Notice a few “eyes” growing on your pantry stock of potatoes? Here’s what you need to know. 

By David McCann
April 13, 2020
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Please forgive me—I do not mean to get all Nanny on you. But, this is not the time to be throwing out produce. Obviously, the less we venture out to the store, the better. So I think we need to pay attention to things that remain usable, even if they may, at first, appear “past their prime.”

I’m thinking about these things specifically because a question was recently brought to my attention: “Can I still, safely, use a potato that has sprouted?”

The simplest answer to that is yes. A potato that has sprouted is perfectly safe to eat. All you need to do is cut out the sprout, and any nearby flesh that looks discolored. And unless the “sprout” is more like an entire plant, there should be very little loss of flavor and texture.

The same is true for small bruises, cuts, and discolorations. Just cut, or peel until you remove them.

There are a few conditions under which  you need to rethink using a potato.

  1.  If the skin is excessively wrinkled—toss it.
  2. If the flesh is very soft and squishy—toss it.
  3. And if, God forbid, it smells—toss it and take it outside. A rotten potato is not something you want to smell in your house… ever!

Potatoes don’t need a ton of care, storage-wise. Just keep them fairly cool, dry, and out of the sunlight. If you happen to have a dark place, that will also extend their “usability window.”

And to address what many believe to be an old wives tale: What do I do if I start to peel a potato and there's a bit of a green tint to the flesh under the peel? Without delving too far into the science, that green is not a good sign. It’s indicating that solanine is developing in the potato. And solanine is not a good thing to ingest. Now, you’d really have to eat A LOT of the green flesh to be seriously affected. So, if it’s just a bit, you can peel it away, taste the potato, and if it doesn’t taste bitter, use it. I will sometimes do just that. But to be 100% safe, eating green potatoes is not the best idea, and I’d suggest tossing them.