In just about any kitchen you’ll likely find a bag of potatoes sitting somewhere under the counter, just waiting to be peeled, boiled, and otherwise cooked.
But if your potatoes end up sprouting and going bad you’ll end up having to throw them out like millions of people always do!
Keeping your potatoes fresh is something that comes with a little practice but it’s well worth it to preserve one of the more nutritious foods in your pantry (especially if they’re sweet potatoes which are far more nutritious and have less anti-nutrients than the regular ones).
Recently a meme has been circulating on the Internet that placing an apple in a bag of potatoes will keep them from sprouting, but is that exactly true? Read on for tips on how to keep your potatoes from sprouting naturally.
Are Sprouted Potatoes Safe to Eat?
Most sources state that sprouted potatoes are safe to eat in moderation.
Still, there is some concern with eating sprouting potatoes too often according to Healthline.com.
When potatoes sprout, two compounds from the ‘glycoalkaloid’ family increase.
These compounds may offer health benefits including blood sugar and cholesterol effects, but not everyone tolerates them the same.
“Excess glycoalkaloid consumption typically leads to vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain,” the website wrote in its section on sproued potatoes.
“When consumed in larger amounts, they can cause low blood pressure, a rapid pulse, fever, headaches, confusion, and in some cases, even death.”
Pregnant women may be the group of people that should be especially careful about eating too many potatoes that have previously been sprouted.
“What’s more, a few small studies suggest that eating sprouted potatoes during pregnancy may increase the risk of birth defects,” Healthline wrote.
“Therefore, pregnant women may particularly benefit from avoiding sprouted potatoes (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).”
How to Prevent Your Potatoes From Sprouting Naturally
The best rules for keeping your potatoes from sprouting are the simple ones, but unfortunately many people end up breaking these rules and see their potatoes go bad quicker than they should!
To best preserve your potatoes do the following:
1. Store them in a dark place- Do not place a bag of potatoes on or around your fruit basket, or leave them exposed on the counter. Potatoes prefer a dark, cool place like under the cabinet preferably 50 degrees or even lower, keep them there!
2. Do not get them wet!- Potatoes that have been exposed to water will rot and/or sprout faster than the dry ones, so be sure to dry them off after you’ve washed them.
Washing them is always a good idea since they are one of the highest pesticide containing foods out there; but of course it’s far better to buy them organic. Unfortunately the organic potato market is not exactly booming right now but with the right purchases we can send a message.
3. Do not store with onions- Onions are capable of making them sprout faster, so avoid this combination at all costs.
4. Do not store with bananas or other fruit!- Storing potatoes near bananas and other fruit can also encourage them to sprout faster. Fruit gives off ethylene gas which can cause the ripening to happen faster.
5. Store in a brown paper bag- This is one of the best ways to keep them cool and dark, as opposed to in the containers that they’re found in at the grocery store or a plastic bag. If they happen to somehow get damp, let them dry off on the counter before cooking and serving.
6. Add dried herbs or essential oils- If you’re serious about stopping potatoes from sprouting you can use dried sage, lavender and/or rosemary herbs in a cotton drawstring (muslin) bag. Research from the University of Idaho also shows that the essential oils of clove, spearmint and peppermint can also prevent potatoes from sprouting.
Does the Apple Trick Work for Preventing Potato Sprouts?
There is a lot of conflicting information about whether placing an apple in a bag of potatoes can prevent them from sprouting early but it seems as though this was based off of experiments in the 1930s.
Recent science suggests otherwise; that the ethylene given off by apples during their ripening process could actually do the opposite and make potatoes sprout faster.
At the end of the day it’s best to follow the tips above and maybe try the apple trick out as a science experiment on a bag of cheap non-organic potatoes to see what happens. One blogger has seen good results with it and there are others out there who have as well, but some skeptics remain.
Final Thoughts on Preventing Your Potatoes from Sprouting
At any rate, following the above tips are your best bets to keep your potatoes from sprouting, along with cooking and using them quickly so you don’t forget about them down there in the dark.
You can also freeze mashed potatoes and other recipes to preserve your food and most of the nutrients. You should try and use them within 1-2 weeks to be safe although these tips can extend that period of freshness.
Be aware that colored potatoes like sweet potatoes, purple potatoes and even redskin potatoes are generally healthier than the original ones because they contain less inflammatory compounds and anti-nutrients.
Bon Appétit, potato lovers!