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Storing Potatoes And Dealing With Black Spots

Q:

We have a restaurant located in Mountain Home, Arkansas. We buy all of our restaurant needs from Performance Foodservice.  We are currently buying your potatoes (approximately 15 to 20 cases per week).  When our delivery comes (twice a week), our potatoes come in off the truck and appear to be in good condition, wet and cool from the humidity from a refrigerated truck.  The potatoes temp between 50-55 degrees.  It has been a very hot and humid summer here.  Today, for instance, our heat index are in the triple digits.  The potatoes appear to be solid and in good shape.  We bring them into the restaurant, we have a stored area under a window with a window air conditioner blowing right on them.  We immediately foil wrap about 3/4 of them and put them back under the window until the potatoes are used.  The air conditioner is set as low as it can go, but at times, it seems blows out warm-ish air.  We use the potatoes within a week.  When we take the potatoes over to start wrapping them, some of the potatoes have black spots on them (pictures attached).  Some that appear to be good are wrapped and stored but when cooked they turn to mush and stink.  We do cook them in foil.  We tried cooking them without foil but customers complained about them getting cold.  It does get very hot in the kitchen.  We have had to complain to our vendor on a weekly basis for the past 6-8 weeks.  Do you feel it is something on the vendor’s side or are we doing something wrong in our restaurant? Any information and advice would be greatly appreciated.

A:

Potatoes that are wet should not be wrapped in foil for use much later. That moisture trapped inside is just going to cause the potatoes to get soft or moldy. Let them dry out before wrapping, and usually wrap one meal period in advance.  If using within a week, you should store the potatoes in any cooler part of the kitchen or restaurant unwrapped.

Cartons: One way to find out when the potatoes were packed and how old they are buy the time you get them is to look for the info on the box.

Current Julian Dates

Each carton also contains info on what Idaho shipper packed the boxes, you might want to contact them directly with these issues if the potatoes were packed just days ago.

Shed ID Numbers

Licensed Fresh Idaho® Potato Shippers

As for the black spots… a number of things could cause this, but I would certainly go back to the supplier with the pictures and info you shared with me. Most common is black spot bruising, which can show up at the end of the season if the potatoes have been in storage at a cold temp and then brought out to room temps.

Dr. Potato: It's Natural to Have Potato Bruising

I am not a fan of wrapped potatoes, but if you have to, do it as close to final cooking as possible. Here are some links to consider:

Dr. Potato answers about Foil