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May 01, 2012: PSA Green Potatoes

May 1, 2012

Green Potaotoes...save them for your spud-cannon. NOT for eating!!!

A couple of weekends ago I went to a friend’s house to celebrate his birthday. In the course of the day, his 9-year-old daughter, knowing things…well…could be better for me these days, kindly gave me a bag of potatoes. I t was a very appreciated gesture, particularly coming from someone so young.

Last weekend I endeavored to work upon a baked potato recipe with these potatoes for the blog, however after I baked the potatoes and cut them open to put the finishing touches on the recipe, I discovered they were green below the surface, so in our first PSA, The World of Okonomy is spreading the dangers of green potatoes.

Potatoes, like tomatoes, and eggplant are part of the nightshade family, and as such can prove poisonous under certain conditions. The green under the skin of potatoes happens when potato tubers are exposed to light. The green that you see is chlorophyll, which is in itself harmless, but a dangerous neurotoxin, solanine, is tacked onto the chlorophyll. Solanine poisoning can cause headache, hallucinations, vomiting, diarrhea,  cardiac dysrhythmia, and in great amounts ingested and/or a weakened state of the afflicted, even death.

The  solanine production is the plant’s natural defense from being ingested by insects or animals. Keeping potatoes in a cool, dry and dark environment is the best way to counteract solanine poisoning. My house is naturally pretty dark, but still I store my potatoes in a clementine box covered over with another box to keep light to a minimum. This keeps them dry, cool, and dark yet allows me to smell if any potato goes off. The potatoes can last sometimes a month or more. Their eyes will sprout, but I just pull them off, scrub the potato, and cook.

You don’t have to worry too much if you get an odd potato chip that has a green spot, just be sure that you are not serving whole green potatoes to the family, particularly, kids and older people.

What to do with my excess of poisonous spuds. Well, a few years ago I spent an afternoon with my nephew launching potatoes out of his spud-cannon into a field, that was more fun than I would’ve ever imagined. Green potatoes: cannon fodder, YES! Eating, NO!

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