When potatoes sprout, many are unsure whether they can still be eaten. Here is when it is better to refrain from eating them.
Sprouting potatoes are not uncommon in vegetable storage. If the tubers are left for a longer period of time after the potato harvest, they form sprouts over time to a greater or lesser extent. In spring, pre-sprouting of seed potatoes is desirable in order to enjoy the tubers more quickly, but what about when the potatoes, which are intended for consumption, germinate? Here is what whether or not they can still be eaten.
Sprouted potatoes: what you need to know
What is problematic about sprouted potatoes?
Like tomatoes and eggplants, potatoes belong to the nightshade family (Solanaceae), which form toxic alkaloids, including solanine in particular, as a natural protection against predators. The toxin is not only present in greater amounts in unripe, green tomatoes: Heat-resistant solanine is also present in higher concentrations in spots that have turned green, the skin and sprouts of potatoes, and the eyes, the starting points of the sprouts. There is also a change in taste: the increased solanine content makes sprouting potatoes bitter. If very large quantities are nevertheless eaten, symptoms of poisoning such as a burning sensation in the throat and stomach or intestinal complaints may occur.
Are sprouting potatoes still edible?
Whether sprouted potatoes can still be eaten depends on how far the sprouting process has progressed. The solanine is only harmful to health if it is ingested in large quantities. If the sprouts are only a few centimeters long and the tubers are still quite firm, you can still eat the potatoes without hesitation. Remove the skin, cut out the sprouts generously and also remove small green spots, this will significantly reduce the solanine content. Children in particular are advised to eat only peeled potatoes, they are often more sensitive than adults to the possible toxins. If sprouts have already formed, which are longer than a finger and the tubers are very wrinkly, you should no longer prepare the potatoes. Large green potatoes are also not suitable for consumption.
Boiling the potatoes does not destroy the solanine, but some of it passes into the cooking water. You should therefore not continue to use it.
How to prevent potatoes from sprouting?
To prevent the tubers from germinating prematurely, you need to store potatoes properly. After harvesting, the vegetable has a natural inhibition of germination, which degrades within five to ten weeks, depending on the ambient temperature. After that, table potatoes must be stored below 5 °C / 41 °F to prevent them from sprouting prematurely. For storage, a potato box has proven itself, which is placed in an unheated and frost-free, airy cellar. In addition to temperature, exposure to light also plays a key role in germination: It is important that the potatoes are stored in absolute darkness. In addition, they should be located separately from apples: The fruit emits the ripening gas ethylene and thus promotes sprouting.