Minutes after eating my breakfast one day last week, I began to notice a burning sensation in my throat and mouth. It was followed shortly thereafter by extreme nausea and vomiting. I also had a horrible headache. What had happened?
I had just eaten breakfast, including some funny, bitter-tasting roasted potatoes. I knew that greenish potatoes and potato sprouts should be avoided, but I had no idea that you could get so sick from potatoes that looked okay.
Lo and behold, I found out that I was actually poisoned by solanine! Solanine is a naturally occurring poison that is produced in small amounts by potatoes as a defense mechanism against insects. Exposure to warm temperatures and light can significantly increase solanine content in potatoes. So remember: always store potatoes in dark, cool places!
The green tint that you see just under the skin of some potatoes is caused by the chlorophyll content. Potatoes produce chlorophyll and solanine at the same time, so a high level of chlorophyll, which is perfectly harmless, often accompanies high solanine levels, which are not so harmless. Discard these potatoes or cut off the green part, as well as any eyes and sprouts that may have formed.
But that’s not the whole story!
Occasionally, a potato that is not green can also be high in solanine content. High solanine levels usually result in bitter tasting potatoes, so don’t continue eating a potato that tastes bitter. Spit it out!
I, personally, will do this for the rest of my life. New lesson learned the hard way. Now you know – be careful!