Seeing dark spots on potatoes might make you think twice about eating them, especially if you’ve already peeled the spuds. There are a couple reasons why these marks might appear on your favorite starchy vegetable. But experts say that in most cases, you probably have nothing to worry about.
According to the Side Delights potato company, these dark spots have a very fitting name: internal black discoloration. Although it may sound daunting, that basically just means bruising that happens when a bunch of potatoes lay against each other for a long time. (Ever seen a big batch of potatoes crammed together at the grocery store? No wonder why this happens so much!) This condition is not harmful, but certain discolorations can have an “off” flavor, so it’s a good idea to cut off any spots whenever you see them.
Don’t be alarmed if you cut off all the dark spots in sight on potatoes and then see more appear after you boil them. According to the Idaho Potato Commission, heating these potatoes may sometimes bring to light other marks of discoloration that were simply hidden before. Luckily, all you have to do in that case is cut off the spots that emerged and toss them out before digging into your yummy side dish.
But what if you cut into your potato and you see a giant brown center or “hole” inside of it? According to East Point Potatoes, this is simply a natural defect called “hollowheart,” and it’s caused by either a quick growth or an odd change in temperature while the produce was growing. Again, these potatoes are still safe to eat, but you’ll definitely want to cut the brown center out of it before you start munching.
So when is a potato not OK to eat? You’ll definitely want to avoid eating any mold growing on a potato, for sure. And if a potato has become noticeably shrunken, mushy, wrinkled, has severe greening, or has developed long sprouts, those are telltale signs to toss it. But other than those cases, you usually have the all-clear.
Now, who’s in the mood for some yummy mashed potatoes?
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