What Can We Do With Old Potatoes?
We have all done it. We cannot resist buying that big bag of Idaho potatoes, yams, or delicious sweet potatoes.
It is sometimes cheaper to buy that whole bag of potatoes, so we do it with the best intentions to make delicious and nutritious meals. But then reality kicks in–that bag sits on the counter for weeks sprouting little round ‘eyes’. And sometimes, if it sits long enough, some of them will have a green color. Is this safe to eat?
According to the National Capital Poison Center (poison.org):
Potatoes contain two kinds of glycoalkaloids, both natural toxins, called solanine and chaconine. Exposure to light greatly increases the formation of chlorophyll and glycoalkaloids. Chlorophyll is responsible for the green color of many plants and is not toxic. However, the green of chlorophyll is a marker that can let you know that there could be an excess of glycoalkaloids. The entire potato plant contains glycoalkaloids, but the highest concentration is found in the leaves, flowers, “eyes,” green skin, and sprouts. The lowest concentration is found in the white body of the potato.
Sprouted spuds aren’t necessarily destined for the landfill: the potato itself is likely still safe to eat, so long as you cut away the little growths and green spots. And you can cook it up, and mash it with salt and butter, but what if you made something even more fun?
Making your own potato or vegetable chips, whether you fry or bake them, is easier than you think. We have found that once you do make your own, it is hard to go back to the oversalted store version!
Here are the advantages: You get to pick which vegetables to use. And you choose the spices and seasonings you want to use for your homemade chips. And: Making your own chips is fun and easy.
Some Tips: Root vegetables are best, such as carrots, parsnips, potatoes, and beets. Not only are they colorful, but they each also have a flavor of their own. Just make sure you remove those little “eyes” and cut off any part of the skin that looks green.
1 large carrot, trimmed
1 large parsnip, trimmed
1 sweet potato
1 Yukon Gold potato
1 large beet
Canola oil, for frying
Basic Seasoning Mix:
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
The Step-By-Step from Spruce Eats
There are plenty of recipes out there to make your homemade chips, but Spruce Eats is one of those sites that is always thinking about food waste. Here is this weeks recipe:
Get all of your ingredients together first. This makes the whole at-home cooking process much easier. So start by pulling all of those potatoes and questionable veggies. Get your seasoning choices out. Bowls, oil, pans, and peelers too!
Peel off the skin, making sure all those little ‘eyes’ are gone as well as any green tone on the Idaho potato.
Now slice them thin. It helps if you have a mandoline, a food processor fitted with the 2 mm slicing blade, but if don’t have one then a sharp knife works just as well when cutting the vegetables into very thin slices (1/16-inch thick).
Fill a large bowl with ice water and transfer the carrot, parsnips, sweet potato, and either Yukon gold or Idaho potato to the ice water. [Note: do not miss this step! soaking any starch produce item in cold water like this makes an absolute difference!]
Now, fill a small bowl with ice water and transfer the beet slices to the smaller bowl of water. Let the vegetables sit in the water for 30 minutes.
Line 2 baking sheets with several layers of paper towels. Drain the vegetables and arrange them in a single layer on the towels. Pat the vegetables to remove any excess water.
First, Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.
Second, line 2 plates with paper towels.
Heat three (3) inches of oil in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it reaches 350 F using a deep-frying thermometer. This will take about 8 to 10 minutes.
Add about 1/2 cup of vegetable slices to the oil and fry until crisp and golden brown, about 2 minutes.
Remove the vegetables to the paper towels to drain.
First, remove the paper towels from the baking sheets and spread the fried vegetable chips in a single layer on the baking sheets. then place in the oven to keep warm.
Repeat with the remaining vegetables in batches, making sure to maintain the oil temperature of 350 F.
Put the warm chips in a large bowl, add the seasoning mixture of your choice, and toss lightly.
Our basic seasoning mixture from above: In a small bowl, combine the salt, garlic powder, and onion powder. Feel free to be creative here and try different spices on different batches.
Benefits of NOT Wasting Potatoes and Vegetables
In addition to saving the planet we all live on, when households save food through consumption, you personally save money. But more important is gaining the knowledge that one small action (throwing out just one potato with ‘eyes’) has a ripple effect in your own neighborhood.
- Water is conserved
- CO2E is contained.
- Landfills grow smaller.
- Your family learns an important lesson in community action–because not everyone in your neighborhood has enough nourishing food on their plates tonight.
Remember: Think before you buy food. Plan your meals and use every part that is edible to #StopFoodWaste.
For more benefits of stopping food waste go to the EPA.gov site here.
Who is Food Finders?
Food Finders is a food rescue nonprofit organization with a primary focus on reducing hunger while also reducing food waste. We coordinate the daily pick-up of donated excess food from grocers, restaurants, hospitals, schools, manufacturers, and more; food is then distributed directly and immediately to nonprofit recipients, such as pantries, shelters, youth programs, and senior centers, to be used for serving hot meals or as grocery distribution for people who are struggling and food insecure.
Our Food Rescue program ensures millions of pounds of wholesome food helps feed people, not landfills. Operating from a single headquarters in Orange County, California, we serve multiple counties within Southern California. By engaging a huge network of volunteers, we’re able to quickly scale and rescue enough food for 30,000 meals per day.