How To Tell If Your Potatoes Have Gone Bad

Potatoes are a key ingredient in many of our favorite culinary pleasures — from hash browns and French fries to mashed potatoes and gravy and sweet potato pie — but like all produce, they're perishable. So it's important to be able to realize when your potatoes have gone bad. In fact, it is more important than you may realize.

Although properly stored raw potatoes can stay fresh for months, bad potatoes are a menace. Luckily, Healthline has offered a few tips. According to the outlet, you should look for potatoes with dark spots or bruises. Discard these, as well as soft or mushy potatoes. Sprouts can also be a sign of spoilage. So if you see any of these signs, or smell anything rotten or moldy, toss the potatoes at once. A healthy potato, as Crate and Basket notes, should be consistently firm to the touch all over.

Beware: Moldy potatoes are extremely dangerous. Under no circumstances should you ever eat a green or moldy potato. Green potatoes signal the presence of a toxin called solanine that, per Smithsonian, can cause severe sickness and even death.

How to store potatoes properly

Potatoes gone bad are rare, and in most cases, the result of improper storage. Best practices start at the supermarket, says PureWow, where you should look for potatoes with smooth skin, and no blemishes, cuts or bruises. Once purchased, keep them in a cool, dry place like a cellar or pantry, where the temperature should be between 42 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit (via Steamy Kitchen). If your home does not provide these conditions, you can put your potatoes in the refrigerator — but only if you are not planning to fry them.

Remember to keep potatoes out of the sunlight, cautions Food 52, and away from onions, as ethylene gases in onions speed up sprouting in potatoes. Good airflow is also important, per Food 52. Paper or mesh bags are good containers, as are plastic bags that have been perforated so that the potatoes can breathe. Stored properly, your potatoes should keep safely for weeks if not months. Once you've cooked them, however, eat reheated potatoes within four days, notes Healthline, and make sure you reheat them to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill any bacteria that may have formed.