Not sure whether to keep or toss the potatoes you bought from the grocery store last week? Learn some tips and tricks to help you with your internal debate!
Potatoes are a food that we sometimes buy and forget about.
They don't go in the fridge. So they could end up in a place we don't look often. I am sure most of us have forgotten about a potato.
In the interest of reducing food waste, we are here to help you navigate potential issues with potatoes you may run into.
Keep in mind these are my best recommendations, it's up to you to make the final call. If you don't feel comfortable with saving something then I would rather you error on the side of caution.
The Skin is Green
When the skins of potatoes are exposed to light, they turn green. The colorization is most commonly seen on light skinned potatoes like Russet or gold potatoes. It's not seen as much on red or purple skinned potatoes.
When potatoes are grown it is common practice to cover the potatoes with more dirt as they grow as that they aren't exposed to light.
I have worked at two different grocery stores. Both places would cover up the potatoes when the store closed in order to reduce the amount of time the potatoes got light on them, even the lights of the store could turn them green.
What do you do when the skins of your potatoes are starting to go green?
This is a tough call. The green in the skin could mean the presence of a toxin. Some of it may be removed if you peel them. I admit I have peeled the skin of potatoes that were just barely a hint of green. Those potatoes tasted totally fine. I have heard that if they taste bitter at all, that you definitely need to stop eating them.
With that being said I can't recommend you keep them out of caution.
Recommendation - Toss
If are struggling with potatoes going green on you too fast, try to stick to potatoes with a darker skin. And make sure the ones you buy at the store don't have any green on them at all when purchasing. Give the a good look over, especially if in a bag.
Eyes are Growing
When I am growing potatoes myself I love to see them sprout. The more the better. But not when I am trying to just at them.
Potatoes are often treated with something to keep them from sprouting eyes in the grocery store. But even that won't completely stop them from growing eyes, just inhibits them.
In the early stages, you can simply remove the sprouts and eat the potatoes.
Recommendation - Keep them, as long as the potatoes aren't wrinkly or super soft
Potatoes Feel Soft
As potatoes age they will start to feel softer. This is ok to a point.
You don't want them to be mushy, that's too soft. But a little softness isn't the end of the world, it's just means your time to enjoy the potatoes is coming to an end, so cook them immediately.
Recommendation - Keep, use immediately
I don't think potatoes ever smell good. They have a more earthy type of smell. Not offensive but not something you want to fill the room with.
If your potatoes have a really bad odor. Then it's over. Trust me you will know. I was quite surprised how bad a potato can smell when it's gone south.
For weeks we couldn't find the source of a bad smell in our van. It turned out to be a potato that had rolled under a seat. Yuck!
Recommendation - Toss if smell is really strong
Most of the time when I see a potato go wrinkly it has already grown eyes. The potato will also be really soft at this point.
Recommendation - Toss
Can You Refrigerate Potatoes to Keep Them Longer?
You could and it would help keep them longer. However when potatoes get cold their starches covert to sugar, creating a sweet taste that I really don't find very pleasant.
Potatoes are best stored in a dry, dark place that is cool, but not as cold as the fridge, so around 45-55 degrees.
One of the produce markets I worked for had a cooler that was set to that temperature. It was the same place we kept hard squashes as well.
An old fashion root cellar is perfect, but most of us don't have that anymore. If you can dedicate a drawer in your kitchen to storing potatoes by themselves. Don't store them with onions, this cold cause them prematurely go bad.
What About Fingerlings?
All the above recommendations apply to fingerling potatoes as well. Sweet potatoes are a whole different thing that we will have to save for another time.
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