While potatoes tend to store well, they don’t last forever. In fact, sometimes they can last for one week to a few months. This depends on how they are stored. But you may have found potatoes with sprouts forming from “eyes”. They are not very appealing but are the potatoes still edible? Here are some signs of spoilage versus a fresh potato.
Can You Eat Sprouted Potatoes?
The truth of the matter, there are contradicting opinions on whether sprouted potatoes are safe to eat. One thing is unanimous: Do not eat the sprouts!
Potatoes are a natural source of glycoalkaloid compounds, which are also found in tomatoes and eggplants. In small amounts, glycoalkaloids are healthy and beneficial, since they have antibiotic properties and can help lower blood sugar and cholesterol. However, glycoalkaloids are toxic when consumed in excess.
When potatoes begin to sprout, their glycoalkaloid compounds increase as well. Therefore, people who eat these potatoes can exhibit symptoms within a few hours up to a day after consuming them. These symptoms can include abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Larger quantities of glycoalkaloids can cause low blood pressure, headaches, confusion, a rapid pulse, fever, and sometimes death. Some studies also show that eating these potatoes during pregnancy could increase the risk of birth defects.
If you have ever peeled a sprouted potato, you may notice damage, greening, and a bitter taste. All of these are signs of a higher glycoalkaloid amount. Therefore, removing the sprouts, bruised areas, and green parts can reduce the risk of ingesting too many glycoalkaloids. In fact, peeling and frying such potatoes may help reduce the levels. Plus, newly sprouted potatoes may be safer to eat than ones with longer and more developed sprouts.
Still, it’s unclear if removing the skin and green areas is enough to protect against toxicity. Therefore, Poison Control encourages people to toss green or sprouted potatoes.
Other Signs of a Spoilage
A fresh raw potato should be firm with tight skin with no large bruises or black spots. If a potato feels soft and mushy, toss it immediately. Additionally, if you can smell a moldy or musty odor, that’s another sign of spoilage.
Some potatoes look fine from the outside, but once you cut into them, you find damaged or moldy areas. Therefore, if you smell something mold-like from an otherwise good-looking potato, it’s a sign the inside has rotted. And any potato with a moldy or foul scent should be thrown out.
Potato eyes are harmless since they are small bumps where the vegetable stems out and sprouts new plants. Since they are also where sprouts begin to grow, it may be fruitful to keep an eye on them.
How to Best Store Potatoes
Potatoes thrive best in a cool, dark, well-ventilated space, such as in a bin and not a sealed container. But if they are stored at room temperature, they should be eaten within one to two weeks.
Additionally, ensure the potatoes are completely dry. Dampness can make them spoil quickly. Only wash them before cooking. Plus, don’t keep them in the fridge or the freezer. And keep on the lookout for spoiled potatoes and remove them from the rest of the bunch.
Also, keep the potatoes separate from other produce. Ripening fruits and vegetables like bananas, apples, tomatoes, and onions release ethylene, which can make the potatoes soften and sprout faster.
Other Long-Lasting Fruits and Vegetables
Potatoes aren’t the only raw produce that can last longer if stored right. And good thing, since it’s heartbreaking to have to throw out something like lettuce or herbs because they weren’t eaten soon enough. Here are some examples to add to your grocery list:
- Apples: At room temperature, fresh apples can last up to four weeks. And in the fridge, they can last up to two months. But look out for wrinkled skin and mushy insides; that’s a sign of a bad apple.
- Cabbage: This vegetable is extremely versatile, from soups to coleslaws. And a head can last up to two months in the fridge. Just make sure there are no bruises, don’t wash it until use, and keep it in the hydrator drawer if possible.
- Limes and lemons: These tend to last a couple of weeks on the counter and a couple of months in the fridge. But remember, once they are sliced, they will only last a few days in the fridge.
- Onions: At room temperature, they can last about a month. And they last even longer in a dark, dry, and well-ventilated space. But once they are peeled, they spoil faster, in about a week. If an onion has gone bad, they will turn brown or black or soft.
- Carrots: Fresh carrots can last around four to five weeks, but baby carrots last about four. Store them in the fridge with their peels on in a plastic bag or in the crisper drawer. White spots are a sign of dryness that can still be eaten. But if they turn mushy, toss ‘em out.