Potatoes are a food staple around the world. They are not simple to harvest and store, however. After a gardener has gone through the effort of growing, harvesting and curing potatoes, they must store them properly to retain optimum taste, texture and nutrition. Boxes are a simple potato storage solution.
Boxes for potatoes may range in materials, and may simply be made from what a gardener has on hand in her house. As long it has adequate ventilation, darkness and temperature regulation, any box can work for potato storage. Cardboard (with a lid or top flaps that can be folded closed) is an excellent option. In many cases, a gardener may have a spare cardboard box lying around the house waiting for a greater gardening purpose.
Potatoes need to be in the dark if they are to be kept long-term. Keeping them in conditions where they are exposed to light can lead to greening. A potato's purpose, as far as a potato plant is concerned, is to spawn baby potato plants. Each of the eyes on a potato has the potential to become a potato plant. Greening is the natural process by which a potato plant begins to provide food to the impending potato seedlings. Potatoes that have green patches or that have turned green entirely are not safe to eat, due to the chemical changes a potato undergoes in this process. Greening potatoes may, in fact, cause food poisoning. Storing potatoes in opaque boxes prevents their exposure to light.
Storing potatoes above 40 degrees Fahrenheit can lead to sprouting, the step after greening. Potatoes that have sprouted are no longer safe to eat, as with greening potatoes. Potato sprouts are even more likely to cause food poisoning symptoms than green potatoes. Do not store potatoes in the refrigerator--the cold will turn starches in the potatoes to sugar. The resulting potatoes will have a mushy, mealy texture when cooked. Potatoes do not freeze well. Boxes of potatoes stored outside a refrigerator in a cool cellar, basement or garage will fare well over the winter.
Potatoes require some humidity to store well. Too much humidity, such as storage in plastic bags that do not have ventilation holes, can cause potatoes to rot. Leaving potatoes out on a counter is fine for a few days, but in time, those potatoes will dry out and become inedible. Keeping potatoes in a box with ventilation holes is a good solution.
Potatoes can become bruised, cut or otherwise damaged during or after harvesting. This invites diseases and rotting. If a potato is badly damaged, eat it as soon as possible--it will not keep well. If a potato develops symptoms of disease (black spots, general sickly appearance), discard it immediately so it does not infect other potatoes in storage.