Whole potatoes can be stored for months at a time if they are kept in a cool and dry place, but they are also susceptible to mold and other problems that can shorten their shelf life. You can process potatoes using a pressure canner and keep them for an much longer period of time. Take a look at the process below, and see how this method can provide you with some redundancy while enhancing your stockpile at the same time.
A 20lb sack of potatoes should yield about 7 quart jars when finished. The first step is to rinse the potatoes and peel them. Cut them into 1-2 inch wedges, or you can also process small potatoes whole. Cutting them into smaller pieces will allow you to get more product into each jar while also making them easier to process and store. Place the pieces into a stockpot with cool water after cutting to keep them from turning brown.
The next step is to blanch the potatoes by placing the pot over high heat and bringing the water to a boil. Make sure that you have enough water to cover all of the potatoes. Let them boil for 2 minutes before removing from heat. If you are using thicker pieces or small potatoes, you may need to blanch them for between 5-10 minutes to ensure they’re slightly cooked through. We’re not trying to fully-cook the potatoes, rather just heat them to the core, so use your best judgment as to how long to blanch them.
At the same time, you want to be warming your canning jars and lid assemblies. You can also start preparing the pressure canner so that you can fill the jars and being processing the potatoes after they’ve been blanched in order to save some time.
Once the jars and potatoes are ready, fill them with the potatoes until an inch of headspace remains. Add a teaspoon of canning salt and fill each jar with the water you used to blanch the potatoes. If you need more water, heat it first so that the temperature will be close to what is already inside each jar. Give each jar a gentle shake to help the potatoes settle and remove any pockets of air. Add more water if necessary until an inch of headspace remains and all of the potato pieces are completely submerged.
Processing the Potatoes
Wipe down the rims on each jar and attach the lid assemblies, screwing them on so they are snug. Place the jars in the pressure canner and make sure that the water level is adequate based on the type of canner you are using. Attach the lid but don’t close the vent holes. Bring up the heat until steam starts to vent from the holes and let this process continue for 10 minutes before closing the vent holes and attaching the gauge. Once the canner has been pressurized, start the timer and process for 40 minutes, adjusting for altitude. If you are using pint jars, process the potatoes for 35 minutes, adjusting for altitude.
When finished, remove the canner from heat and let it depressurize before removing the lid. Take out the jars and place on the counter and let them cool until reaching room temperature. Inspect each jar for any defects in the seal or damage before labeling, dating and storing the finished product in a cool and dark place.
There are varying reports out there regarding shelf life. If the potatoes are stored properly and under ideal conditions, they can be good for as long as a few years. However, temperature and moisture fluctuations in your storage area can reduce shelf life to a few months. Try and rotate out supplies within six months to ensure that you are getting the freshest product possible, and doing so can also help to keep waste to a minimum as well. In any case, this is a great way to keep potatoes for the long term, and they make the perfect compliment to your fresh, whole potatoes that are kept in dry storage.
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