‘Can you eat potatoes after they have sprouted?’- And other myths about spuds

20th Dec 2017
Cooking Growing

It’s official: food scientists at University of Lincoln have confirmed that yes, you can eat spuds after they have started to sprout - and yes, they are completely safe!

Results from the research showed that as long as the ‘bad’ part of the tuber (what we know as the potato itself) is removed, the spud doesn’t need to go to waste and is still perfectly edible.

According to a survey by WRAP (the Government's Waste & Resources Action Programme), shoppers tend to throw potatoes away when they look wrinkled, rotten or sprouted. But, even if potatoes go a little soft or spongy over time, we now know for sure they can still be consumed if prepared correctly.

More than £230 million worth of potatoes go to waste every year, the estimated equivalent of 730,000 tonnes, and we’ve been thinking of ways to save the simple spud from getting binned.

Take a look at some of our top FAQs about the potato and whether we think they are right or wrong:

1. What is healthier – potato skins on or skins off?

The majority of a potato’s valuable potassium and vitamin C is in the flesh, so whether its skins on or skins off, it’s a matter of personal preference.

The only nutrient that’s somewhat lost when you peel a potato is fibre, but not entirely. Soluble fibre (which dissolves as it passes through our digestive systems) can be found in abundance within the potato flesh whereas insoluble fibre (which is fixed and doesn’t break down) lies within the potato skins.

Don’t forget though, you can always keep the peel for another day and use it to make a tasty potato peel soup.

2. Are all potatoes the same?

Absolutely not! There are roughly 5,000 varieties of potato in the world and come in all different shapes, sizes and colours. Additionally, because of their molecular structure, different varieties are more suited to different cooking methods. For example, Maris Piper or King Edward are more suited to roast potatoes, ‘waxy’ types such as Charlotte are good for boiling and Desiree makes delicious mash.

3. Is a potato still safe to eat when it starts to sprout?

Well, we finally know the answer to this one and it’s a resounding yes! Most potatoes will start to sprout within a week to purchasing the pack, but as long as you make sure that the ‘bad’ part of the tuber is cut off, you are good to go.

4. How long can I store potatoes for?

Potatoes stored in a cool, dark place will keep several weeks. At room temperature, they will keep for approximately two weeks.

5. Are sweet potatoes better for you than regular potatoes?

The answer to this is all down to the prep. Of course, if you compare French fries made with white potatoes to baked sweet potato wedges, it will come as little surprise that the deep-frying will come off worse for you than oven baking.

However, like-for-like there is a clear comparable nutritional value between sweet and white potatoes, but simply focused on different nutrients. For example, sweet potatoes have a higher fibre and vitamin A content, whereas white potatoes have more iron and magnesium.

Have you got an ingenious way of limited potato wastage or a burning question you would like answering by our team of experts? Join the conversation using @seasonalspuds on Twitter or by liking us on Facebook.