Potatoes and Onions – Storing Fruits and Vegetables

It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems with just potatoes.

– Douglas Adams

Storing Fruits and Vegetables

Picture of sweet potatoes and onions - Storing Fruits and Vegetables

Storing Fruits and Vegetables

What are the best ways of storing fruits and vegetables?   The storage methods and conditions you choose can help food stay fresh longer, taste better, and you will waste less food and money.

Do you store your potatoes and onions together?  Many people believe that you shouldn’t because the potatoes will sprout and rot faster.

This may be true to some extent but did you know that storing apples with your potatoes will help prevent them from sprouting?   It may sound strange, but the combination of fruits and vegetables in a storage area can be just as important and the temperature and the humidity of the storage area.

Storage Compatibility:

Some fruits and vegetables should not be stored together.  There are two reasons.  Firstly, the strong odor of some produce may be absorbed by other items.  For example, the smell of onions will be absorbed by potatoes and apples, affecting their taste.

Secondly, some ripening fruit will give off a gas called ethylene.  This gas will cause vegetables and other fruit to rot at a higher rate (or in the case of potatoes, prevent them from sprouting).  Some fruits give off ethylene gas at a much higher rate than others.  Apples for instance, have a high rate of ethylene production, while oranges have a very low rate of ethylene production.

It should be noted, that in some cases the ethylene gas can be beneficial.  For example, if you have some fruit that is not quite ripe, storing it with an apple will speed the ripening.

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Posted in Food Storage, Fresh Food
9 comments on “Potatoes and Onions – Storing Fruits and Vegetables
  1. Amanda says:

    It is not true that storing apples with potatoes will cause them to sprout faster. In fact, if you put your apples and potatoes together, your potatoes will not sprout or turn green for a long time. I have kept potatoes and apples together for longer than 8 weeks with neither of them deteriorating. I am disappointed because knowing that one statement to be false makes me question the validity of all the information included here.

    • Mark says:


      It sounds like you’ve had good luck storing your potatoes, and I think I did have some incorrect information.

      Apparently ethylene can be used to stop potatoes from sprouting. (http://www.potatogrower.com/2013/08/using-ethylene)

      Thanks for your comment.

      • Naomi says:

        Hi Mark,
        Thank you for writing your blog. I see that you have recently written a new post, and I appreciate that you are continuing to do research and write about food. I have been reading up on food storage and find that there are a lot of tips, but that the facts seem hard to pin down.

        I found this article about suppression of sprouting in potatoes and onions by using ethylene and would be interested in your thoughts: http://www.bio-fresh.com/what-is-ethylene/ However, I have also read in several places that onions and potatoes should not be stored together, because the potatoes produce ethylene gas that negatively affects the onions. However, these “facts” don’t really make sense together. Have you also come across this information since writing this article?

        Have you written any other articles on this topic? The upshot of all the food storage tips seems to be to read them and then experiment with the tips in the context of one’s own home / one’s own resources.

        all my best,

  2. Diane says:

    So how far apart should you store apples and potatoes from each other? I have a open basement and am wondering if I can store them on opposite ends of the basement.

    • Mark says:

      Diane, I’m afraid I can’t really give you a specific answer to your question. It depends. How many apples do you have? How well is your base ventilated?
      In general, I’d say that if they are on opposite sides of the room, you’re probably okay.

  3. Oktri says:

    Nice Post.
    Thank you for your article, im interested to read that, but im getiing little confused for some statement in your article. I found in another article that onion can absorb ethylene gas and moisture from potato and cause the potato will rot faster, but in yours said that potato absorb ethylene gas from onion, how about that?

    • Mark says:

      Thanks for the comment Oktri.
      This article says that the potato will absorb the smell from the onion. That’s not the same as absorbing ethylene gas. The article you read is likely true, but I’ll try to find a good answer to where the ethylene gas flows and the effects it will have. I’ll post an update if I find an answer.
      Sorry for the confusion.

  4. Paula says:

    This is a awesome source for my project even tho there is not a lot of information

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