I'm talking about potatoes that have gone somewhat soft and put out shoots about 10cm long.

Other online discussions suggest it's reasonably safe and the majority of us have been peeling and eating soft sprouty spuds for years. Is this correct?

  • 2
    store potatoes with apples to avoid this: lifehacker.com/5954159/…
    – chrisjlee
    Commented Oct 23, 2012 at 19:48
  • FWIW, I prefer the soft potatoes since they don't take as long to fry.
    – Klik
    Commented Apr 23, 2017 at 17:51

10 Answers 10


Not safe enough for me to try it. Potatoes actually contain a very dangerous toxin called solanine. This toxin is concentrated enough in the green parts in the plant to cause solanine poisoning. This includes the sprouts/eyes, and the potato itself if it's green.

This article from the New York Times health guide indicates that it is something to be taken seriously. Per this article, if the sprouts have been removed, and the potato is not green then it is safe to eat as far as solanine poisoning is concerned.

However, a potato as far gone as you have described sounds disgusting. A soft potato is on its way to going bad. Where I am from, potatoes are cheap enough that it's just not worth the gross factor for me to eat a potato that has 10 cm sprouts and is squishy. I do eat potatoes that have little nub sprouts on them and that are slightly less than firm, after removing the sprouts of course.

  • 7
    Just to add to this amazing answer, if your potato has a small green layer, it's safe to eat, as long as you make sure you remove all the green parts. Otherwise, just throw it out.
    – Edwin
    Commented May 26, 2012 at 17:55
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    To add to what @Edwin said: leaving a potato in sunlight will make it turn green; that's chlorophyl, and it's okay to eat. That's different from the green from solanine, which isn't okay to eat. Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 14:21
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    @PeteBecker, my understanding is that the green is caused exclusively by chlorophyll, and chlorophyll content of the potato correlates with solanine content, though they are produced by separate processes. Note however, that solanine is concentrated near the skin of the potato and can be significantly reduced by peeling. More info
    – Muhd
    Commented May 20, 2014 at 3:01
  • 2
    Cultivars grown in the US have all been selected for low solanine content since at least the mid 80's. I last poisoned myself on a green potato in 1980. It was quite unpleasant, so I'm still cautious, but farmers have to a large degree remediated the problem. Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 23:15

It is safe to eat a sprouted potato if it is still firm (source: University of Illinois); however, don't expect it to act the way an unsprouted potato would. Part of the starch will have converted to sugar.

Be sure to store potatoes somewhere cool and dry with good air circulation. Also, keep them away from onions.

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    Why keep them away from onions? Do the onions speed sprouting in a way similar to how apples slow it? Commented Jul 17, 2010 at 2:36
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    @Daniel Bingham: "Avoid storing potatoes with onions because, when close together, they produce gases that spoil both." from ehow.com/how_3480_store-potatoes.html but I've seen the same advice from several other sources also
    – Dinah
    Commented Jul 17, 2010 at 6:29
  • @Dinah Interesting, good to know! Commented Jul 17, 2010 at 6:45
  • @Dinah ... Thank you for that. Guess I'll be throwing them both out. I was wondering why they were spoiling so fast.
    – aug
    Commented Apr 6, 2015 at 1:52

Other online discussions suggest it's reasonably safe and the majority of us have been peeling and eating soft sprouty spuds for years. Is this correct?

Um... Well, I grew up eating them. Towards the end of winter, all the potatoes looked like that. We snapped off the sprouts, ate the firmer ones, and saved the rest for planting.

We didn't die. I don't think. Unless this is all a dream, the last twenty years merely the illusion of my dying, spasming, potato-poisoned brain.

That said, if you have a choice, I would stick with potatoes that haven't sprouted...

  • 10
    FWIW... If you store apples with your potatoes, the potatoes are less likely to sprout.
    – Shog9
    Commented Jul 17, 2010 at 0:20
  • This page says the opposite: wikihow.com/Stop-Potatoes-from-Sprouting-in-Storage
    – Dinah
    Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 17:16
  • 2
    @Dinah: I'm speaking from personal experience, so I guess that falls under his "folk wisdom" dismissal. There has been some research into the matter (although it appears to be somewhat inconclusive as to whether ethylene alone - the primary gas released by ripening apples - has a use in long-term potato storage). Regardless, it's easy enough to test yourself: put an apple and a potato in a paper bag, and store separately (in cool, dark place) from a potato by itself; check periodically and note how sprouts develop. As for the essential oils suggestion... I wouldn't waste them on taters!
    – Shog9
    Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 17:36
  • 5
    This article from America’s Test Kitchen have proven by experiment that storing potatoes with apples have positive effect. After 5 weeks the potatoes stored with apples were still fine, and the ones stored without apples where almost all starting to sprout.
    – awe
    Commented Aug 20, 2013 at 6:55

Potatoes are simple, but 10cm is obscene, throw them out.

Potato safety 101

  • Don't eat the sprouts, just cut them off (they taste bad anyway). Unless they're more than a few cm.
  • Don't eat potatoes that have any green tint to their skin [1].
  • Don't eat potatoes that are soft [2].


  • Keep your potatoes dry
  • Keep your potatoes in a dark place
  • If you store potatoes well over winter, they won't sprout and will sweeten as the starches turn to sugar and the flavor will become more complex and earthy. Stored potatoes are delish.


[1] This is difficult to see on purple/blue potatoes, so just eat them fresh.

[2] You don't want your potatoes to be hard, you want them to be firm to the touch. Don't be afraid to give them a bit of a squeeze. As an exception, "new potatoes", which are just very young and small potatoes with thin skins, are usually a bit softer.

Source: My friend worked on a potato farm.

Disclaimer: I am not a healthcare or food safety professional.


I know not to eat a green potato, but sprouted ones are no big deal. Just trim off the sprouts. Knives comment was really funny...lol!


My Dad grew up on a potato farm and he warned us about green potatoes but we were allowed to eat firm ones that had sprouted as long as we trimmed off the eyes. I don't think storing your potatoes with herbs or essential oils would be a good idea unless you wanted your potato dishes to taste of that stuff.

I'm fascinated by the comment about not storing potatoes with onions because I always have.


The solanine is found in the green skin and also highly concentrated in the eyes, which form sprouts.

Solanine is highly toxic, but is usually found in really small quantities. You would have to eat a lot of it to kill you. But it's still probably not a good idea to eat in general.

Toss any crazy sprouting potatos out, learn the proper way to store them. You wont have that problem....

  • You might add that proper way to store them in your answer. It would probably help a lot of people coming here, given this question's popularity.
    – LabGecko
    Commented Aug 9, 2019 at 16:24

From this Smithsonian article:

Not to worry though, fatal cases of solanine poisoning are very rare these days. Most commercial varieties of potatoes are screened for solanine, but any potato will build up the toxin to dangerous levels if exposed to light or stored improperly. Often, the highest concentrations of solanine are in the peel, just below the surface and in the sprouted “eyes”—things that are typically removed in cooking preparation

  • This wasn't really spam, it was just copy-pasted and the source site automatically appended an ad for themselves onto it. We'd generally prefer that you answer the question in your own words and support it with quotes, though - this quote is not a very direct answer to the question.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 19:02

If you keep your potatoes in a well-ventilated, low-light place, they'll last longer before turning green and sprouting. That said, I peel green potatoes, discard the sprouts and make mashed potatoes or scalloped potatoes out of them--because after all that, they seem kind of ugly to me. They've never made me sick, nor anyone I've fed them to.

Maybe it IS because modern cultivars have been selected for low solanine content. That seems logical to me. Nevertheless, my mother did the same as I do, and I was born 20 years before the 1980's began. Maybe the poisoning danger is at least mostly negated by peeling and cutting away any green flesh.

  • The sprouts used to have about 50 fold higher solanine content than the skin, so very much to be avoided. Solanine content also increased as the potato skin greened up. Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 0:04

My family doctor has always advised that pregnant women should avoit eating potatoes. As sprouting potatoes contain toxin which may cause defects in the developing baby. Some stores break the sprouts away, but there might be still toxin left behind. It may not hurt normal people, but for pregnant women, it is too risky. Try notto buy potatoes that have sprouts, buy enough for what you need to avoid them sprouting while keeping them too long


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