Green potatoes are poisonous

Written by: Captain Skellett // September 9th, 2011 // Science at Home

Is this not the best potato ever? Image by courhome

So I was cooking dinner tonight and had a hankering for potato wedges. Unfortunately, in a fit of nonsense I had put my potato in the fruit basket to ripen. Ridiculous. So it had turned greenish.

Now I’m a pretty frugal, food-saving kinda person and hate throwing stuff out, but I had a feeling that this was one of those times. One of those “better safe than sorry” times, so I checked the interwebz and then threw it out.

If you’re ever in a similar quandary, here’s why not to eat green potatoes.

Potatoes make glycoalkaloids, chemicals that protects them from insects and fungi. They are especially fond of these chemicals when they are damaged or growing new plants, when they go green and sprout from their eyes.

One of these chemicals is called solanine, a poison made by deadly nightshide (a member of the same family, Solanaceae, along with tomatoes).

Solanine poisoning resembles gastroenteritis, so vomiting, pooping, and generally upsetting symptoms. The CSIRO says that, seeing as the symptoms are the same, some undiagnosed cases of gastro might be due to green potatoes. (So glad I didn’t eat them.)

I usually keep potatoes in the fridge, which is apparently also bad. At the chilly 2-6 degrees celsius of a fridge, the starch turns quickly into high levels of sugar, causing them to brown quickly during frying. So you’re supposed to keep them in a paper bag in a dark cupboard.

So much dinner-time learning! Oh – and the replacement meal, curried roast vegetable couscous, was delicious.

Captain Skellett

I be Captain Skellett. Me blog started in April 2009 when I was working full time and didn’t get a chance to talk science. Now I have changed jobs and talk science all the time, but that doesn’t stop me blogging. More About Captain Skellett   Google


One Response to “Green potatoes are poisonous”

  1. Erika says:

    This is so good to know. I just read a post about how/why fruits ripen and then coming across this is just a bonus. I never paid much attention to the color of my potatoes, but now I will. I guess you’ve indirectly saved my life somehow.

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