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Potatoes that want to grow before i eat them

 
gardener
Posts: 825
Location: France, Burgundy, parc naturel Morvan
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I'm a potato grower newbie, i grew these kinds and two different ones. I keep them in a cellar of sorts, and they all do this thing where they start to grow. Roots and sprouts alike. They are in the dark, there is a LED light and probably it has been on for a while, but they behaved like this before that was left on.
I just break them off and peel them, cook them and eat them if i see no green shine. But is that even safe, or should i just keep them in there and regard them as a big lot of starter material for next year's harvest? Any ideas or recommendations are welcome.
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pollinator
Posts: 219
Location: Middle Georgia, Zone 8B
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I wouldn't call myself a potato expert, but here are my thoughts:

1. How long until you can plant new potatoes? If it's not too far away, I'd consider leaving them as next year's start.

2. What temperature are they being stored in? If you can find a cooler place, that might inhibit their sprouting. Not freezing, but cooler.

3. Are they exposed to any light? Can you cover them with straw, a blanket, newspaper, etc?

4. Are you committed to storing them fresh? Would you consider drying, canning, freezing, etc?

5. If all else fails, consider yourself such a great potato farmer than you're even growing them out of season, in your cellar, outside the soil, in the middle of winter! :D :D
 
pollinator
Posts: 1322
Location: Canadian Prairies - Zone 3b
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For storage, cool and completely dark is best. This will slow, but not always stop, sprouting behaviour.

The sprouts will do no harm. But watch for any green spots on the tuber itself (as in chlorophyll green). This comes from light exposure, and is poisonous. There is some debate on whether you can safely trim it back; I chop off half the tuber and use the rest. The green end goes in the seed box.



 
pioneer
Posts: 128
Location: Midwestern USA
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Hugo,

Thanks for posting this. We've had the same problem. We followed the advice in Barbara Pleasant's book, Home Grown Pantry, which suggests storing the potatoes in buckets full of damp sand. We lost more than half our harvest using this method, some lost when they went mushy or soft and another batch when our cat decided that a bucket full of sand made the perfect litter box. :) We tossed all the poop potatoes, of course, and the mush taters weren't edible, but the ones that just sprouted we removed the sprouts, and they were fine to eat. None of them showed green areas.

All,

I figure our basement just didn't get cold enough this fall to keep them from sprouting, as we've had 6o-degree days here as late as December, and maybe the sand medium mimicked soil too much. I'm curious to hear others' advice on how to properly store potatoes. I think we're going to ditch the sand, but what about brown paper sacks, rolled closed at the top to keep the light out?

Any other ideas out there?
 
gardener
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Certain varieties of potatoes might sprout faster than others from my observation, so consider growing some with "long keeping" pedigrees.

I stored mine last year in buckets of sawdust inside a broken freezer in a cool out building - three levels of insulation (the building, the freezer and the sawdust) seemed to keep them extremely well. This year we had a poor crop so I basically dug and ate, but I'm hoping to test this approach again next year.

 
pollinator
Posts: 129
Location: Fryslân, Netherlands
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Potatoes are normally divided in early and late potatoes, and it's the early ones which sprout easily. The late ones are better keepers.
Potatoes can be stored in a fridge, if you have no other place that's cold enough.
 
master pollinator
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Location: East of England
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I do the same as you do, just break the shoots off and eat them. When they get too wrinkled for me to feel good about eating them, they get shoved in a pot of compost & soil somewhere in the garden. We have a tiny yard that's almost all food forest, so most of the annual veg go into pots. We ended up with a nice harvest of good potatoes from the pots.

I like the idea of using an old fridge as an alternative root cellar!
 
pollinator
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Location: Denmark 57N
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Warmth is the main control on sprouting, light won't make them sprout though it will turn them green. Somewhere between 10 and 5C is perfect. Potatoes should not be kept under 5C and must not be heated up after they have been cooled or they will start to sprout. If your potatoes get to cold for any length of time then it's best to heat them back up slowly over several days if possible. This is because the starches in the potato turn to sugar when they are stored to cold, but some of that can reconvert back to starch if they are re warmed slowly, if they warm up fast they will start to sprout. The sugar will give a dark colour to the potatoes when cooked and also can cause off tastes.
Another thing, those potatoes were washed before being stored, don't do that it greatly reduces their storage ability. As to planting them those are already past the best planting stage so eating is the only real option.
 
Posts: 103
Location: Washington coast
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Artificial light is generally not sufficient to increase glycoalkaloid content in tubers.  The sprouts can have very high glycoalkaloid content, but the tubers are still safe as long as the sprouts are removed.  There are actually a lot of factors that contribute to glycoalkaloid intensification, including long storage and storage at warmer temperatures, so potatoes do tend to become more toxic over time, even if kept out of sunlight.  You should be able to taste bitterness in tubers that have become unsafe to eat.  The safety limit for glycoalkaloids is 20mg / 100 g of tuber and most people perceive bitterness starting somewhere between 10 and 13 mg /100 g, so you would be likely to notice before the potatoes become dangerous.  Of course, some people are insensitive to bitter flavors, but you would probably know if that is the case for you.
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