Discovering that your potatoes have sprouted when you're in the middle of making lunch is frustrating on a good day. Should you run to the store for more? Should you eat them anyway? Should you just give up and order a pizza?
When It Is Safe to Eat a Sprouted Potato
The good news is that potatoes are safe to eat even after they've sprouted, so long as they are still firm to the touch and they don't look too wrinkly and shriveled.
Most of the nutrients are still intact in a firm sprouted potato. You can simply remove the sprouts from a firm potato and continue on with your recipe. There's no need to change your dinner plans.
As a potato sprouts, it converts starch to sugar to feed the new potato plant that will grow from the erupting sprouts. At the beginning of this process, you may find soft spots around what used to be the eyes and are now the sprouts. Just remove the sprouts and any soft spots at this point and your potato should be fine. Read below AgroWeb.org facts about the consumption of Sprouted Potato.
When Not to Eat a Sprouted Potato
As the sprouting process progresses, the potato begins to shrivel as more and more starch is converted to sugar and used in the growing sprouts. A wrinkled, shriveled sprouted potato will have lost more of its nutrients and had starches converted into sugars. It won't be palatable and your recipes won't turn out the same.
But What About Toxins in the Potato Sprouts
Solanine and other glycoalkaloids are present in potato plants and in the eyes and the sprout growth of a potato tuber.
They are toxic and can give you a headache, vomiting and other digestive symptoms if you eat enough of them. This is why you want to remove the sprouts and eyes before you eat the potato. Solanine is concentrated in the eyes, sprouts and skin and not the rest of the potato. So long as you remove these, you are unlikely to feel its effects.
If your potato has a green skin, that is caused by exposure to light and it is producing chlorophyll and solanine. Green potatoes should be peeled and the peels discarded before using them for cooking and eating.
How to Keep Potatoes from Sprouting
Potatoes need to be kept in a cool spot (10-12 degrees is ideal), and they need to be kept away from sunlight. That means your kitchen (while convenient) may not be the ideal place to store them. If you have a basement or a cellar that isn't climate controlled, that's probably the best place for them.
Because potatoes are 80% water, they do best in a humid environment. But just like any other fruit or vegetable, they will rot is they become wet. AgroWeb.org suggest to transfer your potatoes to a breathable container when you get them home from the store (or after you bring them in from your garden). A paper bag or a basket works well for this. Just roll up the bag or drape a piece of newspaper or cloth over the basket to keep the sunlight out.
Also, be sure to keep your potatoes away from appliances (they put off a lot of heat) and other types of fruits and vegetables. Those storage bins that are designed to hold potatoes and onions are a bad idea because they'll cause both vegetables to go bad faster. Maybe that's why you always see them at yard sales.
Can You Refrigerate Potatoes?
While refrigerating potatoes will keep them from sprouting, you'll just be trading one problem for two more. The too-cold temperature causes potato starch to convert to sugar (resulting in strangely sweet potatoes), and it also causes them to take on an unappetizing greyish-brown color when they're cooked. So, save some fridge space, and store your potatoes elsewhere./AgroWeb.org