How To Tell If A Potato Has Gone Bad: Essential Cooking Tips

The potato is a good kitchen ingredient. When it comes to versatility, it is simply outstanding. You can create a lot of recipes with this vegetable. My personal favorites recipes are potato soup and sour cream mashed potato with paprika. These delicacies are a total winner in the kitchen!

But, of course, potatoes have a limited lifespan, just like any other food currently in your refrigerator or on your kitchen counter. Therefore, it is essential to know how to tell if a potato has gone bad, so that you won’t cook a rotten one by mistake.

The Lifespan Of A Potato

Apparently, a potato can last up to weeks in your pantry. But if you store it in your refrigerator, it will last for a maximum of three months. Of course, there are a number of factors that affect its shelf life. One of my chef friends told me that the way you store them can either prolong or shorten their lifespan.

Moreover, the current climate that you have can also affect this food. Humid conditions will hasten the metabolism of the potato and make it age faster than it would if you stored it in cold conditions.

The expiration date of a potato also depends on its variety. There are some that will last a long time while others go off quickly. Here are the details about some of them:

  • White Potatoes – 3 to 5 weeks in the pantry; 3 months in the refrigerator.
  • Gold Potatoes – 3 weeks in the pantry; 3 months in the refrigerator.
  • Red Potatoes – 3 weeks in the pantry; 3 months in the refrigerator.
  • Fingerlings – 3 weeks in the pantry; 3 months in the refrigerator.
  • French fries/ Sliced potatoes – 2 days in the refrigerator; 6 months in the freezer.
  • Cooked potatoes – 7 days in the refrigerator; 6 months in the freezer.
  • Baked potatoes – 7 days in the refrigerator; 6 months in the freezer.
  • Mashed – 4 days in the refrigerator; 8 months in the freezer.

As you can see, potatoes have a long lifespan if you store them in any cold compartment. On the other hand, you cannot expect any food ingredient to last if you don’t store it properly.

You should also pay attention to the sell by date, which is different from the expiry date. The sell by date indicates the last day that the potato should be sold. Therefore, you can still use the potatoes, even if they have already exceeded the selling date. If the package doesn’t have any date, then there is a good chance that it is a fresh potato.

How To Tell If A Potato Has Gone Bad

I always encourage my readers to constantly practice proper and safe food preparation to avoid any food-related illnesses. One of the skills that you should learn in the kitchen is to assess the quality of your ingredients. You do not want your family to eat something that is not fresh and healthy. Nobody wants a quick detour to the hospital.

When it comes to potatoes, there are several indicators that can tell you their age or quality. For example, the discoloration of the skin is a good sign that a potato is running out of time. In addition, noticeable growths throughout the skin’s surface will tell you that the potato is not edible anymore.

A fresh potato has a hard body composition. But their texture becomes soft when they are beginning to go bad. It is a sign that they are almost withering.

  • Take note that a potato is still considered to be alive even after you have picked it. Therefore, if you store it in a humid place, new sprouts will grow. Of course, you can cut them off so that you can use the potato. However, the overall quality and flavor of the potato will have gone already. This is the biggest reason why you need to store the potatoes in your refrigerator.
  • If you expose the potatoes to sunlight for a considerable amount of time, green parts will grow on their skin. You can still cut these parts off to make the potato edible once more.

You have to remember not to wash the potatoes before you store them. I have learned this the hard way when I cleaned my potatoes before putting them in the fridge. A few days later, I saw mold growing on the skin of the potatoes. That’s a waste of precious food, right?

In the case of mashed potatoes, you just have to make sure that the fluid coming out from the flesh is clear. If it is, you can still mix the potato with the rest of the ingredients. However, if the liquid is a white color, you need to throw the mashed potatoes away, as this fluid will turn the food sour, making it unsafe for consumption. 

Extending The Lifespan Of Potatoes

The best way to extend the lifespan of potatoes is to store them in a cold, dark area. Ideally, you should use a cellar, as they will keep for months in there. Just make sure that the internal temperature does not exceed 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Any higher than that and the potatoes will sprout and shrink. Always remember that the body of a potato is 80% water. Therefore, evaporation is likely to happen.

Extending The Lifespan Of Potatoes

On the flipside, do not put the potatoes in an extremely low temperature. This will metabolize the starch and convert it into sugar. As a result of this, the potato will get a sweet flavor. It will also make them darken quickly when you fry them. Fortunately, you can counteract this effect by taking them out of the fridge for seven days.


Potatoes will always remain a staple ingredient of many kitchen recipes. Apart from the health benefits that you get from potatoes, they can bring out new flavors in your dish. Therefore, it is pretty important that you take care of them so they are as fresh as possible when you prepare them.

How To Tell If A Potato Has Gone Bad

Learning how to tell if a potato has gone bad is an essential skill that you should learn, as they are so common, there is a good chance you will be preparing them on a daily basis. You are not a compulsive person if you take extra precautions when preparing them.

Let me remind you that proper kitchen hygiene and food preparation can make a huge difference in the food you prepare. It also means you know your family will be eating healthy, safe, and delicious cuisine.