Is It OK to Eat Sprouted Potatoes?

Here’s how to handle potatoes with "eyes."

April 03, 2020
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Close-up of seed potatoes spilling out of a paper bag onto a white background

Photo by: Jenny Dettrick

Jenny Dettrick

By Leah Brickley for Food Network Kitchen

The short answer is yes. Potatoes that have sprouted are still OK to eat, but only once you’ve removed the sprouts. Here's a guide on how to remove them, how to properly store potatoes and when it’s not alright to eat them.

Why do potatoes sprout?

Potatoes don’t need dirt — sometimes storage conditions inspire your spuds to start sprouting far from the ground! All they need is darkness and moisture — making your kitchen or pantry an ideal place to start growing "eyes." But these extra appendages don’t mean you have to trash your taters — if they are still firm when you squeeze them, the potatoes can be eaten — once you’ve removed the sprouts and cooked the potatoes.

How to use a peeler to remove sprouts

Plucking off the sprouts is easy because your vegetable peeler has a secret: Whether it’s old-school or Y-shaped, it was built to remove sprouts and brown spots. Use the intentional scoop-shaped tip of a regular peeler to dig out sprouts. Or the plastic tab on the side of your Y peeler to do the same.

So, what's happening when potatoes turn green?

Bottom line: green = garbage can. Exposure to light puts potatoes into chlorophyll-making (a green pigment) overdrive. But chlorophyll isn't the problem: These sunny conditions also make it possible for opportunistic glycoalkaloid toxins to thrive, which are dangerous.

What's the best way to store potatoes?

Potatoes will keep up to 2 months from purchase if stored correctly. Transfer them to a breathable bag — like paper or mesh — or put them in a cardboard box and stash in a cool, dry place. A basement is ideal. Your kitchen and pantry are probably too warm, which will make them start to sprout.

Don’t store potatoes in the fridge: Those extra-cool conditions will trigger their starches to convert to sugars, which means sweeter potatoes (no, not sweet potatoes!) that will turn brown when cooked.

To Summarize

Stop:

Do NOT eat if your taters are:

  • Soft, squishy or wrinkly
  • Greenish in color on the outside or under the skin
  • Rotten and/or smelly

Go:

You're clear to prep, cook and eat if those potatoes are:

  • Firm when squeezed
  • Normally colored, with no greenish tint
  • Sprouted — simply dig out the sprouts with a peeler

Get Cooking:

Almost every way to enjoy a potato:

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