens the skin, heals cuts and blemishes, and helps eliminate bad potatoes that can spread rot. The curing process keeps the potatoes fresher and extends their storage time.

Curing potatoes is a pretty straightforward practice once you get the hang of it. This article will detail everything you need to know about potato curing: what it is, why it is important, how to do it, and if all potatoes need to be cured before eating.

What Is Potato Curing?

Planting your own potatoes means that you get to eat food you’ve grown with your own hands, fresh from the garden. And if you have a good amount, you’ll eat your own food for a while. In the case of potatoes, storing them properly is crucial if you want to enjoy them for months.

Like all other tubers, there are physiological processes that continue in potatoes even after they are harvested. These processes include respiration and transpiration, which cause the potatoes to lose water. If these processes are not forestalled, potatoes will shrink and eventually die

Curing helps you store potatoes without losing their freshness, so you don’t waste your hard-earned harvest.

Potato curing is the process of removing remnant dirt from harvested potatoes and drying them in aerated conditions at 45°-60°F (7°-15°C) and 85-95% humidity levels for a fortnight. 

Potato curing should be done in a dry, enclosed space. The space should have ventilation to facilitate air circulation and keep away direct light. It should also be safe from rodents and pests, as these can facilitate potato damage.

In the broad sense, potato curing commences at harvest time and entails removing your potatoes when the soil is completely dry. Potatoes come out clean or with minimal dirt when harvested from completely dry soil. Clean potatoes are easier to cure and store safely, as the curing process will likely proceed without issues, and your storage area will remain dirt free. 

How Does Curing Help Preserve Potatoes 

Broadly, potatoes are cured to prolong their storage time. Here’s how the curing process improves the longevity of your potatoes. 

  • Curing potatoes toughens their skin. Tougher potato skin creates the conditions for them to last for months after harvest. You can tell if potatoes have tough skin if it sticks firmly and is hard to peel off with your thumb.
  • The process heals blemishes and cuts. Potatoes with scars and cuts spoil quickly. If the damaged spots are healed during curing, potatoes will last longer in storage.
  • Curing potatoes removes unwanted moisture. Moisture is an enemy of long-term tuber storage. Curing would remove unnecessary moisture, especially if the potatoes were harvested when the soil was still wet.
  • It reduces the accumulation of ethylene gas during storage. At the correct levels, the naturally-occurring plant regulator inhibits the growth of sprouts in potatoes. However, unacceptable ethylene levels reduce the sugars in potatoes, which shortens storage time.
  • Curing helps you identify damaged potatoes that do not heal. These potatoes can then be removed before storage, preventing them from spreading rot to the rest of the harvest.
  • Curing potatoes leave them clean. Soil-free potatoes remain fresher and don’t mess up your storage space.
  • Curing potatoes lets you sort them by variety and size. Larger potatoes are best for French fries, while smaller ones are good for roasted potatoes. Sorting by variety helps you know which ones to use first, as some types store longer than others. For example, red potatoes last less in storage than the white and yellow varieties. Also, russets have thicker skin and last longer in storage than thin-skinned varieties.
  • If you cure potatoes before storage, the process will preserve phenolic compounds. Phenolic compounds are bioactive compounds in vegetables. In potatoes, these compounds have been associated with health benefits due to their antioxidative properties. A study found that the action of postharvest potato curing on phenolic compounds positively contributed to the control of browning in freshly cut potatoes. 

Benefits of Potato Curing and Storage

If you have a significant potato harvest from your garden, you won’t be able to consume your potatoes in a week or two. As such, curing the tubers for storage is a necessary step in the storage process.

Good storage preserves potato quality. Poor storage comes with problems like skinning (skin breakage), skin browning, rot, and shriveling (weight loss). In contrast, potatoes stored well tend to last much longer on the shelf and maintain a great deal of their flavor and nutritional value

Curing creates the right conditions for long-term potato preservation. These conditions include tougher potato skin, the elimination of bad tubers, and the removal of unnecessary moisture. 

A postharvest potato curing and storage study found that proper potato curing with the right temperature and humidity had significant benefits. Besides, more extended curing periods (14 days compared to 7 days) had better results. 

  • Lower potato rot.
  • Lower potato skin browning.
  • Less potato shriveling.
  • Lower percentage weight loss.
  • Lower incidence of storage-related diseases. 
  • Lower nutrient loss. 

These benefits should persuade any potato grower to cure potatoes before storage to slow down their deterioration. 

How To Cure Potatoes

As mentioned, curing potatoes begins while the tubers are still in the garden. The preharvest aspect of potato curing involves letting the stalks dry completely. The potatoes are then left in the soil for a week or two. Doing so will enhance skin hardening even before the actual curing process. 

In addition, harvesting potatoes should be done when the ground is completely dry. Harvesting when the soil is dry limits the amount of dirt stuck to the potatoes and leaves out unnecessary moisture from your potatoes.

On harvesting day, leaving the potatoes in the sun for a short while will initiate the drying process. However, leave them under the sun for a short time.  

Too much direct sunlight turns potatoes green. A neurotoxin known as solanine is responsible for the green color of potatoes that are left out in the sun for too long. Solanine is poisonous and can even be fatal if consumed in large amounts.

Once harvested, follow these steps to cure your potatoes:

1. Brush Off Any Excess Soil on Potatoes

Potatoes grown on sandy and loam soils may not require brushing, as the soil easily falls off the tuber. Those harvested from clay soils require a bit more work.

Although you will find advice directing you to wash off sticky clay soil from harvested potatoes, you should know that washing your potatoes before storage facilitates spoilage. Rubbing them hard will rub away part of the skin or cause cuts, spoiling potatoes.

2. Set the Potatoes for Curing in a Conducive Environment

Place the potatoes in crates, slatted wood boxes, or a harvest rack so that air will pass freely through the tubers during the curing period.

Potato curing temperatures should range between 45° and 60° Fahrenheit (7.22° and 15.56° C). The humidity level should be around 85% to 95%. Leave the potatoes to cure for two weeks. During this time, any bruises on the tuber will heal, and the skin will toughen.

3. Sort the Potatoes

When the two-week curing period is over, it will be easier to notice any damaged potatoes. Remove any potatoes that feel soft at a slight push with the finger. Do the same with the potatoes that show signs of rot and those that are wilted

The remaining healthy potatoes are ready for long-term storage at this point.

4. Store the Cured Potatoes

Arrange the cured potatoes on shelves in a dark location in your house. Alternatively, put them in crates, baskets, or cardboard boxes with aeration. 

Do not over pile the potatoes in these containers, as this can facilitate rot. Brown bags can also be used, but not plastic bags because they don’t allow air circulation through the tubers.

Basements, garages, and barns work well for potato storage. Ensure your potatoes are not exposed to light. They should also be stored away from other fruits and vegetables to control ethylene levels.

When storing your cured potatoes, keep the storage temperatures at 45°-50°F (7°-10°C) and the humidity at around 90%

Lower temperatures can chill the potatoes and cause a sugary taste. Higher temperatures and exposure to light will make the potatoes grow sprouts.

Final Thoughts

Harvested potatoes should be cured to prolong their storage life. Curing entails removing any dirt left on the potatoes before leaving them under the right temperature and humidity levels to dry and toughen the skin for two weeks. 

Curing is a must-do before storage if you want your homegrown potatoes to remain fresh for months.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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