Potatoes okay after a hot summer in the ground?
August 18, 2012 1:12 PM   Subscribe

Should-I-Eat-ThisFilter, gardening edition: while cleaning my garden after months of neglect, I found a ton of gorgeous fingerling potatoes. The bad part: they've been in hot soil all summer. I didn't even know they were there.

Google searches reveal a lot of recommendations to leave potatoes in the ground for storage, but they seem to assume a more temperate climate than the hellscape of Austin, TX.

I planted the potatoes in February, using seed potatoes from a local nursery and supposedly good for our climate. They grew splendidly through the spring, then they half-died from bugs and blight (I think -- yellow spots on leaves, etc.). That was right about the time the stupid summer heat started in earnest, and I gave up on the whole garden. These little potatoes have been in hot soil ever since. I had figured the potato plants had died and taken the tubers with them.

So should I eat them? Some had little roots, but they otherwise look good to me. I'm concerned about heat, insect, and hell, even blight damage.
posted by liet to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are they at all green, or otherwise not potato-colored? If not, I'd eat them.
posted by rtha at 1:17 PM on August 18, 2012

If they've got roots, that's probably a good sign - they're healthy enough to settle themselves.

If they look good and feel firm you should be fine.

I don't know why the heat would be a concern (but not being in TX I don't know the specific heats in question.... I'm guessing 100's?)...the underground temperature will be more stable than above ground (which may be why the tubers survived while the leaves wilted).
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 2:03 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Unless they're mushy or discoloured or have an unappealing smell, they have my vote of confidence. Enjoy your potatoes :)
posted by hannahlambda at 2:18 PM on August 18, 2012

If the soil is too hot they don't grow, but if the potatoes are healthy there's no reason not to eat them.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:22 PM on August 18, 2012

I have specifically done this, but in NY. It might be that the plant part died off because of the heat? Potatoes stay good for what seems like forever. If they're "gorgeous," dig in! I might cut one or two in half tho, just to make sure you don't cook the thing only to discover its like full of worms or spawning an alien or, you know...something.
posted by nevercalm at 2:52 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I remember watching the Americas Test Kitchen segment on fish & chips -- when they were peeling the potatoes for the chips, some of them were greenish. They said if you were to encounter some green potatoes, that you should be sure to keep at it with the vegetable peeler until the green portion is entirely removed to avoid the toxic compound. So I would say if you do that, and if the potatoes otherwise look, feel, and smell fine, go for it!

Are you sure that these potatoes you found are not new baby tubers spawned by the ones you planted?
posted by fancyoats at 3:21 PM on August 18, 2012

Eat those taters and don't look back.
posted by Scientist at 7:02 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

The best place to store potatoes you're not ready to eat is right where they grew. Eat 'em.
posted by Specklet at 8:48 PM on August 18, 2012

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