Many people enjoy potatoes and love to buy them in bulk. But if your potatoes have bruises when you harvest them, your produce won’t sell as well as you want it to, making them go to waste. For ways to prevent bruising in your potato crops, read on for helpful information to prepare your potatoes for the market.
What Causes Bruising in Potatoes?
A potato, like any organism, has skin and cells that will receive damage. The potato’s skin is a protective barrier that protects the cells underneath. When these cells become damaged from a fall or blunt force, the cells underneath the skin crush and rupture, releasing enzymes that cause the tissue to look black.
Older, more ripened potatoes will bruise easily because their skin is softer from age. Weaker skin will have a poor defense for the cells underneath, and it will become easier for the cells to become crushed and die. Handle potatoes with care if the crop you harvest has older produce.
Ethylene gas is another factor that will soften the potato’s skin. Potatoes are a product that produces ethylene gas, which causes produce to ripen quicker and will cause softness on the surface and beneath the layer of skin.
Placing your potatoes next to each other for long periods will eventually cause them to ripen quicker and make them easier to bruise. Ventilation is essential for potatoes, and packing potatoes in an airtight container will eventually ruin the crop and make them difficult to sell, thanks to bruising.
Types of Bruising
Not all bruising is the same, especially in potatoes. The type of bruising you find in your potatoes will tell you how the potatoes became bruised. It can also tell you what you may need to change in your harvesting process to mitigate bruising for future crops. Look for these bruises anytime you handle or transfer potatoes and determine how you may improve your potato harvesting.
This bruising is one of the most common among potatoes and will usually go unnoticed because it’s under the skin. When the skin becomes damaged but unbroken, it and the tissue beneath it may deform. The damage causes the internal cells to release enzymes that cause the black and brown spots we call bruises. Black spot bruises go unnoticed until you cut into the potato and see the spots, and they’re an unpleasant surprise to those who buy and cook the produce.
Stacking potatoes on one another is a common storage method, but doing so will eventually lead to pressure bruising. This bruising occurs when too much pressure weighs on the potato, causing continuous damage to the cells and creating a bruise. When potatoes pile on top of each other, the potatoes at the bottom will show bruising as you take them out of storage. The weight of the other potatoes will cause damage from the pressure, and the potato will appear flattened and bruised as a result.
This bruising is more visible than the other types and will appear as an indent or fissure underneath the potato’s skin. The skin will remain unbroken while these lines will cause the potato to have a “shattered” appearance that makes them look older and unappealing to consumers. The tissue underneath separates from itself as a fissure, which will cause the skin to sink in and form the indent you see.
The different types of bruises seen on and within a potato come from various sources. Knowing the methods to prevent bruising for your potato crops will help you develop better practices and ensure your product looks clean and healthy to those who buy it. Consider these causes and create the best conditions for your potato crops the next harvest to avoid bruising.
The storage you place your potatoes in may be harmful despite being effective. As mentioned before, potatoes require ventilation to avoid overripening. Your storage will need holes or open space to keep the air around the potatoes flowing. Paper potato sacks will have a thick enough material to hold multiple potatoes but have an open top to allow air into the bag.
Boxes and wooden crates are optimal for carrying large amounts of potatoes but may cause pressure bruising from stacking potatoes. Use cardboard boxes with holes in the surface for a ventilated storage container without a hard surface that will damage loose potatoes if they roll around and hit the sides. The environment of the potatoes may be just as damaging to the produce’s well-being. Therefore, you need to consider the safety of the potatoes before you use any method of storage or transfer.
Insulation Around the Potatoes
Fragile objects require insulation around them to prevent damage from blunt force. Your potatoes need insulation to prevent bruising as you store and transfer them in containers. Choose the insulation that will keep your product safe and won’t suffocate the produce.
Double-bagging the potatoes with multiple potato sacks will provide an extra cushion to protect them from damage. Layer the potatoes with layers of thermal insulation bags that will keep the potatoes padded and regulated in temperature while preventing pressure bruising from stacking.
If it’s too hot or cold around the potato, bruising will be more likely. The skin and external tissue will handle the temperatures in most climates, but the potato’s pulp will feel the effects of fluctuating temperatures and make the potato’s cells weaker.
Prevent the potato from getting too cold to avoid shatter bruises due to the tissue’s fragility from the cold. Wait for the warmest possible day if you live in an area with a cooler climate, and harvest the produce in sunlight to prevent shatter bruising.
Warm, dry climates will create conditions in the potato that lead to black spot bruising. The potato cells require moisture to remain alive and healthy. In warm, dry temperatures, this moisture will recede and cause damage to the potato to become more severe. Store potatoes in areas with higher humidity to keep them moist and healthy.
Consider the area around your potatoes whenever you harvest or store them. The potatoes need healthy environments like any organism, and temperature is an essential element of that environment.
Keep your potatoes safe and unbruised by understanding what causes bruising. Your potatoes will sell better in markets, and you won’t need to worry about their appearance as you follow safer practices to keep them safe from any marks underneath or along their skin.