Did You Know This Age-Old Technique Keeps Potatoes Fresh All Winter?

The traditional agricultural practices of Gojal Valley in Hunza have preserved an ancient, sustainable technique of storing potatoes, pivotal for communities across the Gilgit-Baltistan region. This method, born out of necessity and refined over centuries, is sophisticated in its simplicity and effectiveness, allowing the potatoes to remain fresh and usable for several months during the harsh winters. Here’s a more detailed exploration of this ancient technique and how it can inform modern storage practices.

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A Closer Look at the Technique:

Harvesting and Selection:

In Gojal Valley, farmers meticulously harvest potatoes, selecting the ones that are undamaged, disease-free, and adequately matured. This careful selection is crucial, as damaged or immature potatoes can affect the overall storage life of the batch.

Preparation for Burial:

Once selected, the potatoes are prepared for burial. They are carefully cleaned to remove any soil and are left to cure for a day or two. This curing process allows any cuts or bruises on the potatoes to heal, reducing the risk of decay during storage.

Burial Process:

Farmers then bury these cured potatoes under the frozen earth before the onset of winter. The potatoes are placed in a pit, layered with straw to provide insulation and to absorb any excess moisture. The pit is then covered with a thick layer of soil, which acts as a natural barrier, protecting the potatoes from external elements and pests.

Natural Refrigeration:

The frozen earth serves as a natural refrigerator, maintaining a consistent cold temperature and high humidity level. These conditions slow down the metabolic processes of the potatoes, preserving their freshness and preventing sprouting.

Adapting the Ancient Wisdom:

Modern Storage:

To adapt this method, store potatoes in a cool, dark, and well-ventilated place, preferably in cloth sacks or paper bags that allow for adequate air circulation and prevent moisture accumulation. Avoid plastic bags as they trap moisture and accelerate spoilage.

Temperature and Humidity:

Maintain storage temperatures between 45-50°F (7-10°C). While a humid environment is essential to prevent potatoes from drying out, ensure it is not excessively damp to avoid mold and rot.

Separation and Inspection:

Store potatoes away from fruits and vegetables emitting ethylene gas and regularly inspect them, removing any that show signs of spoilage or sprouting.


The ancient potato storage technique from Gojal Valley is a harmonious blend of meticulous selection, preparation, and natural refrigeration. This sustainable practice, honed over generations, speaks volumes about the symbiotic relationship between humans and nature. By understanding and adapting the principles of this age-old method, we can enhance our modern storage techniques, ensuring freshness and reducing wastage, all while paying homage to the timeless wisdom of the farmers of Gilgit-Baltistan.

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