Why Old Potatoes are Dangerous: You Need to Follow 3 Rules to Avoid Poisoning

If potatoes start sprouting, eating them becomes dangerous to your health. To avoid poisoning, you need to know how to cook sprouted potatoes.

Even if the cellar in which the potatoes are stored is well-equipped, the roots can still sprout by early March. If you store your crops in a pantry or on a closed balcony, you may face this problem as early as February. And then the question logically arises as to what to do if the potatoes have sprouted.

Many people consider such potatoes to be harmful and are afraid to eat them. This fear is partially justified because sprouted potatoes contain a large amount of a substance called solanine, which can be harmful to health. However, this does not mean that you cannot cook potatoes if they have sprouted. You just need to cook them properly. After proper processing, this product can be safe.

So, let’s figure out what to do if the potatoes have sprouted too much.

The level of the toxic substance solanine increases significantly in sprouted potatoes. This substance is also found in freshly dug potatoes, but there is very little of it – from 2 to 10 mg per 100 g of product. In this amount, it can’t do much harm to the body. At the same time, fresh potatoes contain a lot of vitamins and nutrients, so eating them will only be beneficial.

But potatoes stored in the winter have a sharp decrease in vitamins starting in January, while the level of solanine increases. This toxic substance tends to accumulate more and more during the shelf life of the product.

Most of this substance is found near the skin of the potato and around the places where the sprouts grow – 80-90% of the solanine contained in the entire potato is collected there.

Can I cook potatoes if they have sprouted?

Solanine notwithstanding, the answer to this question is still yes. Sprouted potatoes can be consumed, but they need to be handled properly. What does this mean?

  1.  First of all, when peeling, you need to cut off the thickest layer of the peel – about 2-3 mm – to get rid of the places with the highest content of the toxic substance.
  2. In addition, you need to cut out the places from which the sprouts grow well with a knife. The sprouts themselves are also very toxic.
  3. Also, remember that the places where the potatoes have turned green are very toxic due to their solanine content.

If you follow these rules, you can eat sprouted potatoes in moderation. But you should also keep in mind that this product contains much fewer vitamins and nutrients in winter than in summer.

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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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