What to Do with Green Potatoes & How to Prevent This in the Future

When I harvested my potato crop just a week ago, I was dismayed to find that some of them had been shredded – probably, by hungry little rodents.

This is something that is always very frustrating for me to deal with. Unfortunately, that’s just part of having a garden. You’re going to have the occasional pest, and you need to do your best to learn from your mistakes next year.

If that’s the biggest problem with my potatoes this year, I’ll be happy. I’ve had some years where my entire crop turns green, either after I get a chance to harvest them or after storage.

There are a few reasons why potatoes are green – but if you’re wondering what to do with green potatoes, you’re not alone. Here are some options – as well as some tips to prevent this tragedy from happening in the future.

Why do potatoes turn green?

Potatoes can turn green for a number of reasons.

More often than not, they turn green when they are not stored properly and get some kind of light in the process. If you leave potatoes on your kitchen counter, they will turn green in a matter of weeks.

Potatoes turn green because they make chlorophyll — not necessarily harmful in itself. However, it also indicates the presence of toxins.

You may have noticed that your potatoes turn green even before they have a chance to cut them. This is because, again, they were exposed to too much light. If it was extremely hot or sunny weather or you forgot to move your potatoes, that’s probably the reason.

Planting potatoes too close together can also turn them green because it pushes them up from the soil as they compete for space.

Can you eat green potatoes?

What to Do with Green Potatoes & How to Prevent This in the Future

Now that you know why potatoes turn green, you may be wondering if they are safe to eat.

1. Chlorophyll Production vs. Solanine

Here’s the bad news – green potatoes are poisonous. When a potato is exposed to light, the skin will turn green, indicating the presence of the pigment chlorophyll. The plant is trying to cut the light, hence the chlorophyll.

Chlorophyll is tasteless and not dangerous, the chlorophyll present in the green part of the potato is not a problem.

The issue lies in the fact that “greenness” indicates another chemical secret – a substance called solanine.

Solanine is a naturally occurring toxic substance in potatoes and related plants. It helps ward off animals and insects and is found in all parts of the plant, including roots, shoots, flowers, fruits and leaves.

2. Effects of Solanine

When ingested, solanine is very bitter and unpleasant-tasting. It can cause abdominal symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting. Death and extreme illness have also been reported in some cases.

Luckily you shouldn’t be too concerned, because you need a lot of solanine to make you sick. You just have to eat more than one potato to feel the effects. So if you accidentally eat a small piece of green potato without realizing it, most likely you will not have any problems. One study found that a 100lbs person would have to eat a pound of whole green potatoes to get sick.

The big problem you’ll have, however, is that one bite will taste downright awful.

Green potatoes are not good to eat. They’ll taste bitter and unpleasant, which will likely put you off eating the rest of the potato.

You probably won’t eat enough green potatoes to suffer from any problems. However, it is important to note that the sprouts that appear on potato plants also contain high levels of solanine. Its purpose is to protect the developing plant and provide a new supply of solanine to the developing plant.

So, even if your potatoes aren’t green, it’s a good idea to remove any sprouts you find for consuming or cooking.

Here’s another fun fact – potatoes can increase solanine even when they’re not green. If they are damaged, diseased, stored under very hot temperatures, or even experience spring frost during their growth, they can become high in solanine and taste bitter.

what to do with green potatoes

What to Do with Green Potatoes & How to Prevent This in the Future

Whether you’ve just harvested a bunch of green potatoes and aren’t sure what to do with them or stumbled upon a batch in your root cellar, here are some ways you can use up your green potatoes. .

1. Cook and Eat Them

In many cases, you can still eat potatoes cooked normally.

However, the key here is to make sure you cut and peel around the green areas. This may mean sacrificing most potatoes. Removing all the green areas will remove most of the bitterness.

If you see that the potato is green even under the skin, throw it away. This can be harmful.

Some people may tell you that you can eat green potatoes as long as you boil them and cook them at high temperatures for a long time. Even then solanine is still there, so don’t risk it.

2. Composting

Composting green potatoes is another solid option. Solanine poses no risk when it’s in the compost pile, so throw your potatoes in there. You may need to cut them into smaller pieces first to speed up the decomposition process.

3. Seed Potatoes

What to Do with Green Potatoes & How to Prevent This in the Future

If you can wait long enough (without letting your potatoes rot) before planting again, you may be able to use the sprouts (eyeballs) as seed potatoes.

Just keep checking them to make sure they don’t rot before planting time.

4. Do not feed livestock

Animals, especially creatures like pigs and chickens, are incredibly helpful at home. They can help turn kitchen waste into meat and eggs, making us feel less guilty about throwing away food.

Unfortunately, green potatoes are not the kind of foods you should be feeding your livestock. They can make your animals sick just as they make us.

How to stop potatoes from turning green

What to Do with Green Potatoes & How to Prevent This in the Future

Now that you know why your potatoes have turned green and why they probably aren’t the best to eat, it’s time to cut back and get rid of your losses.

You also have to make plans for the future. here are some tips.

1. Plant at the proper depth

One of the most common reasons why potatoes are green is that they were not planted at the proper depth.

Ideally, you should plant your tubers at a depth of about 4-6 inches. This will help protect the potatoes from potentially harmful rays of the sun.

2. Hill Your Potato

What to Do with Green Potatoes & How to Prevent This in the Future

When you plant next year, make sure you take the time to move your potatoes. Making sure there is enough soil mounding around each plant will help protect the tubers from the sun.

This process is called hilling because you will be building a small hill around your plant to cover the developing tubers. You will find that the height naturally decreases throughout the season due to rain, which is why you need to either build higher hills or keep moving them again.

Otherwise, the potatoes will grow too close to the surface of the soil.

3. Store Properly and Avoid Light Exposure

When you put your potatoes in storage, make sure you cure them properly (the skins should be impervious to your fingernails) before putting them away. Keep them in a cool, dark place away from other storage crops like apples or onions.

Make sure you eliminate exposure to artificial light during the harvesting process and when storing potatoes. This is one reason why a root cellar makes such a great place to store your potatoes.

Store potatoes in a place with good air circulation and high humidity. The ideal temperature would be at 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit with 95% relative humidity and total darkness. These conditions are not often found in normal homes, but do your best to bring the potatoes as close to these conditions as possible.

Keep potatoes away from heat-producing areas, such as near the refrigerator, stove, or dishwasher. If you are planning to eat the potatoes soon then you can keep them in a paper bag.

Remember that stresses such as heat, cold, light, or tuber injury will encourage the production of solanine—so taking precautions during the harvesting process can help increase your yield as well.

Red and white potatoes are great – green potatoes are not!

What to Do with Green Potatoes & How to Prevent This in the Future

When choosing what types of potatoes to plant in your garden, it can help to know that red potatoes are less likely to turn green than white.

Of course, this is only if you are following all the preventive measures mentioned above.

When you harvest, remember that red and white is good – green is bad! Toss those green potatoes and save only the best to eat.

Happy harvesting!

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