Old potatoes release toxic gas into the air: truth or myth

People began eating potatoes about 9 thousand years ago, in what is now Bolivia. In ancient times, the Indians not only ate it, but also worshiped it, considering it a living creature. It appeared in Russia only in the 17th century, and this event is often associated with the name of Peter I – it is believed that he sent a bag of tubers from Holland to the capital. Potatoes have already penetrated so deeply into our culture that they are found in almost every home and are included in the ingredients of a huge number of dishes. It is so familiar to us that many people do not even know that it is actually the fruit of a poisonous plant. If potatoes are stored incorrectly, they produce a dangerous poison that can cause severe poisoning. It is also believed that a toxic substance can be released into the air and poison everyone who inhales it. In fact, people who believe in volatile potato poisoning are wrong, and now we will prove it.

Old potatoes release poisonous gas into the air: truth or myth. Potato fruits can become poisonous - some people even believe that this poison gets into the air. Image source: mk-mari.ru. Photo.

Potatoes can become poisonous—some people even believe that the poison is released into the air. Image source: mk-mari.ru

The authors of the scientific publication IFL Science spoke about the dangerous properties of potatoes that were stored for a long time and incorrectly. The reason for writing such an article was a dispute that arose on the Internet under a post about a little girl who secretly collected potatoes behind her bed. Having seen this story, people began to write that potatoes lying in such a place could poison a person. But in reality this is not true.

Old potatoes release poisonous gas into the air: truth or myth. A photograph that sparked a controversy about the toxicity of potatoes. Source: x.com. Photo.

How to properly store potatoes

Potatoes are a poisonous plant because their stems and leaves contain the poison solanine. It has a bitter taste and is needed by plants so that they are not eaten. But the potato fruits themselves do not contain this poison – it appears only when stored for too long under improper conditions.

Potatoes are best stored at temperatures from +4 to +7 degrees Celsius. If you store it at lower temperatures, it freezes and tastes sweet. The air humidity in the storage area should be 85-90%, because in a too dry place the fruits can shrink, and in a humid place they can rot. It is also very important that the storage area is well ventilated, because stagnant air leads to the development of mold. Potatoes also do not like light, and under its influence the above-mentioned solanine is formed in the tubers.

How to properly store potatoes. The best place to store potatoes is a dark and cold cellar. Photo source: novochag.ru. Photo.

The best place to store potatoes is a dark and cold cellar. Photo source: novochag.ru

Based on everything written above, it turns out that the best place to store potatoes is a dark and well-ventilated cellar. If this is not available, potatoes can be stored in an unheated pantry, frost-free garage or balcony.

Depending on environmental conditions and the variety, potatoes can be stored from several months to a year. If mold, rot or green spots appear on the tuber, such potatoes should never be eaten.

Read also:5 indoor plants that have no place in your home – they contain poison

Why are potatoes dangerous?

If potatoes turn green, it means they contain poisonous solanine. If it enters the human body, it causes severe poisoning. Symptoms of solanine poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and even central nervous system depression—some people even fall into a coma. If poisoning is treated incorrectly, the patient may even die.

The scientific literature describes only cases of solanine poisoning after eating spoiled potatoes. There is no evidence that anyone was poisoned by potato poisoning in a cellar or other enclosed area. Of course, there were cases when people lost consciousness in the cellar, but they were associated with excess carbon dioxide, the presence of rot and other factors.

Why are potatoes dangerous? This is what potatoes saturated with poisonous solanine look like. Photo source: sciencephoto.com. Photo.

This is what potatoes saturated with poisonous solanine look like. Photo source: sciencephoto.com

The fact is that it is almost impossible to be poisoned by solanine through breathing under normal conditions. This poison can be released into the air in dangerous quantities only at temperatures above 200 degrees Celsius. But in cellars and many other rooms such heat usually does not happen.

In the end, it turns out that the main rule that will help avoid potato poisoning is not to eat green tubers. This cannot be done even if the green spots are small; it is better not to risk it. Potatoes are also one of the foods that are not recommended to be eaten raw. And all because raw potatoes may contain chemicals that are used by farmers to protect against weeds and insects.

Have you already subscribed to our Zen and Telegram channels? If not, it's time to fix it!

Potatoes are far from the most harmless plant. It is not surprising that Russian peasants at first refused to eat it and considered it “the apple of Satan.”