Potatoes are starchy tubers, which grow beneath the soil surface.
These vegetables are good sources of some important vitamins and minerals.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, half a cup of raw, diced potato contains 42.8 milligrams (mg) of phosphorus, 319 mg of potassium, and 14.8 mg of vitamin C.
As with any other vegetables, potatoes only last a certain amount of time before they begin to go off.
This article will look at the shelf life of potatoes and detail signs of spoilage. It will also explore the health risks of eating gone-off potatoes and will list some potato storage tips.
Shelf life of potatoes
The shelf life of potatoes can vary depending on several factors, such as the temperature at which people keep them or whether they cooked the potatoes beforehand.
Generally speaking, a raw potato can last from a few weeks up to several months, depending upon the temperature at which a person stores it.
In the fridge, cooked potatoes can last for several days. In the freezer, it can last for up to a year.
The table below provides a more detailed breakdown of the shelf life of potatoes, based on whether they are raw or not and the temperature at which someone stores them.
|Preparation and storage temperature||Shelf life|
|Raw, stored at around 50°F/10°C||2–3 months|
|Raw, stored at around room temperature||1–2 weeks|
|Cooked and refrigerated||3–4 days|
|Cooked and frozen||10–12 months|
|Instant and uncooked||Years|
The cooking technique does not make a difference to the shelf life of cooked potato.
It is worth noting that a meal containing potato may not always keep as long as the potato itself if it contains ingredients with a shorter shelf life.
There are several ways to tell whether a potato is unsuitable for consumption.
A raw, whole potato should be firm to the touch. If a potato is mushy or soft, then a person should throw it out.
Although it is normal for raw potatoes to have some blemishes, a foul odor accompanying blemishing also suggests that the potato is unsafe to eat. It is also unsafe to eat moldy potatoes.
Even when firm, odorless, and blemish-free, a raw potato may not be suitable for consumption.
For example, it is best not to eat a potato that has been growing sprouts for a long time.
A person can still eat a recently sprouted potato, but only after they remove the sprouts.
It is unsafe to eat cooked potatoes when they are growing visible mold or have a foul smell.
There are two main health risks associated with potatoes. The first is food poisoning from eating spoiled potatoes. The second is that potato sprouts can be toxic to humans.
Food poisoning describes when someone becomes infected by foodborne viruses, bacteria, parasites, or fungi.
Although the symptoms of food poisoning can vary with the nature of the infection, one study lists the following common symptoms of food poisoning:
People can also become unwell from eating unspoiled potato sprouts.
As one study notes, potato sprouts contain high concentrations of solanine, a toxic chemical. The same is true of potatoes that have been sprouting for a long time.
Symptoms of solanine poisoning are similar to the major symptoms of food poisoning:
Anybody with these symptoms should contact a doctor.
The best way to store raw potatoes is to place them in a cool, dark, and relatively dry environment. Doing so will keep them from sprouting for as long as possible and will slow the development of mold.
It is best not to store raw potatoes in the fridge or freezer. This can cause the potatoes to brown, soften, and increase in sugar content.
A person can store leftover cooked potatoes safely in the fridge for a few days. Alternatively, someone can freeze cooked potatoes for several months.
It is worth noting that freezing some cooked potato products may reduce their quality.
For example, the results of an older study from 2005 suggest that cooked mashed potatoes lose quality after freezing.
All around the world, people eat potatoes as a nutritious and versatile staple food.
There are some risks associated with eating potatoes.
Individuals can typically avoid these risks by taking care when storing and eating potatoes.