Is It Ok To Eat Potatoes That Have Sprouted?

Is It Ok To Eat Potatoes That Have Sprouted?

Is it ok to eat potatoes that have sprouted? Well, we all have been there once or twice, especially during the festive seasons, when everything is on sale. You just end up buying a big bag of potatoes without even thinking twice.

So, there is a good chance that a handful of them may have sprouted here and there. So, do you just throw it away? Is it really okay for you to eat those? Do they have anything to do with your health? Well, the questions are many, and the answers are less.

But worry not. If you have asked, is it ok? We are here to the rescue. In this article, we shall discuss if it is at all okay to eat sprouted potatoes and when is the exact time to throw them away.

Is It Ok To Eat Potatoes That Have Sprouted?

The short and simple answer is: It depends!

When a potato starts to sprout, the growths (those little eyes, roots, and bumps) have a pretty high concentration of a compound called glycoalkaloids which may cause an unpleasant, sharp, and bitter taste. For most people, you would not witness any bad effects if you consume negligible amounts of it. In fact, one of the compounds, known as solanine, is the exact compound that you may find naturally occurring in tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers.

However, consuming them in larger quantities, like the ones in shoots or roots that are just popping up in the back of your store – it may be toxic.

If you have any potatoes that look just fine, you may still give it a chance. Just make sure that you are very carefully removing the sprouts right from the roots. This way, you can just really get in there and remove everything that you would not want to eat. They are going to be just fine and just as fulfilling when you cook and eat them (even if they do not look good when they are still raw.)

However, if there is a case where the spuds look like they have grown pretty long and are all set to throw a fight, which means the spuds are pretty long, please just throw them away. Those big sprouts are not very pleasing to eat. Also, considering the worst case, they will make you sick. Really, really, sick. Symptoms of solanine poisoning include literally everything, starting from headache and fever to an immensely upset stomach.

Okay, How About They Are Green?

Potatoes that are kept under the sun will not only start with photosynthesis but also produce solanine. If the green spots on the taters are light in color and are just skin deep, you need to peel them pretty well to get rid of the greener parts and sally forth. However, if it has any other color than green, it is better to toss them off. There is no point in risking your health for potato sprouts.

Why Do Potatoes Even Sprout?

The answer to this question comes down to where the potatoes have come from and what they require to grow. Potatoes do not always need a lot of dirt to grow like any other plants or foods might. However, they do need a lot of darkness and moisture.

So, that would mean that even if the potatoes are not in the dirt but are in a moist and dark place, even if that is your kitchen pantry, they are going to sprout. They just think they are on the ground, and they just do their job by growing. Can you really blame them?

How Can You Safely Remove Potato Sprouts?

Fortunately, safely removing the potato sprouts is pretty easy. You may use potato peelers or just snap them off with your hand.

“[Vegetable peelers] are great because they have sharp tools to dig out the eyes and base of the sprouts while also having a peeler to use after they’re cleaned up,”

says Bryan Silness, the associate manager at research and development at Kraft Heinz.

Removing the sprouts is actually one of the easiest things to do while you are cleaning the potatoes. So, you would just want to take some time to rinse off the potatoes under running water to wash off any dirt on the skin.

“Use the sharp edge of the tool to dig out the eye. Try to get all of it, even though your potato may look a little moon-like! Once you have finished peeling them, make sure to rinse them under running water again to ensure all the bad stuff gets washed off,”

Silness said.

What Is The Best Way To Store Potatoes?

Well, potatoes do not know the difference between soil and floor. If they are getting a moist and dark place, they will start growing. This is something you would want to avoid. Therefore, even if you are getting fresh potatoes, storage may just make them sprout out of nowhere.

Hence, storage matters.

“If you buy them from the produce section of your grocer, transfer them to a breathable bag, like paper or mesh, or put them in a cardboard box, and stash in a cool, dry place,” Silness said.

You would have to make sure that the storage is not too humid or hot, as that is how the potatoes would start sprouting to begin with.

Potatoes are the ultimate drama queens because they don’t do well in the cold, either. So, there is no way that you can store them in a refrigerator either.

“The cold temperatures can cause the starches to convert to sugars and turn brown when they cook, just like a banana as it ripens,”

Silness adds.

How To Prevent Potatoes from Sprouting?

Sprouting potatoes is one of the biggest concerns when it comes to buying them. You cannot buy them in a big lot because they sprout quicker than others.   

Here are some of the most effective ways in which you can prevent your potatoes from sprouting.   

Keep The Away from Heat or Light 

As I mentioned before, storing potatoes plays a major role in preventing them from sprouting. Heat, light, and humidity make the potatoes sprout way faster. Therefore, it is better to keep them in a dark, dry, and cool place. The best options are a drawer or a pantry in comparison to a windowsill or a counter where the light or heat may have a direct effect.   

Store Potatoes in the Fridge

If you want to keep the potatoes fresh and good, keep them in the fridge. Newer research techniques challenge the age-old practices of storing potatoes. So, keeping them in the fridge is not that bad of an option. You get to keep them away from all the heat, light, and humidity.   

Experts have suggested storing potatoes in a fridge because the freezing temperatures may increase their potential carcinogens; however, new research says this is not the case. As per the FSA, a fridge extends the shelf life of potatoes by around three to four months.   

Keep The Potatoes Out of the Plastic Bag

Potatoes usually come in your regular plastic bag. They are not the best for storage. If you want to keep them from sprouting, keep them in a mesh or paper bag. Plastic does not allow the moisture to leave. Thus, it makes it easy to grow mold or fungus.   

Keep The Potatoes Away from Certain Vegetables or Fruits

It also matters how you store your potatoes with certain fruits or vegetables. Do not keep them with avocadoes, apples, tomatoes, or other kinds of fruits or veggies that release ethylene. That is a gas that certain fruits and vegetables produce. It makes them ripe quicker than their usual speed.   

Remove The Rotten or Sprouted Potato

If you did not know it already – one sprouted potato can make the others sprout, too. So, if you notice one of your potatoes getting sprouted, take it away from the rest of the lot. There is no point in leaving them with the rest just for the bacteria to grow and spoil the rest of them.   

How Can You Pick the Best Potatoes?

When you are buying potatoes, choose the ones that feel firm and do not have any spots or bruises. Also, try not to buy the ones that have green tinges on them. That is the chlorophyll, indicating that the potato has been in the light for too long. Light is one of the major reasons why potatoes sprout.   

It’s better to go for the ones that barely have any visible eyes. The eyes are a small dent from where the buds and sprouts emerge. If you see sprouts are already growing, even if they are too small, stay away from them. There is a high chance they will grow out quickly and ruin the rest of the potatoes, too.   

When Should You Toss Out The Sprouted Potatoes?

The best kind of potatoes are firm and have tight and nice skin. Those are the kind you would want for the tastiest baked potatoes, fires, and wedges.

Anything that is not the above mentioned criterias, needs to be tossed out as soon as possible. If you feel that the potatoes are mushy, soft, moist, or squeezable, they are way past their prime. “If you cut into a potato and it looks green or brown throughout, you should throw your potatoes away,” added Silness.

The Bottom Line

I am hoping by now you know that it is ok to eat potatoes that have sprouted. It is better not to. You may not even know how that may affect your health, so it is best to toss them out of the window.

It also matters how you are storing them in a place. Make sure it is not too moist or dark, as the potatoes may just start sprouting there itself. If the spuds are small, you pull them off from the roots. However, if they have grown longer, just throw them away as soon as possible.

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About Author

Upasana is a budding journalist who has a keen interest in writing. She considers writing as therapeutic and is most confident when she writes. She is passionate about music, movies and fashion. She writes in a way that connects with the audience in a personal level. She is optimistic, fun loving and opinionated.

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