A lot of people accidentally leave potatoes in the cupboard for longer than they should, resulting in potatoes that have wrinkled and shriveled. If this has happened, you might not be sure whether you can safely eat the potato or not.
You should not eat a potato that has turned wrinkly, because it will have started to degrade and may have bacteria in it that could make you sick. Potatoes should be firm and plump in your hands, and should not squash when you compress them. This shows that they are still good to eat.
We’re going to look at how to tell whether potatoes are okay to eat or not, so you know whether to cook or compost tubers that are lingering in your cupboard!
Are Wrinkled Potatoes Okay To Eat?
Many people think of potatoes as the eternal vegetable that can last forever and will stay good to eat no matter what – but this isn’t true. Potatoes are as vulnerable to going off as many other vegetables, and you need to be careful about eating them once they are past their best, as there is a risk that they will hurt you.
Potatoes that have turned wrinkly should not be eaten, because the wrinkling shows that the potatoes have started to lose their nutrients and may have started to decay. This indicates that there could be bacteria inside the potato, and this could make you sick if you consume it. It’s better not to take the risk.
That said, you can still safely eat potatoes that show other signs of aging. These include:
- Sprouts (as long as you cut them off and remove a little bit of potato from around that area too)
- The potato has a few dark spots on the skin (these can be peeled off, and if the flesh underneath is good, the potato can be eaten)
However, you should be careful and look for other signs of decay. Sprouts are often accompanied by wrinkling, and this means that you shouldn’t eat the potato. If there are any signs of mold appearing on the skin or if the potato has gone at all soft, it needs to be discarded.
Large bruises and blemishes also mean that you need to discard the potato or at least cut off the bad area and some of the surrounding flesh. It isn’t a good idea to eat big bruises, because bacteria can easily get into the softened flesh and may make you sick when you consume it. Be careful and if in doubt, throw the potato away.
What Happens If You Eat A Wrinkly Potato?
Many people do eat slightly wrinkled potatoes and nothing bad happens. On its own, wrinkling isn’t a sure sign that the potato has been contaminated by bacteria – it just suggests that it may have been. However, it is generally best not to eat them.
When a potato has turned wrinkly, it has lost some of its nutrients and moisture content, and this indicates that it is going off. The more wrinkly the potato is, the higher the chances are that it has been contaminated by bacteria. If you choose to eat a wrinkly potato, you’re at risk of food poisoning.
Food poisoning can result in diarrhea, stomach cramps, vomiting, nausea, and a fever. In serious cases, it can also lead to hospitalization, so it is important to be cautious with all foods that you consume. Although slightly wrinkled potatoes are often fine to eat, there is a risk that they will make you ill – so treat them with caution.
How Should You Store Potatoes?
Potatoes are known for having a particularly good lifespan and they can outlast many kinds of vegetables if they are stored correctly. The better the storage conditions, the longer your potatoes should last before they start to become wrinkly.
You need to keep potatoes in a spot that is dark (as this helps to prevent them from sprouting) and cool (as this helps to prevent them from rotting). However, you should not put potatoes in your fridge, even though many other vegetables benefit from cold storage. In potatoes, being chilled causes the starches to turn into sugars.
This will make the potatoes taste very strange when you cook them and can lead to browning. It is best avoided. The optimal storage temperature for a potato is between 45 and 50 degrees F. This is a little above a fridge’s temperature, but still very cool – which can be difficult to achieve in many homes.
If you have a basement, your potatoes will keep very well in there. If not, try to find a cool cupboard or spot in your pantry. Having good airflow helps to keep the potatoes fresher, but keep them away from the light, or they will sprout. It can be a tricky balance to achieve, but getting it right will massively extend the lifespan of your potatoes.
Can You Freeze Potatoes?
You can freeze cooked or partially cooked potatoes, but don’t freeze raw ones. Raw potatoes have a lot of water in them, and freezing it will make the potatoes taste grainy when they are thawed and cooked.
Even cooked potatoes will probably change texture noticeably once they have been frozen, but this is generally not too unpleasant. If you have some potatoes that are going to go off soon, cooking and freezing them is preferable to letting them turn wrinkly and then cooking and eating them. It will also be significantly safer, because bacteria cannot breed in frozen potatoes.
Overall, potatoes are better when they are eaten fresh, but if you aren’t going to use your potatoes up soon enough, cooking and freezing them is definitely preferable.
You should not eat your potatoes if they have turned wrinkly. Wrinkled potatoes may be harboring bacteria that could make you sick. Although a lot of people do opt to eat them, this is not generally considered safe, especially if they have become badly wrinkled. Compost them and get some fresh ones.