Eat or toss?
December 31, 2011 7:40 PM   Subscribe

I baked a potato (skin rubbed with olive oil and kosher salt before cooking), and stupidly left it in a cold oven for a few days. Looks ok (kind of shriveled, but not bad). Is it safe to reheat and eat?
posted by I'm Brian and so's my wife! to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Definitely; all three of those things would be fine if left on a counter unrefrigerated for three days, therefore they're also fine once cooked and left in an oven. Warm up and enjoy.
posted by Kakkerlak at 7:44 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't. Don't.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:46 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

More than likely, yes. But as missmerrymack said, it's a potato - cheap to buy, not liable to break most people's budget to buy another one. Is it really worth taking the risk for? But if your answer is yes, then I would at least reheat it to a temperature that will kill any nasties it may have acquired.
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:55 PM on December 31, 2011

A raw potato has a pretty good shelf life because -- among other things -- it is still alive, and has defense mechanisms to keep from being colonized. A cooked potato is dead, and in addition, its starches have been made more yummy and digestible for both humans and bacteria.

Apply the standard rule of thumb for cooked food: if its been in the thermal "danger zone" (between 40 and 140 F) for more than two hours, throw it out.
posted by Dimpy at 7:56 PM on December 31, 2011 [8 favorites]

It's absolutely safe to reheat and eat.
posted by caek at 7:57 PM on December 31, 2011

To address the OP's intent to "reheat" the food in an effort to (presumably) kill off any bacteria: reheating will kill the bacteria, but it's not the bacteria that give you the food-poisoning symptoms, it's the chemical toxins that the bacteria produce. Reheating does not effectively neutralize these chemical toxins, so if the potato has gone bad, reheating won't keep you from feeling sick.
posted by Dimpy at 8:01 PM on December 31, 2011 [10 favorites]

Google baked potatoes and botulism. Don't eat it.
posted by tamitang at 8:04 PM on December 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

Reheat and eat. It's a (perfectly good) potato.
posted by kengraham at 8:05 PM on December 31, 2011

If you have a gas oven it hasn't been cold, it's been nice and danger zone warm! Whatever oven you have though, I wouldn't eat it. Next day, sure, but not now.

This is not how you want to remember welcoming 2012, whether it's getting sick, or just eating the oldest potato you ever ate!
posted by crabintheocean at 8:16 PM on December 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I have absolutely no fear that the potato is going to make you sick. If nothing else, the salt is pretty hostile to yuckies.

But I wouldn't eat it because it's going to suck. Every now and then I make bakers to eat for dinner, and take the leftovers to work. Even warmed up in the toaster oven, they aren't so good. The thing is, when hot their liquid turns to steam. That's wonderful when you are there to open the potato and eat it with the wonderful fluffy potato flesh all hot and steamy. But when it cools, the moisture doesn't return to the potato. The whole thing toughens up, the starches seem starchier, and the skin gets leathery. You can't really restore its fresh-potato integrity.

So I'd say: not worth it. The only way to maybe save it is to scrape out any soft potato that's inside and cook it with something else. Or possibly, toss with another dose of oil and make home fries -something that might turn the toughness into crispness.
posted by Miko at 8:48 PM on December 31, 2011

P.S. I did Google baked potatoes and botulism, and the problem seems to be with foil wrapping, not potatoes themselves.
posted by Miko at 8:51 PM on December 31, 2011

It's more than likely safe, particularly since you oiled it, but there's always a chance that it won't be.

That said, it's also probably going to be to vegetables equivalent of what boiling and eating my moccasin style house slippers are to meat, particularly if it looks kind of shriveled.

Let it go. There will be other potatoes.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:51 PM on December 31, 2011 [4 favorites]

If anything Miko, the foil wrapping is going to help keep things OUT of the potato.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:52 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

No. Read the article.
posted by Miko at 8:55 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

If nothing else, that sounds like the saddest new year's eve dinner ever. Please get another potato.
posted by Space Kitty at 9:16 PM on December 31, 2011 [16 favorites]

Good lord, it's one potato. It's not worth risking any kind of food poisoning for. Not to mention it won't taste that great. Throw it out and bake another one.
posted by madman at 9:39 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Foil might provide an anerobic environment for botulism in particular, but I'm thinking of all the more common pathogens out there since botulism is pretty rare in the grand cosmic scheme of things. (Last time I looked there were like a dozen cases a year on average.)

It gets more attention because it's a food pathogen that will kill you instead of just making you wish you could just die and get it over with.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:03 PM on December 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

Would you want to go to a restaurant that cooked some potatoes a few days ahead, held them at room temperature, and then reheated them when you placed your order? I'm guessing the answer to that is no. So why would you do that to yourself?

No amount of reheating is going to kill the toxins that have been produced by all the bacteria that have been growing exponentially in your potato for the past few days.
posted by ralan at 10:05 PM on December 31, 2011 [4 favorites]

Botulism is an anaerobe so it will not flourish in the oxygen-rich environment of a potato, and I doubt that aluminum foil is gonna create a vacuum. But it will not taste good.
posted by Hobgoblin at 10:07 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

eating a 3-day old potato is something frat boys do during initiation.

also, no it's not edible.
posted by facetious at 10:38 PM on December 31, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone for your thoughtful input. I'm a potato lover and just hate wasting food...especially spuds, but decided to err on the side of caution and toss this in the trash.

Hope everyone had/is having a most safe and joyous New Year!
posted by I'm Brian and so's my wife! at 10:38 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

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