This Morning: Expert advises on growing potatoes for Christmas
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Potatoes can sprout and turn green if they are not stored correctly. The popular vegetable is bought ambient – not in the fridge aisles in the supermarket – and many store them in cupboards, or dark spaces when they get home. But new research said potatoes can safely be stored in the fridge, thus extending their shelf life up to six months.
Potatoes are the number one vegetable that contributes to food waste a study revealed.
Overall, almost half a million tonnes of fresh vegetables and salad, and a quarter of a million tonnes of fresh fruit worth a total of £2.1bn, are thrown away in UK homes each year because they are “not used in time”.
Potatoes were originally kept out of fridges in fear of acrylamide levels being increased – acrylamide is a chemical substance formed in starchy foods, and exposure to it can increase the risk for several types of cancer.
But, the Committee on the Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) looked at the way potatoes were being stored, and revealed storing potatoes in the fridge doesn’t increase acrylamide levels, and refrigeration also extends their shelf life.
When storing potatoes, consumers are also advised to follow Best Before dates and labels with caution.
WRAP conducted a trial to see whether best-before dates were accurate or were indeed causing unnecessary food waste.
Results from the survey “indicated that Best Before dates are often not an accurate indication of when products are still good to eat, especially when products are stored in optimum conditions – when they last much longer”.
Take potatoes for example, if kept ambient, in a kitchen cupboard, for example, the packaging suggests they are best before 10 days. But it was another four days after the date when the first signs of deterioration showed.
When potatoes were stored at 4°C, the packaging still suggested they were best before 10 days. But it was another 20 days after the date when the first signs of deterioration showed.
When best-before dates were scrapped from the trial altogether, potatoes were shown to last much longer – both ambient and in the fridge.
Potatoes can be stored for up to several months in a cool, dark place.
If kept in the fridge, potatoes can last up to three times as long, so six months plus.
To improve the conditions for potatoes even further, consider removing them from the original plastic packaging.
Instead, keep potatoes in a hessian sack or fabric bag as the sack material excludes light and allows the potatoes to breathe.
Eventually, potatoes will become past their best, and there are some things to look out for; growth spurts and the skin going green.
You can still eat sprouting potatoes, but it is not advisable to eat green or soft potatoes – compost these.
One possible cause for your potatoes to sprout is if they are located near onions.
It’s tempting to toss both potatoes and onions together, as they both like to be stored in similar ways.
But keeping them together, along with potatoes and avocados, or potatoes and bananas, or potatoes and apples, might encourage potatoes to sprout due to the ethylene gas they produce.
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