Are green potatoes safe to eat? Do I have to throw them out? Can I just peel the green skin off? Big questions when you’re on a boat and there isn’t a store nearby. You don’t want to throw away food!
Potatoes start turning green when they are exposed to light. The green itself isn’t a problem — it’s chlorophyll. But the same conditions that cause the potato to produce chlorophyll also cause it to produce solanine, a natural toxin that causes nausea and other intestinal upsets. If you get enough of it, it could cause neurological problems. But the solanine accumulates in the same areas as the chlorophyll, so it’s easy to see where it is.
Okay, if you want to be totally safe, you’d never eat a potato that has even the tiniest bit of green on it. But if you wanted to be totally safe, you wouldn’t head out cruising. So here’s my disclaimer: I’m offering the following information to be helpful in making your own decision, but I won’t be liable for your decision.
Basically, unless you go wild eating green potatoes, you’re not going to get enough solanine to do harm. One report that I saw said that an adult would have to eat about 4-1/2 pounds of unpeeled green-skinned potatoes at one sitting to suffer serious consequences, while another one stated that it would take 1 pound of a totally green-fleshed potato to make a person sick. Yeah, right, who’s going to eat a totally green potato? To be honest, I’ve never even seen one.Assuming that you’ve just got a green-skinned potato, peeling it will remove most of the solanine that’s there, as it accumulates primarily in the green skin. A few green spots can also be cut away. Only the potatoes that have really “gone green” have to be totally thrown away — although use your own judgment if you know that you have any underlying medical conditions that could cause you to be more susceptible.
So if you have some potatoes that are going green, use them in dishes where they are peeled, instead of baking them or otherwise leaving the skin on. Experts also suggest that even peeled, don’t eat more than a couple per week as your body takes about one day to clear any trace amounts of solanine. Eating them every day could cause the toxin to build up.
How About Eating Potato Eyes?
There’s solanine in the eyes too — in fact, it’s more concentrated there. So be sure to completely cut any eyes out. Don’t just break off any growth, actually cut the eye itself out of the potato.
The Good News
Here’s the good news in all this: store your potatoes correctly (read how), and they won’t turn green or grow eyes, so you won’t have to worry about them!