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I recently made some potato wedges in the oven. I shared this recipe with my relative, who admonished me for not properly peeling the red potatoes before baking them.

She claims that there are disease and viruses that lie on the skin, so peeling it will get rid of it. I bake it, so I assume that even the high heat in the oven would kill bacteria and germs. And besides that, I make sure to wash potatoes thoroughly before cooking them.

Am I in the wrong here? Should I have properly peeled the potato wedges before baking them? Personally I feel they add more flavor, and from all the pictures on the recipes online, it seems they also do not peel it.

  • 6
    What sort of bacteria can survive an oven at temperatures high enough to bake a potato? Anyway, the skin is delicious. – lzam Sep 21 '14 at 19:07
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    I can't imagine peeling red potatoes. What a chore. I peel large white potatoes such as russets because their skin is coarse, thick, and IMO adds nothing to flavor or texture. But red potato skins are thin and tasty. No reason to peel them. – Carey Gregory Sep 21 '14 at 22:34
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    Your relative is a kook (no, I didn't misspell "cook"). Just scrub them, being sure to scrub off or scrape off (or cut off with the tip of a knife) any eyelets that have started to grow. The skin is often the most flavorful and textured part of any potato. – MPW Sep 22 '14 at 0:23
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    If you need more than the word of some people on the internet to convince your relative, I would point out that many restaurants serve red potatoes skin on. If there were really a health concern that wouldn't be allowed, or wouldn't happen because you don't get repeat business through food poisoning. – stonemetal Sep 22 '14 at 14:14
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    IMHO the only way to enjoy potato wedges is with the skin on. Clean the potatoes adequately beforehand, and between that and the cooking, you will have healthier and more delicious potato wedges. My mom was surprised when I taught her to make red mashed potatoes with the skin on -- she won't have it any other way now. – Doktor J Sep 23 '14 at 15:16
37

No peeling is needed.

A good wash and proper cooking will handle all of your food safety needs.

  • 3
    Good answer. Thorough washing of produce is most important whether it is to be peeled or not. – Cindy Sep 21 '14 at 17:22
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    Horrific Tales of Potatoes That Caused Mass Sickness and Even Death smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/… High solanine cultivars pretty much disappeared from the market by the 90's, so it's generally safe to eat potatoes with the skins on nowdays, despite the advice of the older generations. – Wayfaring Stranger Sep 21 '14 at 17:46
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    @WayfaringStranger If I understand correctly, high concentrations of solanine are typically in sprouting eyes, are parts of the potato that turn green. – lzam Sep 21 '14 at 19:11
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    @Izam That's true, but there are also huge cultivar to cultivar differences, for example: boingboing.net/2013/03/25/the-case-of-the-poison-potato.html – Wayfaring Stranger Sep 21 '14 at 21:48
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    FYI, SIGNIFICANT solanine production also requires potatoes to be stored in direct sunlight. Sunlight exposure speeds up the production. They'll gain a green hue as it develops. – Matthew Sep 22 '14 at 22:56
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Absolutely no peeling necessary.

In addition to the above advice, if you (or anyone else) is overly concerned about 'germs' and the like on the skin, use a small plastic-bristled scrub brush to clean the potatoes properly under running water. I usually don't, unless they are really gritty from the field or have huge divots on the surface where water may not easily reach.

The peel improves the taste as well as the healthful perks.

7

I rarely peel my potatoes, I love the flavor and nutritional benefits (and ease) of retaining the peelings. If skin is too old or green, then I'll peel.

This discusses the concern of green potatoes:

Are Green Potatoes OK?

PS: I always wash my potatoes with a vegetable brush under water; I always wash all produce.

7

Not only is peeling not needed for potatoes, but in my educated opinion peeling potatoes is not recommended.

As long as you follow proper food etiquette like washing your hands and properly washing the foods before you cook them, as well as cooking at the proper temperature, then you do not need to worry about bacteria.

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Make sure to wash the potato well, under water, and preferably with a vegetable brush.

Further, it is unlikely that any bacteria could survive the high temperatures inside an oven anyway.

My last point is that, in my opinion, the skin is the most flavorful part of the potato.

On the other hand, beware of green sprouts on potatoes specifically. Make sure to remove any green sprouts, because they contain a dangerous and potentially deadly toxin called solanine. See this post for more details on the green sprouts: Is it safe to eat potatoes that have sprouted?


History Sidenote:

It's true that in the former USSR it was embedded into the culture to peel potatoes before eating them. However, this was not due to any nutritional danger, because the peels were still used and consumed separately. According to the book "Potato Ontology: Surviving Postsocialism in Russia" by Nancy Ries, on Page 195:

"Family narratives powerfully transmit potato-peeling morality. When I told her I was writing about potatoes, Marina, an erudite older friend, a Doctor of Social Sciences, plunged into a war story. She and her mother were evacuated to Kazakhstan, while her aunts remained in Moscow. When she returned after the war, the aunts told her their food stories. Always on the verge of starvation, her aunts did not waste even those dirty, unappetizing peels but saved and mashed them into pancakes." [Emphasis added.]

So, as you see, even the Soviet USSR, who emphatically peeled potatoes, still ate the potato skins (even the "dirty, unappetizing" ones), so the potato skins were not peeled because they were unhealthy, but rather merely out of tradition.

  • The question did include a food safety aspect (is it actually unsafe to eat potato skins) but was definitely not about health/nutrition, which is off-topic on our site. I've edited that portion of your answer out. – Cascabel Sep 25 '14 at 0:09
  • but in doing so you also removed WHY it is not recommended to peel them. – seasonedaddict Sep 27 '14 at 1:04
  • If your reason not to peel them is because you claim it's healthier that way, it's not the kind of thing we any to see in an answer here. If I removed something else mistakenly, I apologize, and please edit it back in. – Cascabel Sep 27 '14 at 11:24
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No, I don't think you need to peel them. That said, in some parts of the former ussr, peeling potatoes is (claimed to be) a must. So your relative's sentiment isn't without some precedent, at least.

  • As I expressed in my answer, they were peeled not due to health reasons, but merely out of tradition, because even in the former USSR, they still ate the potato skins; albeit separately. – seasonedaddict Sep 22 '14 at 22:20
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No, you do not need to peel red potatoes before baking. As others have already said, good basic food hygiene washing and scrubbing plus removal of any eyes or sprouts suffices. I wonder if the emphasis is on red potatoes as opposed to white or black or other colours? I suppose your relative could have been concerned you would not recognise any green discolouration? On the other hand, people never ate the peel when I was a child, except when baking potatoes outdoors in a camp fire or on bonfire night. It is a relatively new culinary tradition to leave the peel on for baking, boiling and roasting. I think you should keep that in mind when hearing such warnings. And as you yourself say, all the recipes for potato wedges call for keeping the skin on as an integral part of the dish. Without the skin they would be potato pieces or slices, not wedges in my opinion.

0

The skin of a potato concentrates not just nutrients but also many of the chemicals used during the cultivation process (pesticides, fertilisers, etc). It is therefore preferable to peel them, unless you're cooking organic potatoes.

source

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When I was a kid, I would eat the potato peels of our home grown potatoes, as my Mom peeled them. If it's dangerous, it's been dormant for 50 years:)

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