Is there something in red potatoes (and possibly some others) that is very bitter that only some people can taste? And if so how/can I get rid of it. The reason I think so is I boiled some for potato salad and it was inedible. I figured that it was just that season/batch. So Ive tried it several times again at different times of year and it’s always very bitter. russet potatoes are fine as are reds when roasted. Though some fingerling and blues are also bitter but not nearly to this extent.

  • 1
    This is unusual, it would help to know your method. Do you add salt or other ingredients to the water when boiling? Do you keep the skin on or peel them?
    – GdD
    Jan 30, 2020 at 8:16
  • 2
    Do you in general have issues with your perception of bitterness? Some people are super tasters.
    – Stephie
    Jan 30, 2020 at 9:13
  • Has anyone else tasted the potatoes and said if it's bitter to them as well?
    – Kat
    Jan 31, 2020 at 19:14
  • It would help to know more than just the colours of the potatoes, the actual breed names may be needed. There are more than just a few red potatoes in the world. If you do not have the names, location, state if USA, may already be a help.
    – Willeke
    Mar 28, 2021 at 12:29

3 Answers 3


Have these potatoes started to sprout? According to this article from Caroline Wright, a lecturer in horticulture, "there can still be a bitter flavour to potatoes that have begun to grow." Exposure to light produces solanine. Solanine is a bitter toxin and even when pared from the potato, can have imparted bitterness throughout the spud.


As I have aged I’ve stopped being able to eat red bliss potatoes. The rest of my family loves them but for me, the skins are extremely bitter. I recall my grandmother saying she couldn’t eat them. I think it’s something genetic.


The question is a bit underspecified - you are talking about "red potatoes", but out of the 400 cultivars of potatoes, there are several dozens of red ones, so we don't know which ones you mean.

Anyway, you have to consider that 1) potatoes are a naturally bitter plant (they evoloved so to defend themselves from being eaten!), it is humans who bred the bitterness out of them, and 2) human flavor perception is not absolutely uniform. It is much more varied for smells (with different humans having or not having receptors for different molecules) than for taste, but I wouldn't see it as impossible that it happens for taste too in individual cases.

So, my best guess here is as you said in the question: there is some substance which you can taste that almost nobody else can. The potato variety you are talking about seems to be producing it, and breeders didn't breed it out, because they, and their customers, didn't taste it and so they found that potato variety perfectly palatable.

To test the theory, you can cook a batch of potatoes which is bitter to you, and have a handful of friends (not genetically related family members) taste it. If they notice no bitterness, it is a highly likely explanation.

If that's the case, you cannot get rid of it. Just buy other varieties of potatoes.

  • I have learnt that americans don't know the variety of their potatoes, just red/ white and new, that fact blew my mind.
    – WendyG
    Nov 14, 2022 at 14:53
  • @WendyG You can find "Red Bliss" and "Yukon Gold" potatoes listed (but to be fair many people call all red-skinned potatoes "Red Bliss" and all yellow-skinned ones "Yukon Gold"). I've seen other varieties listed, especially on potatoes that come pre-packaged in bags, but most people don't pay attention to that and look for Russets (floury potatoes) or a specific color (usually waxy)
    – Esther
    Nov 15, 2022 at 20:08

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.