What Does It Mean If Potatoes Are Green?

Are green potatoes safe to eat?
Are green potatoes safe to eat?

What Do I Do When My Potatoes Are Green?

Have you ever noticed one or more of your potatoes having a slight green tinge to it, or discovered that a normal-looking potato had a strange green colour when you started to peel it?

If you have, you probably recall being surprised, disgusted, or just plain confused. What do you do with a green potato?

Can you still eat them? Should you throw them away? Do you remove the green part and eat the rest? Are they even safe to eat?

These are perfectly normal questions that any conscientious cook will ask of their food. Look no further because I have answers for you and yes, the potatoes are probably safe to eat (after peeling), though many people still recommend throwing the entire thing away.

Potatoes that turned green as a result of exposure to light.
Potatoes that turned green as a result of exposure to light. | Source

Why Do Potatoes Become Green?

Potatoes become green when they are exposed to light. This can happen after the potatoes are purchased if they are stored in the presence of natural or artificial light, or while they're growing if the soil lets any sunlight through to the potato underground.

When the potato is exposed to sunlight, it produces chlorophyll which in itself is not toxic to us, though it does turn the potato green.

However, when the potatoes are further exposed to light they continue production of a substance called solanine which is toxic when consumed in large quantities. Usually solanine is found in and around the skin of the potato.

While the cause of the green color (chlorophyll) is not dangerous, it does indicate the increased presence of solanine.

What Do I Do with a Green Potato?

If you have some potatoes that have turned green, it's recommended that you peel or cut off the green part of the potato and use the rest of it.

Though you'd have to eat a lot of green potatoes to get sick from the solanine, it's better to not tempt fate.

After removing the green part of the potato, you should be good to go! Cook with them normally.


How to Store Potatoes and Prevent Them from Turning Green

It's easy to keep your potatoes from turning green. Just make sure to store them away from any kind of light, both natural and artificial.

Here are some tips:

  • Store your potatoes in a dark, cool place; keeping light off of them will help them stay good for longer
  • Keep your potatoes in opaque bags, preferring paper or cloth bags to plastic (which can trap moisture)
  • Do not refrigerate potatoes, since that can adversely affect flavor

Bonus Section: Potato Types Galore! What's Your Type?

There are many varieties of the humble potato. What is your favorite?

  • Bintje: This is a Dutch national variety of potato that has creamy white skin and yellow, almost waxy flesh. It is suitable for boiling, roasting, and mashing. It also makes a great choice for a classic potato salad!
  • Coliban: This potato is white with smooth skin and floury flesh. It is best enjoyed when baked or steamed.
  • Desiree: This variety has pink or purple skin which can vary depending on the soil and climate where it is grown. The flesh of desiree potatoes is golden and they can be enjoyed boiled, mashed, or baked. Just like the Bintje, they are great in potato salads.
  • Kipfler: This potato does not have a typical shape. It is long and not as round as most common potatoes. Often quite small, kipfler potatoes are lovely steamed or boiled and keep their shape well.
  • Nicola: If you are looking to make gnocchi, this is the perfect potato choice. It has creamy skin and maintains a firm texture when cooked.
  • Pontiac: The pontiac potato has red skin with white flesh and is great for making chips.
  • Sebago: This variety works well in all situations. It has creamy skin and white flesh.

What do you do with green potatoes?

  • Throw them away without question
  • Cut off the green part and eat the rest
  • Eat it - it won't hurt me
  • Never seen a green potato
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