Potatoes: Green Means Stop

January 14, 2011 at 2:00 am 8 comments

By Chad Upton | Editor

If you eat potatoes, in any form, you’ve probably come across a partially green one.

Most importantly, don’t eat the green part — it’s toxic enough that you may get very ill, and it can cause death in rare cases. Secondly, it’s very bitter, so you’re not going to enjoy it. French fries and potato chips are also affected, so avoid the green stuff there too.

The green coloration is chlorophyll. Like many other plants, chlorophyll is formed with enough exposure to certain types of light. Of course, many green leaves are part of a healthy diet, so it’s not the chlorophyll itself that is the problem.

Exposure to light can also cause another reaction that forms a substance called “solanine.” It is not related to chlorophyll, but is often formed at the same time. Solanine is toxic. 16 ounces of a fully green pototo could be enough to make a 100lb person sick.

The green chlorophyll is a good warning about the presence of solanine, but solanine can form when chlorophyll does not. So, even if the potato looks normal, the bitter taste will serve as a warning.

Cooking a green potato will not help, it’s still toxic. But, a cooked potato cannot turn green since the required enzyme mechanisms are destroyed in cooking.

Bottom line: if it’s green or bitter, skip it.

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Photo: Selva / Eden (cc)

Sources: Purdue, Elkhorn

Entry filed under: Around The House, Be Green, Food and Drink, Health and Beauty, ProTips. Tags: , , , , , .

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Nikola Malesevic  |  January 14, 2011 at 7:39 am

    This is what I call a good secret and a good advice for that matter! Thanks, Chad!

  • 2. jaclyn  |  January 14, 2011 at 11:49 am

    i fail to see how a picture of a bag of dill potato chips illustrates your story.

    couldn’t find any photos of green potatoes?

    • 3. Bob  |  January 14, 2011 at 6:39 pm

      I thought it was funny.

      • 4. jaclyn  |  January 18, 2011 at 12:17 pm

        good for you.

  • 5. jeffkart  |  January 14, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    hmm. but i’m still here.

  • 6. elizabethxo  |  March 12, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    i’ve never eaten a green potato chip that tasted bitter. annd sixteen ounces is kinda a lot if my application of shot knowledge to chip weight is accurate. buut thanks for the heads up nonetheless.

  • 7. ashley  |  April 4, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    this is such bs. we farm, and the potatoes not being in a dark dry place therefore turning green does not mean you will DIIIEEE if you eat it. nor will it necessarily be bitter. isnt everything nowadays bad or deadly for you? good god.

    • 8. Chad Upton  |  April 4, 2011 at 7:42 pm

      I think you may have misunderstood this post. I didn’t say you will die if you eat it; I said, “it can cause death in rare cases” and that is true.

      Solanine is a poison and it can make you ill or even kill you in rare cases. LIke I said in the article, you have to eat a fair amount to get ill, which is probably why you don’t believe it is bad for you. That’s also why it’s a good secret: most people don’t know this, even farmers.



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