Are Green Potatoes Safe to Eat?

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2014 • all rights reserved

If your potatoes have a green tint, can you go ahead and eat them? Anything special you should do?  How about potato eyes?

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.

If your potatoes have a green tint, can you go ahead and eat them? Anything special you should do? How about potato eyes?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!

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Comments

  1. Me too! ! What’s up with that? ?

  2. It is very frustrating. I can’t stand throwing away food.

  3. Me too, but the last couple of bags were small ones that would not be much left after peeling. And some large baking potatoes, so can’t Perl those either. I wonder if it has something to do with the move toward more energy efficient lighting in the stores and different light spectrums of bulbs?

  4. If the potatoes are boiled, don’t reuse the water in rhe galley. The toxin leaches into it. Also remember small children can experience toxic effects at much smaller concentrations than adults.

  5. Thanks for the info! I looked into this a few years ago. After what I found I ended up throwing away an entire batch of breakfast potatoes.

    But then just a few weeks ago I noticed the potatoes were a little green. I just hoped frying them in butter would kill of the toxins. Let’s go with that!

    Visiting from the SITS Sharefest!

  6. This is very good to know! I’ve heard different reports on the safety/non-safety of green potatoes. I need to do a better job of storing mine!

  7. I cooked some green potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner one year, unaware of the danger. Four family members became violently ill. There was only a few green spots here and there. Never again. If I see green, I toss it.

  8. Aha! I broke every potato storing rule too. Now i know why. Thanks.

  9. I got violently ill and was rushed to hospital after eating some potato bake, not sure if the half-a-glass red wine may have helped trigger it but it started with itching then all my glands swelled and lots of hurling – doctor gave me adrenaline – i think he thought i was intoxicated – was an awful feeling.

  10. Thanks Carolyn: as a former Professional Food Scientist now part time cruiser, I really appreciate the good information you share here. You are right about the green in the potatoes and the other info you included. Thanks again!

  11. We use the supermarket bags that you take so you dont use plastic. Kept in a cool dry place. . Apparently scrubbed potatoes still with dirt on last longer than washed ones too. I didnt know about onions and potatoes. Will separate them in future. Thanks Carolyn for your informative articles

  12. Hannah Gardner says:

    I have heard that women who are pregnant or could be pregnant should be very careful not to eat green potatoes. The rest of us? Have at it.

  13. Oh no! I know this is super delayed, but basically, I have a HUGE phobia of nausea/vomiting. I consumed maybe one or two fingerling potatoes that were green today, but that was it- think I will be safe? The story someone commented above of the four family members getting violently ill freaked me out!

    • I’m betting you’re going to be just fine as long as you don’t freak.

      • Okay… Thanks! I hope so! I’m assuming since everywhere I’ve read said it had to be a decent amount to make people sick that I’ll be okay- hopefully! Either way, learned my lesson- hopefully not the hard way!

        • People are usually exaggerating, it seriously takes alot of of it to poison you so she might of just been a bad cook. Lol

    • MARTHA FOUST says:

      i was trying to ask if the dark spots on a peeled potato was bad for you i never got to that sight at all.
      so if you have a peeled potato and it has black spots on it should we leave them on and cook them like that,
      i am just asking because i have a friend that leaves them on, my self i cut them off?

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