Over the next few days I will be doing blog posts on growing, dehydrating and rehydrating potatoes. For those who are wondering why on earth someone would go to the trouble to dehydrate potatoes instead of going to the store and buying potatoes, I’ll share my thoughts. These are only my thoughts . . nothing more!
I am not an alarmist. I have eaten potatoes from the grocery store for . . let’s say a very long time. Potatoes are one of my very favorite foods so I’ve consumed plenty of them. I’m still here and fairly healthy as far as I know so I’m not anti-grocery store potatoes. I’m sure I’ll buy them again at some point in my future.
Why do I grow potatoes? First, they’re very easy to grow. The best news is . . they grow underground and until the grasshoppers have eaten the entire tops of the potatoes, my crop isn’t affected too badly. The grasshoppers have now eaten the entire tops of my plants!
Second, I am a little concerned about anything that grows completely in the dirt – potatoes, sweet potatoes, radishes, beets, etc. Anything that has been used on the ground as far as chemicals or pesticides, or even suppose some old building fell or burned and was just buried on a site, and later root crops were raised there, will those crops absorb anything from what was once there? I don’t know.
This article discusses some of the fruits and vegetables that might be more beneficial to buy organic . . simply because most folks can’t afford to buy all organic so they’re giving some recommendations on which ones to place at the top of the organic list.
Most everything we grow at home tastes different from what we buy. Keep in mind that we don’t have great farmers’ markets around here and everything we’re able to get comes from Kroger or Wal-Mart so my comparisons are quite different from what you may be able to get in your area. Some of the things we grow, are great but not terribly different from what we get in the stores. When I’m able to get nice, big, fresh bell peppers in the stores, I wouldn’t say my homegrown taste a whole lot different. I don’t find a huge difference in the yellow squash I grow compared to the yellow squash I find in the stores when it’s fresh.
Potatoes — they’re one of those things that we say “WOW!” when we eat our first few home grown potatoes.
If you aren’t able to grow potatoes underground in your area, they can be grown above ground in containers.
The photo above is how I grew potatoes in Missouri. The wooden boxes were shipping crates and the wood was untreated and didn’t last but through a couple of years of growing potatoes. We called them “the potato coffins”. The wire on top and the boards with nails . . deer deterrent! (Notice there’s even a water hose in my photo from MO.)
This post explains how we grew the potatoes in the boxes. Growing potatoes above the ground in containers is an excellent way to grow them. I’ve heard of folks doing it by stacking up old tires to make a column. I wouldn’t use old tires but that’s just me! Anything that has chemicals that may leach out into your soil and be absorbed by your potatoes, I would avoid.
This year I planted a lot of potatoes and they produced a lot of potatoes. In order to keep them through the year, I have to preserve them somehow. Ideally, I’d have a root cellar. I do not. We are having an underground storm shelter installed but not in time for this year’s potato crop.
Freezing potatoes is a terrible way to put them up. I have not had good luck freezing potatoes.
Canning them is an option. I still have some that were canned from last year and they’re still good. The best ones for canning are the smaller ones that don’t have to be cut up. Starch escapes from the cut potatoes and they aren’t nearly as good. Also, the potatoes are put up in water so there’s only so much that can be done with them. They make good casseroles and good potato salads though. I find that the texture and taste changes a bit with canned potatoes. They’re good but they’re obviously not fresh.
Dehydrating is a bit more trouble with potatoes than with most items because they have to be cooked ahead of time but I find that dehydrated potatoes, when rehydrated and cooked, taste more like fresh than do any other “stored” potatoes. Keep in mind that I have never had potatoes that were stored for months in a root cellar. I can imagine that they taste pretty close to fresh too.
Somewhere I read that dehydrated potatoes will last 30 years. I’m not buying it but I can’t say that I’ve kept any that long to see if it’s true. The shelf life I’m most comfortable recommending is 8 – 10 years if stored at a stable 70º. My goal is to have dehydrated potatoes that will last for 2 years. I have a bumper crop this year. I have no guarantee about next year. If next year’s crop produces no potatoes, then I want enough of my home grown potatoes to get me through til the 2015 crop. I’m 100% confident with keeping dehydrated potatoes for 2 years.
You may never plan to grow your own potatoes but if ever you come across a screaming hot deal on potatoes and want to buy them but aren’t sure if you can use them before they go bad, you can always dehydrate them!
In the next potato post, I will talk about how I go about dehydrating them. I will tell you now that the dehydrator I use is the Excalibur 3926TB model.
It is expensive . . more so than many dehydrators you can buy. We’ve had several of the lesser expensive models through the years and they don’t compare to this one. The photo above was taken in MO when I was dehydrating peaches and okra. I’ve had this dehydrator for four years, though last year I didn’t use it at all, but I love it. I’m considering getting a second one because this time of year, I keep it going almost non-stop and it would be nice to double the load, but it’s something else to store during the months I’m not using it.