sprouted potatoes
July 21, 2006 6:50 AM   Subscribe

So I bought this big (5 kg) sack of cheap potatoes, ate a few, and then left them for a few days. When I looked at them today, they'd all grown little green sprouts. If I remove the sprouts, are these potatoes safe to eat?

I tried Google, but answers seemed to range from "throw them away" through to "it won't kill you" and "it's fine if you remove the sprouts". So will I be alright?
posted by reklaw to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

"Potatoes that are not green and have had any sprouts removed are safe to eat."
posted by jckll at 6:53 AM on July 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

Brush the potatos first with a brush that's stiff enough to remove the sprouts, but not the skin. Then 'spot' the potato; remove all of the spots where there are eyes and the bases of the sprouts. Then peel the potato and remove any other discolored areas.

I wouldn't eat a potato in the peel that's had sprouts.
posted by SpecialK at 6:54 AM on July 21, 2006

Not to rain on SpecialK's parade, but I've been eating potratos that sprouted for years with no ill effects. Just remove the sprouts and the base of the eyes....no need to peel.
posted by cosmicbandito at 6:56 AM on July 21, 2006

Response by poster: Oh yeah, another thing: why did my potatoes sprout so quickly to begin with? Is it because they were such cheap ones, or because I stored them wrongly, or maybe the freakish hot weather we've been having here in London, or something else?
posted by reklaw at 6:58 AM on July 21, 2006

They're fine. Cheap potatoes sometimes do that. If they're soft as well, you might want to be a bit zealous in your peeling, but othewise just cut off the green bits and you're ready to go. Chances are that the reason they were cheap is 'cause they're a bit old. If you've got tons of them, cook them up in a curry or something and freeze them, otherwise they'll just sprout more and more.
posted by handee at 7:01 AM on July 21, 2006

I'm with cosmicbandito...I eat potatoes with sprouted bits all the time. Just pull off the sprout, the rest depends on how fussy you are. (In fact, I'm pretty sure the sprout would be ok too).

On the potato poison thing: I ate greeny coloured potatoes for years before hearing about that. I can confidently say that not all green-coloured potato is poisonous. (I have no idea what proportion actually is, though).

On preview: I don't know, I always thought that maybe some potatoes are just closer to sprouting when they get to the shop. On the other hand, maybe the heat, especially if it's more humid than usual?
posted by jacalata at 7:02 AM on July 21, 2006

I'd go with hot weather and humidity. You should always store potatoes in a cool and dark area of the kitchen (underneath the sink is quite common).

The sprouts are fine. Just brush them off, give the bastards a mean scrub and then I highly recommend this recipe.
posted by purephase at 7:05 AM on July 21, 2006

I've eaten sprouty potatoes for years. Take them off, no harm. I've also eaten green-coloured potatoes for years and never until recently have I ever heard that it might be dangerous.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 7:05 AM on July 21, 2006

Read this about sprouted and green potatoes, and how to store them to avoid these problems. Green potatoes are SLIGHTLY toxic, and the worst that will happen is you'll feel a little sick. It's never happened to me and I've eaten plenty of green potatoes!
posted by peep at 8:10 AM on July 21, 2006

Just a guess, as IANAR (I Am Not A Restaurateur), but something tells me that restaurants don't dispose of potatoes just because they've started to sprout. And I've never heard of anyone getting poisoned by going out and eating sprouted french fries.

"You see, ma'am, it was the potatoes that got him. That's right, they'd started sprouting."
posted by BaxterG4 at 8:14 AM on July 21, 2006

Plant them eyes, I bet you'll get some more potato's for the planting.
posted by sgobbare at 8:24 AM on July 21, 2006

My mom says just cut 'em out, and you'll be fine.
posted by Rash at 8:31 AM on July 21, 2006

I'll add my voice to the chorus of: I did it for years and there was never any problem.

But also to add that these types of questions are perfect for Ask.Me. In general, googling on the Internet for many things with any sort of variability or tiny tiny risk will get you the most conservative answers:

-Yes, that spot on your skin is the beginning of cancer
- Yes, forgetting small things means you are developing Alzheimer's
- Yes, if you left that food outside the fridge for more than an hour, you will die of food poisoning.

I've never quite figured out why this is - but my best guess is that people with horrid tales are more likely to write it up and post it on the Internet. The short tale of "I was fine!" is not as compelling. And thus, the statistics of Google do not mirror real-life. Places like Ask.Me do better in that regard.
posted by vacapinta at 9:38 AM on July 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

AskMe: My mom says just cut 'em out, and you'll be fine.

Also, I agree that I would stay away from the skin -- don't make baked potatoes, for example.
posted by The Bellman at 9:49 AM on July 21, 2006

Googling around on this, I was amused to read a suggestion that organic potatoes have more of the poison than other types -- it is a natural defence, after all.

The green itself isn't poisonous, but areas that have been exposed to light both grow the green (chlorophyll) and produce poison (solanine). The poison is to protect against pests, so is concentrated in the skin, and will almost all be peeled away with it. The growing shoots also have a good dose, so discard them.

The poison is bitter, so that gives an indication of whether you are getting too much. I read lots of warnings, but didn't find a story of any actual harm, apart from an old one from Ireland where potatoes were a staple food and potato blight could actually have increased the amount of poison.
posted by Idcoytco at 10:41 AM on July 21, 2006

so, what if they said potatoes are soft as well?? Not mushy and malleable, but noticeably soft when you grab them. Personally, I've always tossed the soft ones out and haven't cared about the sprouted ones. Am I off base here?
posted by premortem at 10:42 AM on July 21, 2006

Response by poster: Well, I've eaten one of my sprouted potatoes now (removed the sprouts first, obviously). If I die, it's all AskMe's fault...
posted by reklaw at 10:44 AM on July 21, 2006

Soft potatoes are old and are nearing the point where they go from potato to a smelly mass of nastiness that makes Baby Jesus cry. Soft potatoes also can taste funny as they approach the nasty stage.

Throw out the soft ones, especially if they smell kinda vinegary and less earthy.
posted by onhazier at 11:11 AM on July 21, 2006

The potatoes sprouted when they were still in the ground before they were harvested! That sprouting didn't hurt them, so this one's probably fine too.
posted by mendel at 11:31 AM on July 21, 2006

Oh, my God!


Sorry. :-)
posted by WCityMike at 11:19 AM on July 22, 2006

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