Fried, mashed, baked or grilled—there isn’t a spud we don’t love. Heck, we’ll even toss one into a waffle iron (trust us, it’s delicious). Which is why it’s so upsetting to see those weird little shoots sprouting out of Sunday’s farmers’-market haul right as you’re about to whip up a delicious potato recipe for dinner. Here’s what you need to know.
Is it safe to eat a sprouting potato? Just because they have a few green or white nubs sticking out doesn’t mean you have to throw those tasty taters away. You do, however, have to cut out the shoot (and make sure that you take a little bit of the surrounding area, too). These sprouts contain potentially harmful levels of glycoalkaloids (natural toxins), but as long as the potato is firm and you cut the buds out, you’re good to go, says the National Institutes of Health.
What can I do to keep my potatoes from sprouting? Sprouts happen when your potato is exposed to an environment that’s too warm or too bright. Keep nubs at bay by storing potatoes in a cool, dark place (a temperature of around 50 degrees is ideal) like an enclosed pantry. Short on space? Keep potatoes in a paper bag on the kitchen counter to block out sunlight. But don't put potatoes in the fridge—the starches convert to sugar, giving spuds a weirdly sweet flavor and gritty texture. No, thanks.
When should I toss a tater? If a potato feels soft, it’s time to say goodbye. Same goes for potatoes that are green beneath the skin, which means they’re producing chlorophyll and solanine—bitter tasting compounds that can cause an upset stomach.