My potatoes have sprouted! But not from the ground like they are supposed to. I was startled to spot these alien-like tentacles growing from my pantry shelf. Yikes! It scared me! This is the kind of growth you don’t want to happen, and the first thing I thought was “gosh darn it, half a bag of wasted potatoes!”
You do not want to eat potatoes that have sprouted like this. The apperance of sprouts, softness or greeness indicate a change in chemistry – the startches are turning to sugars – which means most of the nutrients have been lost. Potatoes are considered a species of Solanaceae, also known as the nightshade family, so when you notice these tell tale changes, you should take them as a warning that the potato is slightly toxic. Although not deadly poisonous, upset stomach or other digestive issues are likely if raw or bad potatoes are consumed. Better to be safe than sorry.
There are ways to avoid this disastrous spoilage. A shift to the green color spectrum indicates too much light exposure, so keep them in a dark place if you want them to keep. The sprouting is a result of humidity and temperature. You want a dry storage area with good air flow and consistently right around 50 degrees. This last stipulation is where I went wrong I think, I don’t have a cold cellar so the spuds were sitting somewhere between 65 and 68, which is just too warm. They got confused.
So what’s a girl who hates to waste to do with half a bag of toxic potatoes? They can always be composted, turned in to worm food that will eventually become nutrient rich supplement to add to the soil that will grow next years plants. That’s a nice thought. Or how ’bout a little experiment? Which is what I decided to do, by chopping them up and planting them in my new vegetable bed. It brought back good memories of sitting on my gal, Lea’s couch in Manhattan watching old episodes of P. Allen Smith as he planted row upon row of potato pieces on his gorgeous Southern property. It might be too late for these spuds since they were already sprouting, but it doesn’t hurt to try. I am in Idaho after all, if I can’t grow potatoes here, something must really be wrong with me. I guess I’ll keep my day job ’till I find out if it works.