I have many kilograms of potatoes that are turning bad, I don't want to throw them away. The term "turning bad" means that the best-before days on the products vary between 1-4 weeks i.e. they are old from 1 week to 4 weeks. Some of them taste bitter, some of them taste good but some black while some sprouting and other shape-changes. I am not looking for recipe recommendations, rather how to manage this problem. How can I know whether a potato is too old to be edible? If I can understand right, some sort of acid is formulated in some potatoes. Hence, I think I cannot cook the same products with them as with non-acidic potatoes. How should I manage acidic/non-acidic potatoes differently? Can I add some base to neutralize bad potatoes so they would become more edible?

Related Question but not the same

  1. Are green potatoes OK?
  2. Is it safe to eat potatoes which have sprouted?
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    As of making good fried potatoes: boil once (in oil, obviously) for longer time (something like 8 minutes or so), take away, wait few minutes and then boil again for minute or two. That way those are more crispy.
    – Olli
    Commented Mar 20, 2011 at 15:40
  • @Olli: wow that is the way to do it, now I understand why Mc.* has such design. Thank you.
    – user2954
    Commented Mar 20, 2011 at 18:03
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    If they have turned green-ish they may pose a health risk due to toxins, especially to young children and pregnant women.
    – user2215
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 1:49
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    @hhh, although this question already has a few answers I voted to close as off-topic because of the current definition of the FAQ (every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite ______?”). Please feel free to participate in the discussion about whether we should allow these types of "culinary use" questions on meta. Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 2:27
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    Yes, unfortunately I am sure. ANY answer to this question is equally valid. I could say "french fries, home fries, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, twice baked potatoes" and all 5 answers would answer the question. While I don't disagree that this might be a question with answers that are helpful to others, there is no single expert answer that can be given, and as it stands right now does not meet the requirements set forth by the community and the FAQ for this site. As I mentioned, if you feel this policy is bad, please participate in meta. Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 13:30

5 Answers 5


It likely depends on what 'turning bad' means ...

If you have a couple in the bag starting to sprout, but the rest haven't, you can roast or bake the ones that haven't sprouted, let them cool, then store then in the fridge so you can pull them out to use them in something later in the week. (eg. home fries, patatas bravas or a hash).

For those that have started to sprout, but are still firm, you can cut away the sprouted bits (this time of year, you might even be able to plant them), peel them, and then boil them and turn 'em into mashed potatoes (which you can then vary for the next couple of days ... you can mash 'em with other stuff to make a sort of potato salad; you can add cooked greens to make colcannon or bubble and squeek; you can use as a topping for a cottage pie (the technically correct term for shepherds pie when you're not using mutton or lamb)

Some of these freeze well ... I've made up cottage pies and frozen 'em in oven-proof containers; you could likely do the same with just mashed potatoes -- I see 'em for sale in the grocery store all the time.

If you're looking for something to cook that just uses a lot of potatoes (in a non-whole state, in case you need to cut away parts) ... potato salad, potato bread, potato curry, latkes, potato soup, tortilla de patatas ... the list goes on.

... and if they're soft and squishy, or oozing liquid ... pitch them. They're rotting, and not worth getting sick over.

  • everything of them. Sprouting, oozing liquid, tasting bitter, some delicious and in good shape. I tried sugar and oil to fry potatoes, not good idea. Failure. I tried potato chips with salt in the hot container and noticed that it is very easy to get over-dosage. Failure. But potato chips work even with very poor potatoes, success. Now the challenge is to get a bit healthy alternatives. I have tried hash-brows (tastes good), still many kilograms left.
    – user2954
    Commented Mar 20, 2011 at 20:02
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    @hhh : your healthiest options are just to not fry them -- bake 'em (but not when you have spoiled ones in the batch), or maybe roast with other vegetables; you can also get vegetables in the colcannon, bubble and squeek or even a potato curry. I'd also try to sort through the potatoes to make sure to get the spoiled ones out of whatever you're storing them in ... and I'd be hesitant to use the ones at the bottom that might've been oozed on.
    – Joe
    Commented Mar 20, 2011 at 21:51
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    Good advice- I'd like to add- Don't freeze raw potatoes. Even in a casserole, etc. They turn gray and rubbery and altogether disgusting. Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 15:17
  • @Sobachatina: one of the biggest innovation in the last century was to find out how to freeze stuff quickly, it paved the road for frozen vegetables and eventually for modern fridge. Suppose I very quickly freeze potatoes, do they become gray and grubbery? I doubt that knowing the last detail but is there any consumer-product by which I could freeze potatoes very quickly which would extend their usage?
    – user2954
    Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 22:28
  • @hhh- My deep freeze gets very cold and if I lay fruit/berries out in one layer in a metal pan I can freeze them solid with minimal damage. I have never tried this with diced potatoes because they are always already incorporated into a casserole and so freeze too slowly. I suppose I could try prefreezing diced potatoes before building the casserole but it's a little easier to simply parboil them instead. Commented Mar 24, 2011 at 12:43

What type of potatoes are you using? Floury ones, like russets, will work best if you're frying them. For natural cut fries, julienne your washed potatoes and allow them to soak for at least 4 hours. Drain them, dry them, and blanch them off in peanut oil (assuming you have access to a deep fryer) for about 2-3 minutes. Drain, and refrigerate until cooled. You can use these blanched ones to fry off into nice crispy fries within 1-2 minutes. I've also blanched them in shortening, but the peanut oil lends a lighter, more appealing color and flavor.

For McDonald's style fries, a very effective recipe can be found on seriouseats.com, under the title "Perfect Thin and Crispy French Fries." I've used it a few times with amazing success;Say what you will about McDonald's, they have incredible fries.

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    what is the purpose of vinegar in that recipe?
    – user2954
    Commented Mar 20, 2011 at 20:48
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    @hhh : vinegar when boiling potatoes will keep them from turning to mush.
    – Joe
    Commented Mar 20, 2011 at 21:43
  • @Joe, I didn't know that, what sort of vinegar should be used and how much?
    – nixy
    Commented Mar 20, 2011 at 22:25

I have grown potatoes in my garden for years. In my experience, soft potatoes aren't necessarily bad, it merely means they will be bad soon. They should be used as quickly as possible.

I read in several posts that green potatoes have gone bad. I'm not certain if they were speaking about a green mold or some other green substance that has appeared on the potatoes since storing or if they were green to begin with. With that said, green potatoes that are green when you purchase them are not going bad (however, green skin is bad to eat, explanation later).

These green potatoes are not rotting or spoiled--it simply means that the potatoes were exposed to sunlight while they were growing. This causes the exposed skin to turn a greenish tint; otherwise the skin looks and feels normal. These potatoes have not "gone bad" but you do not want to eat green skin, as it can make you sick or even kill you.

Solanine, a natural glycoalkaloid, can occur when potatoes are exposed to too much light. The green color just under the skin strongly suggests that toxic build-up may have occurred. If you notice a slight green layer just under the potato skin, cut away the green portions of the potato skin before cooking and eating.

Again, these potatoes will be green when they are dug up or purchased. They don't normally "turn" this color after sitting in your pantry for too long.

  • Hi Donna. Welcome to Seasoned Advice! I proposed an edit to your answer to break up the big paragraph a bit and make it a little easier to read.
    – Preston
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 19:01

Using the remaining good ones, pre-package anything you can think of in the freezer aisle ; hash-browns, home fries, etc. Then freeze them following storage guidelines.


The sprouts can be just rubbed off or cut out. Anything with black inside or outside, toss it. Potatoes should last several months, if stored right. Thus, in a dark and cool area, to prevent the green stuff. Google "how to store potatoes" for more information.

  • As per cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/1260/…, it is well established that, although potatoes that have sprouted MAY be safe, they are likely not.
    – razumny
    Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 16:58
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    There's a difference between sprouted and green. The highly-voted answer there says "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." So this answer is missing some important detail, but it's not altogether wrong.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 20:09

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