Dear Home Ec 101,
I’ve always read that onions and potatoes should be stored well away from each other because if stored together they will cause each other to rot. But I frequently see kitchen renovation magazines that toot the joy of “basket drawers” stacked on top of each other, one filled with onions and one with potatoes. Have I been keeping my onions and potatoes in different cabinets for naught, or is it just that they shouldn’t be stored in the same basket?
Sprouting in Spokane
This is one old wives tale that has firmly taken root in our culture. The truth of the matter is that potatoes require cooler storage than onions. If you only have a few that will be used within a reasonable time frame, they can be stored together with no harm.
Potatoes should be stored in a cool environment. (45F – 50F) As this is a difficult temperature for many homeowners to achieve, I suggest only buying what you may use in a week. Storing potatoes in the refrigerator will cause the starches to convert to sugar. Additionally, potatoes that have been stored in too cool of an environment will darken while cooking. Too much warmth and humidity will cause potatoes to spoil rapidly. Keep in mind that potatoes turn green and bitter when exposed to light. If a potato has a small greenish spot, cut it away, but if it is mostly green throw it out. Buying large bags of potatoes is typically false economy, unless you are feeding a large family, or have more storage options than most households.
A handy trick to storing onions is to use an old pair of pantyhose. Place an onion in the toe of one leg, knot, and add another onion, repeat until the leg is full. Hang to store. This method allows air to circulate which helps prevent spoilage. Simply cut the hose as you need the onions.
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