Ask Niki: Potato skin

Q: I have read that potatoes contain solanine – a toxic alkaloid found in the skin that is not destroyed by cooking. I have always cooked potatoes in their skins, believing this was the most nutritious way. Should I have been peeling them all along?


A: You’re doing the right thing eating them with the skin on. It’s the ideal way to maximise the potato’s nutrients and fibre.

However, green or sprouting potatoes are signs that solanine levels are building up. You’re right: solanine is a natural toxic compound that can build up in potato skins when they are incorrectly stored, stored for too long or bruised. So take care to store potatoes in a cool dark place and discard those that turn green or start to sprout. If potatoes have just a slight-greenish tinge, peel the skin thickly before cooking – they will be safe to eat. If the potatoes have green spots, the rest of the spud will be fine.

Remember though, don’t eat any cooked potatoes that still taste bitter.

First published: Oct 2010

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