Baked, broiled, mashed or smashed, potatoes are unrivaled when it comes to rounding out a meal –and practically every meal, too. Potatoes are both hearty and hardy, but their rugged appearance may be a bit misleading. In reality, they can bruise as easily as apples or bananas. Cooks often don’t discover the ensuing brown spots until after they’ve sliced into a potato. But this is no lost cause – at least not yet. You can take some steps to salvage brown, raw potatoes while following sensible kitchen safety practices.
Keep Your Eye on Brown Spots
Inspect the potato for dark spots before scrubbing it clean. Focus on areas of broken skin, as this is where black spots are most likely to occur. Some spots hover below the skin and so will be visible only after the potato is cut open. Black spots usually occur if a potato has been stored in a cold place, if it has been dropped or if something heavy lands on top of it.
Trim right around and cut out any black spots in the potato before cooking it. Discard these pieces. The rest of the potato is still safe to eat. While you have your paring knife in hand, remove any “eyes,” green spots or other blemishes, too. Throw out a potato that is more than half green, which signals that it contains solanine, a form of plant poison that can be dangerous in even small amounts.
Submerge your peeled or cut-up potato in a bowl of cold water. The cold water will prevent the potato from discoloring, which happens when a raw potato is exposed to air. Try to limit the soaking time to two hours so that the potato retains its natural nutrients and vitamins.
Play it Safe with Spuds
Avoid the temptation to wash dusty potatoes before storing them. Moisture can cause potatoes to decay.
Store your potatoes in a cool, dark place. A basement or cellar in which temperatures hover at about 50 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. Potatoes will keep for about a week at room temperature and for several weeks at temperatures between 45 and 50 F.
Keep your potatoes out of direct light, including sunlight and artificial and fluorescent light, which can cause potatoes to turn green. A faint trace of green on a potato is safe. Just cut away at these small areas, just as you would for brown areas on a potato. Prolonged exposure to light will eventually infiltrate a potato, rendering it very bitter and potentially unsafe to eat.
- National Potato Council: Nutrition Information
- Idaho Potato Commission: Frequently Asked Questions
- National Institutes of Health: Potato Plant Poisoning - Green Tubers and Sprouts
- Recipe Tips: All About Potatoes
- Goodness Unearthed: How to Cook Potatoes
- My Recipes: Is There Any Way I Can Peel Potatoes in Advance and Keep Them From Turning Brown?
- Eat By Date: Shelf Life of Potatoes
- Produce Oasis: Types of Potatoes
- Potatoes can be finicky, so be sure to follow smart storage procedures. Potatoes can shrivel and sprout under the intensity of high temperatures while the starch may turn to sugar in the refrigerator. This change results in a sweeter potato, but one that can also quickly darken under high cooking temperatures.
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