How to Wash Potatoes: The Best Ways to Do it

Potatoes can also be covered with pesticides and bacteria. Potatoes are one of the dirtiest foods, so it is very important to properly wash root vegetables before cooking and eating them.

Root vegetables such as potatoes are grown in soil, so it is not surprising that some dirt is present during harvest. Potatoes can also be covered in pesticides and bacteria. Knowing this, you shouldn’t skip a thorough scrub for your potatoes before you eat them.

There are many detergents on the market, but no special detergents are needed to wash potatoes.

Why wash potatoes before cooking?

There are several reasons why it is important to wash potatoes before cooking. Potatoes grow deep in the soil, collecting a lot of dirt and coming into contact with fertilizers that cover the outer skin. Conventional potato crops are usually sprayed with pesticides to protect them from weeds and insects.

They may also contain bacteria from other people that have been on the potatoes during transportation from the farm to the grocery store or to your kitchen.

Even if you discard the peel, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends washing the outside of your vegetables. This is because the germs and debris on the potato skin can get inside the potato when it is cut.

How to wash potatoes

There are several different types of potatoes, and they should all be washed in the same way.

The only equipment needed to rinse potatoes includes water and an extra vegetable brush. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, washing potatoes with detergents, soap, or vegetable peelers is neither necessary nor recommended. Potatoes should only be washed immediately before cooking.

According to the FDA, follow these steps to thoroughly wash potatoes before peeling, slicing, cooking, and eating them:

Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap. Make sure all surfaces and utensils are clean and sanitized to avoid cross-contamination. Wash the potatoes under warm tap water to remove dirt and germs.

Use a vegetable brush to scrub the potatoes to remove any dirt stuck to the potato shell. Optional: If soaking, place the potatoes in a clean bowl filled with warm tap water for 20 minutes or less.

Rinse the potatoes under running water to remove any remaining dirt and debris. Pat dry with a paper or clean kitchen towel. After washing the potatoes, be sure to remove any green, sprouted, or wrinkled parts with a clean and sanitized knife. Peeling the potato peel is optional and left to your discretion.

Although most of the potato’s nutrients are stored in the skin, it is also home to most dirt and bacteria. Washing the potatoes thoroughly is especially important if you intend to eat the skin.

How to choose potatoes

When choosing a potato, look for a smooth surface with no “eyes,” discoloration, or cuts, as recommended by North Dakota State University. These imperfections affect the quality of the potato. The potatoes should be firm to the touch – a little softness is okay, but you should avoid soft and wrinkled potatoes.

Some types of potatoes may have a green tint or show signs of sprouting on the outside. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the skin of green potatoes has a bitter taste and can be harmful if eaten in large quantities.

Simply cut off the green or sprouted skin and cook the rest of the potato as you normally would. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, if the potato is green under the skin, throw it away.

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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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