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Home » Blog » Is it Safe to Eat Potatoes with Sprouts?

Is it Safe to Eat Potatoes with Sprouts?

We’ve all faced the temptation: a great deal on a massive bag of potatoes at the grocery store. The versatility of potatoes in quick recipes is undeniable. However, what should you do when those potatoes start sprouting tiny green roots? Is it safe to consume sprouted potatoes, or should you consider cultivating them instead?

Understanding Potato Sprouting

Potatoes sprout under specific conditions. Exposure to light, proximity to onions, or lingering on the counter after a stint in the refrigerator can lead to the formation of those characteristic “eyes.” Storing potatoes in the coldest part of the house may seem like a solution, but refrigeration is a no-go. Starches can convert to sugar, producing harmful chemicals during cooking.

Edibility of Sprouted Potatoes

The decision to eat sprouted potatoes depends on the extent of sprouting. If only a few small sprouts have appeared, salvaging them by cutting off the affected areas with a kitchen knife or potato peeler might be an option. However, if multiple large sprouts are present, accompanied by shriveling or wrinkling, it’s time to bid farewell.

Adhering to general food safety guidelines, treat sprouted potatoes like any other aging produce. When uncertain, it’s wise to err on the side of caution. The National Capital Poison Center recommends discarding potatoes that have sprouted, signaling elevated levels of toxins compared to fresh ones.

Potatoes naturally contain solanine and chaconine, two toxins that increase over time, particularly with exposure to light. These toxins concentrate in potato sprouts and skin, with the white flesh containing significantly lower levels. While the effects of these toxins typically require multiple servings to manifest, symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, headache, and fever can occur. Peeling and thorough cooking can reduce toxin exposure, but consuming raw potatoes is strongly discouraged.

Preventing Potato Sprouting

Proper potato storage is crucial. Keep potatoes in a cool, dry place like a pantry or cabinet, and avoid placing them near onions, as their gases can accelerate sprouting. While bulk purchases might be tempting for cost savings, it’s safer to buy potatoes as needed. Consider using breathable, cotton storage bags in a cool, dark location for bulk storage.

Recognizing Other Signs of Spoilage

Sprouting is just one indicator that a potato might be past its prime. A healthy potato should feel firm with tight, unblemished skin. Mushiness, softness, blemishes, bruises, or black spots are red flags that indicate it’s time to discard.

Greening is another concern, as exposure to light increases chlorophyll in potatoes, turning them green. While chlorophyll itself isn’t harmful, it signals an increase in other toxins. Trust your sense of smell; a musty or moldy odor indicates spoilage.

Navigating the nuances of sprouting potatoes ensures your culinary adventures stay on the safe side. Remember, when in doubt, it’s better to part ways with that questionable spud.”

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Maya Clark
Maya Clark

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