How Apples Can Help Prevent Your Potatoes From Sprouting

Potatoes are one of the most versatile vegetables around, being used to make everything from simple french fries to classy potatoes au gratin. That's why it can be especially disappointing to get home and discover the spuds you were storing on the counter have started sprouting. The sprouts, or eyes, of a potato are generally considered to be toxic, which can mean that some portion of your tubers might end up in the trash. Luckily, there is a surprising way to avoid this outcome, and it only requires a few apples.

Where you store your potatoes can have a huge effect on how long they stay fresh. As it turns out, keeping them close to apples by storing them in the same bowl or fruit basket can slow down the rate at which both ripen. This is because apples produce a natural gas known as ethylene, and according to a 2016 study originally published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology, exposure to ethylene can slow down or halt potatoes' sprouting process. The ethylene produced by apples can also generally keep potatoes fresh for longer.

The ethylene in apples keeps potatoes fresh

While the presence of ethylene has been shown to slow down the rate at which potatoes ripen, when it comes to other produce, it can actually speed up the process and cause them to quickly go bad. That is why you should not keep apples next to items that are especially sensitive to ethylene, such as onions, melons, broccoli, and peaches.

If you don't have any apples on hand, there are a few other ways to keep your taters from sprouting. Potatoes start to grow eyes when the environment is warm, so it's best to keep your potatoes in a cool, dry, dark place. However, you should not store them in the refrigerator because the cold temperature can trigger the potato's starches to transform into sugars, which can become carcinogenic when cooked (per Healthline). You should also make sure the area where you're storing your potatoes have airflow so they don't develop fungus.

There may not be many recipes that utilize potatoes and apples together, but they're still a match made in heaven when it comes to keeping one another fresh. Potatoes are one of a short list of produce that isn't negatively affected by ethylene, so take advantage of the science and avoid toxic sprouts by keeping them next to a couple of apples.