The Reason You Should Never Wash Potatoes In Advance

Potatoes are a versatile and sturdy food enjoyed throughout the year, from hearty winter dishes to french fries accompanying summer grill favorites. When stored properly, uncooked potatoes can last up to two months, says MasterClass, making them an excellent pantry staple.

That said, Livestrong warns that potatoes rank high on the list of dirtiest fresh produce. Properly storing and washing potatoes can make a big difference in their cleanliness. Washing is vital since potatoes are root vegetables grown in the ground, and their skins can carry dirt, pesticides, and bacteria. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that you wash all produce, even those you can peel, like potatoes.

While washing potatoes is a crucial step, you don't want to wash them too soon. Store your potatoes dry in a dark and cool place like a pantry to ensure the most extended and safest shelf life. Washing potatoes before storing them can make them damp and more susceptible to spoiling, warns Spudman.

When do you wash potatoes before cooking?

It's best to wash potatoes just before you use them, says the Idaho Potato Commission. Waiting to clean your potatoes is essential because they can collect bacteria after washing, says Livestrong. Leaving washed potatoes out provides ample opportunities to get them dirty again. If you need to prepare the potatoes beforehand, you have some wiggle room for only a few hours. To do so, place the peeled potatoes in water, seal the storage container, and refrigerate them. Per the Food Network, storing the peeled potatoes in water prevents discoloration.

You can store refrigerated peeled potatoes in water for up to one day, but you will need to rewash them before you use them. This extra step helps remove any bacteria that's settled on the potatoes. Rewashing potatoes also adds to their crispy texture if you're baking or frying them, notes Martha Stewart. According to the Food Network, leaving potatoes in water longer than 24 hours invites bacteria, and the potatoes absorb the moisture, becoming mushy when used.

Suppose you're facing tough dirt that even resists a vegetable brush. In that case, it's ok to soak the potatoes at room temperature for 20 minutes to loosen the dirt, says Livestrong. MasterClass even suggests putting extra dirty potatoes on your dishwasher's top rack and using the rinse cycle, without soap, to clean them. 

Following these simple steps will help ensure safe and clean potatoes for your future recipes.