Barely bought, and already the potatoes are sprouting. We reveal when you can still eat them without hesitation and when there is a risk of poisoning.

The annoyance of quickly sprouting potatoes is familiar especially to those who do not have a cellar. If not stored properly, the nightshade plant develops eyes faster than you can use it up. The problem with the sprouts is that they are signs of a toxic ingredient in the potato that can cause serious physical ailments in humans. But does that mean you have to throw away sprouting potatoes right away? Not in every case. Here’s when you can eat sprouting potatoes and when you should discard them.

In these cases sprouting potatoes are poisonous

When potatoes sprout, they produce solanine. This actually serves the plant as a defense against pests, but in larger quantities it also harms us humans. Thus, eating potatoes that germinate heavily can cause the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramps
  • Shortness of breath

When can I eat sprouting potatoes?

As long as the eyes have not yet grown too large, you can usually still eat sprouting potatoes. Make sure to cut out the sprouts generously before cooking and also remove any green parts thoroughly. As a rule of thumb, potatoes are still edible as long as the sprouts are no more than 0.5 inch long. Because the solanine is mainly found in the potato skin, you should always peel sprouting potatoes and not prepare boiled potatoes.

Children should not eat sprouting potatoes

While sprouting potatoes with isolated and still short growths are no problem for adults, children should not eat sprouting potatoes on principle. Due to their low body weight, they already react to smaller amounts of the toxic substance solanine. Since the highest concentration of solanine is found in the skin of potatoes, you should always peel potatoes when serving them to babies and young children.

How to avoid sprouting potatoes

Sprouting potatoes can be significantly delayed by proper storage. The nightshade plant likes it (as the name suggests) cool, dark and dry. If this is taken into account during storage, potatoes remain fresh for up to several weeks longer. Since solanine forms when exposed to light, potatoes will last longest if you store them in a dark drawer or burlap bag. Also, if possible, don’t store them at room temperature; 42-46°F is optimal for potatoes.