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It's harvesting time down the allotment right now and hubby and I have been successful with pretty much everything we have turned our hands to for the second year in a row. We have so far managed to pull up beetroot, Swedes, tomatoes, beans, peas, runner beans, Onions, Spring Onions, French beans and potatoes to date.
The problem with growing food is that you never know how successful you are going to be and some time it is a case of grow it and see and potatoes are one of those foods which either work perfectly and are free from blight (a disease which affects potato growth) or they don't and many other allotment holders have had mixed results. Anyway, we planted potatoes known as 'earlies' which mean they are your first crop and we have been very successful and have given quite a lot of them away to friends and family but have naturally kept some for ourselves, the main problem is storing them in our flat. When you first harvest your potatoes, you are told that you should leave them out in the sun for a few hours to dry off and allow the skin to harden a little and then brush off any excess soil and check for damage and bugs. The most important point when storing potatoes is to exclude light because prolonged exposure to light will cause your potatoes to turn Green. Green potatoes are poisonous as it indicates that solanine, an alkaloid, has been formed. You can still eat partially greened potatoes so long as you cut the green bit off. It was only recently that I learnt that potatoes are part of the same family, solanaceae, as Deadly Nightshade (aka Atropa Belladonna)! So if you have potatoes that have turned a bit green, my advice would be to chuck them in the bin and not to eat them or you might find yourself poorly.
Lakeland, my trusted kitchen companion and a shop that I adore as previous reviews show has multiple options when it comes to food storage and food preserving and it is from here I get my pickling jars for my beetroot but where I also got my Potato Bag from. Yes you read that right, Lakeland sell a product which has been specifically designed to preserve potatoes and keep them fresher for longer. This particular bag is brown coloured and is sold in a clear plastic bag with a cardboard holder displaying what the product is and it is one of 3 different ones that Lakeland sell. My reasons for choosing this one is because it looked much more space conserving and better quality than the cheaper versions. This bag sells for £7.49 and the cheaper versions are just over the £3 mark and the most expensive potato bag is £15.49 and it will hold 9lbs of potatoes and I have just bought it to go alongside this one because of the sheer numbers of potatoes we have harvested and have yet to harvest.
The potato bag is made of a breathable canvass which allows air to circulate amongst the potatoes to keep them fresher but it is also a heavy duty enough to keep out the light which causes the green colouring of your potatoes and it prevents them from sprouting. The bag itself measures 24cm in Diameter x 21cm Height and for those of you who work in inches that is 9 ½ by 8 ¼. So whilst it isn't very large it will hold 3kg or 6lbs of potatoes quite comfortably.
When it comes to using the bag it is really quite simple. Make sure it placed on a flat surface and then when opened, stack your potatoes in as much as you possibly can and then using the drawstring to close the bag and then store it somewhere cool and out of the direct sunlight to ensure you keep your potatoes as fresh 2-3 weeks later as they were when you first bought or in my case picked them.
I have been using my potato bag ever since I have had my allotment and first started to grow and harvest potatoes and they are brilliant and do keep your potatoes fresh. If I was just buying potatoes from the supermarket or the market I would still buy one of these and use it in exactly the same way. I keep my filled bag in the cupboard with my pans so it is cool and dark and only open it when I need potatoes. So it is worth investing in if you grow potatoes or need to buy a lot of potatoes to keep them fresher for longer.