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How to make potatoes last longer

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What is the issue?
Potatoes are an ideal fresh food for long passages. However, as temperatures increase and when they are sourced in hot climates, their longevity rapidly decreases.

Why address this?
Fresh vegetables are a premium food on long passages and potatoes are not only one of the longest-lasting veggies on a boat, they are a highly versatile and convenient meal item. Maximising their ability to stay fresh and minimising wastage is very important for the pleasure, economics and health of the long-distance sailor.

How to address this?
Potatoes are an excellent fresh food that with due care and attention can easily last a long ocean passage, and up to a couple of months in the best of circumstances. They do need a little attention to get the best out of them but it is well worthwhile. Here is a list of best practices that we developed during our circumnavigation:

  • • Stock Up late: Leave the potato purchase until the last shopping run so they have the best start.

  • • Select the best: Pick them by hand at the store if you can. Stay away from anything that has been refrigerated and only choose potatoes that are at their best and have no bruises. Don't take anything that looks remotely abused as it will not last and will only set off the rest.

  • • Remove packaging: Remove all plastic bags immediately as they only serve to trap humidity and carry insects aboard.

  • • Store them far away from onions: Onions are the other great long life vegetable that can magically transform cruising dishes and as they require the same type of storage conditions they are often stored with potatoes. But this is a fatal mistake as onions and potatoes can release moisture and gases and the chemical reactions of these will speed the spoilage of both.

  • • Keep them cool, dark and dry: Store the potatoes in the coolest driest possible part of the vessel and screen them from any light. Ideally the storage area or the container, such as a wire basket, should have no sharp pressure points that can cause bruising and precipitate rot.

  • • Take them all out occasionally: Remove them from their storage area a couple of times a week and gently spill them out onto the cockpit floor. Inspect them individually for signs of degradation and pick off any buds that have appeared. Then select the potatoes that are the most tired looking for the next couple of days meals, and gently return the remainder to storage.

Continue this process throughout the voyage and you will find you will have great potatoes that will last surprisingly long. We stored ours under a settee locker that was ventilated. Being below the waterlines it was one of the coolest places aboard our vessel as well as being dark and dry.

A little extra attention paid to the potatoes will not incur any additional cost, but will maximise a vessel's key fresh food stock and minimise wastage.

With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession.
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