Storage for potatoes onions etc - please post you pics

lalitharJuly 25, 2011

I prefer to keep some vegetables outside. I used to have a two level fruit bowl thingie that I kept the onions and potatoes in but in my new kitchen, I am looking for built in ideas. We are doing all drawer under counter. I saw a wicker basket drawr but it looks like it would be a pain go clean. Any other ideas?

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I'm doing drawers under counter too, except for a 9" cab to the right of the sink. I was told drawers there would be awfully narrow, which is true, so I'm getting a couple shelves instead (with a door). I've seen baskets that will fit. Plan on lining them with something and storing onions & potatoes on separate shelves there. Just in process of ordering, so no pics.
If you end up using any type of baskets, you can cut a cheap vinyl placemat or something to use as a liner that would be easy to clean.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 7:05AM
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I remember this old thread about potato and onion storage. Not all built in but I thought I would link it here. I've been loving the canisters bostonpam posted on this thread.

Here is a link that might be useful: Potato and onion storage thread

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 10:37AM
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I have a large open shelf in the island near the prep sink. On it goes a compost bucket (comes out easily to move where needed, has a lid; square and plastic), a couple cutting boards too large to fit in the cutting board drawer, lettuce spinner which is always too wet to put away (the shelf is lined plus the cutting boards provide protection), a couple colanders, one to fit over the sink ... and a couple wicker baskets for onions and potatoes. Easy in easy out. It's possible they're not cool or dark enough in there but so far so good.

I don't have a good picture of the full length of the shelf; everything's messy or incomplete. If you need a photo let me know. The space is tall enough for the spinner - 10" I think? and wide - 40"w I think. And regular depth, 24" but when open that's a long way back too.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 11:52AM
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lalitha I have drawers under the counter and I am looking for built in ideas too. I have not yet figured out where to store onions garlic and potatoes. I think they need more air than they get in a fridge. Btw, what is " keep some vegetables outside"? Do you mean out of the fridge?

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 7:21AM
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collins design

Both potatoes and onions need cool, dark, ventilated storage (not in the fridge; too cold and converts potatoes starch to sugars, makes onions soft) for the longest life.

Unfortunately, they also can't be stored right next to each other, or they will spoil faster. So one needs to find two separate spaces that satisfy those requirements. I keep my onions in a base cabinet (under the prep/bar sink) that's on an outside wall, therefore slightly cooler than others. They have a basket there. The potatoes are stored in a basket on the floor of the coat closet in the adjacent mudroom, also a fairly cool, dark place. I used to keep them in a bin mounted to the wall at the bottom of the basement stairs. Again, cool, dark, but ventilated.

None of these are super convenient, but it REALLY bugs me to throw away onions that have gone mushy or potatoes that are too sprouted to use, so I try to keep them in the best conditions possible.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 7:52AM
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I use open adjustable shelves in a base cabinet next to the prep sink. It is as cool as anyplace else in the kitchen and fairly dark because the root vegetables are stored in baskets. Sorry I don't have access to a picture on this computer. Here is one online.

Here is a link that might be useful: kitchen pics

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 8:15AM
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Lauren Wollmershauser

I hear that all the time, that you can't store them together, but it seems that there's evidence to the contrary. See the link below if you're interested.

Here is a link that might be useful: University of Minnesota Info

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 8:31AM
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the last line in that text doesn't contradict anything here. It is best not to store them together.

What astounds me is that no solution has yet been found! No cabinet company, no home economist, no ergonomist, no supply management expert, no refrigeration company, nobody has ever built a system, appliance or cabinet that works "just right" for root vegetables and tubers. I think we need more compartments than just the standard options. Today, there's either freezer, fridge, or a vague sense of "general house air" in a base cabinet or a shelf, not part of a system, not humidity-controlled, not air-managed.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 8:51AM
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We just keep ours in Ikea baskets on the counter in the corner. I know the conditions are not ideal, but we usually go through them quickly enough that it doesn't matter.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 9:16AM
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davidro, you make an interesting observation that no modern solution has been found for optimal storage of root vegetables. But I think there was an ancient, low-tech solution: the root cellar. It wouldn't have been consistently 32 or 40 degrees, but it would have been cool and dark. It also would have been somewhat inconvenient; the potatoes and onions would have to be fetched. I guess you'd send a scullery maid or a child. If our basements weren't heated, we could probably still store produce down there.

Unfortunately, I don't have a scullery maid, so I try to keep the produce in easy reach. There are some good storage ideas on this and the older thread. I might try the "hang in a mesh bag from the ceiling of the broom closet" idea. That seems an efficient use of unexploited space

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 9:57AM
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lalitha - We have the built-in wicker option. They come with a clear plastic liner for ease of cleaning. I'm a little irked with the quality of the wicker (it feels like moulded plastic), but I'm assuming that's for ease of cleaning too? In any case, it doesn't look bad from standing height and the wood sliding bases make up for it... it just kind of grates against the purist in me :)

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 11:31AM
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Oh no, another thing to obsess about in my kitchen!

I do love what they did in this video from the 1950's. I don't think I have the space to replicate it, but maybe if you have a cupboard or closet on the other side of a wall? - The potatoes, etc are in the wall in a tilt-out bin.

@ 7:46 min in.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 1:54PM
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Here's what the experts say:

From the National Potato Council...

"They should be stored in a cool, dry environment with good ventilation. Paper bags, cardboard boxes, and pantries are good places to store them. An ideal temperature for storage would be between 45 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid storing them in plastic bags or in refrigerators and make sure the environment is not too warm." And NIH says "Never eat potatoes that are spoiled or green below the skin." (

And from the National Onion Association...

Store your onions in a cool, dry, ventilated place - not in the refrigerator. Do not store whole onions in plastic bags. Lack of air movement reduces storage life. Chopped or sliced onions can be stored in a sealed container in your refrigerator for up to 7 days.

I love the canisters but worry about the size as I do not feel I can give up the counter space.

The wire drawers seem nice but I think the spuds are supposed to be stored in the dark right? The bamboo steamer seems to be a great idea..

That video was amazing! Looks like they solved the kitchen design problem in 1949! I love the scrape hole idea, the pull out task table idea as well as the potato/ onion idea. I was looking at baking center ideas in another thread..

Countrygirl --> Thanks for linking the old thread.. honestly I searched a few different search terms and did not come up with any hits.

Davidro1 --> Ha Ha.. I had to laugh as I was trying to explain it to a potential KD.. She kept asking me "what do you mean.. you have a fridge for vegetable storage" .. I explained to her that I like to keep some veggies outside.. I guess a gal who doesn't cook has no business being a KD. But you haven't found a solution...I am shocked :)

Alabamamommy --> My cabinet guy suggested similar basket and yes.. the purist in me was the one who prompted me to post as well :)

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 4:33PM
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45-55 degrees??? It sounds like it's best to store the potatoes in the built in wine refrigerator next to the 1997 Chateau Grenouille. Although I suppose that doesn't have enough ventilation, so a root cellar is basically the only way to go. Tell them to start digging!

A plastic container without a lid on the bottom shelf of the pantry is my plan.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 5:37PM
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The Fisher & Paykel CoolDrawer can be set at "Pantry" temp for a consistent 54 degrees. It would be a pricy solution, but it's an option...

The original model Kitchenaid Superba / Jenn-Air refrigerator drawers (now long discontinued) also allowed you to set the bottom drawers to "pantry" at any temp from 40 to 60.

You could also probably build something yourself based on wine cooler hardware...the temperature ranges are right, its just that wine cellars are meant to retain high humidity, which you wouldn't want here.

The butler pantry in our condo, circa 1910, has a tilt-out for potatoes built in that we are keeping in our remodel...the biggest problem in practice is that we (a family of only 2) don't use THAT many potatoes and onions, and the bin is quite deep. When I was a kid, though, we just kept them all in the basement.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 7:10PM
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I was thinking of doing something like this:

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 12:17AM
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I have an "onion and potato drawer" kind of like MadsMama's as a bottom drawer in my current 1961 kitchen, although I did not originally recognize what it was for, so I've always used it for dish towels (oh, well, too late now). It has a bottom made of peg board and slits in the front of the drawer, with two dividers in it. I does occur to me, though, that you would have to put something underneath the onions, or else you would get little pieces of onion skin accumulating under the cabinet behind the toekick.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 9:34AM
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We've stored potatoes and onions in baskets on shelves under the counter, garlic up above in one of those ceramic thingies. The baskets are repurposed from our old closets. Other baskets on the open shelves hold recipes clipped from the newspaper, or Tupperware containers. Sorry the picture is terrible, but you can just make out where the four largish baskets are on the shelves below the counter.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 9:04PM
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Skimmton - what a great video! I love the "Functional House Dresses" credit - cracked me up!

I too am struggling with the same issue - and am thinking of designing a rather inconvenient set of drawers in the yet-to-be built downstairs storage area that might make the tubers happy. Having said that, I usually purchase potatoes when I need them, but onions are a mainstay and definitely need to be convenient. Great link topic... didn't think of it before designing the kitchen. Ugh.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 1:10PM
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My contractor found 4 wicker lined baskets that fit perfectly on a shelf in my pull out pantry. I have been using it for about a month and it works perfectly. I have
washable shelf liner on the drawer and the potatoes and onions are keeping better than they did in my basement prior to my kitchen remodel.

Here is a link that might be useful: kitchen b-4 & after

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 1:53PM
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Sorry - I thought I had added the interior photo of the pantry, but when I went back to check, it doesn't seem to be there. I have the photo as a PDF attachment on my computer and do not know how to link it to this thread?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 2:02PM
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I have an old grocery cart that I used to store potatoes and onions in. I think they last longer in the fridge so I moved them but I liked them in the cart. Maybe it's just too hot here. It's the 3rd one here (link below)

Here is a link that might be useful: old grocery cart

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 11:35PM
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I have two wire baskets, one for each, that I keep on different shelves in my pantry. The bottoms of the inside of the baskets is about 1/2 inch above the very bottom of the basket frame, so the vegetables have good air circulation. There's just two of us, so I don't store large quantites.

Baskets are similar to this:

Here is a link that might be useful: Wire basket

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 12:30AM
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How timely this is. I'm in the process of setting up my pantry now. I've got a 15" wide tall pantry cab and am using Ikea drawers as pull outs. My space is pretty limited, so likely i'll be storing root vegs in the same pull out. Does anyone use those As Seen on TV green bags? I've used them in my fridge and they seem to work, but I wonder if they would work for root vegetables to prevent off gassing. No basement or root cellars here in North Texas. In the past I've used the ikea baskets like a previous poster, but have dealt with mushy onions stuck to the bottom.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 3:39PM
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