St. Patrick's Day means everything has a tinge of green about it, but what about Ireland's favorite humble spud? Should we eat green potatoes?
St. Patrick's Day for some people can't start without some green treats - be it a Shamrock Shake, a green bagel, or green beer!
There are all sorts of other green treats – courtesy of both nature and food coloring – to keep you in the Irish spirit throughout the day, but there’s one Irish favorite you must avoid at all costs is green: potatoes.
Potatoes (solanum tuberosum) turn green and produce sprouts when exposed to sunlight or extreme temperatures. The green itself is chlorophyll and is totally harmless, but indicates increased levels of a toxin called solanine.
All potatoes produce solanine as a defense against pests and fungus. Eating potatoes with high levels of solanine can cause potato plant poisoning.
According to the National Institute of Health-run website Medicine Plus, symptoms of potato plant poisoning include delirium, fever, hallucinations, headache, vision changes, nausea, vomiting, shock, loss of sensation and a drop in body temperature.
Potatoes that are green in parts and only lightly sprouted can be remedied – just cut away the sprouts and green areas until all margins are clear.
Potatoes that are fully green, however, should be discarded. A study from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln revealed that 16oz of fully green potato (the size of a medium to large baked potato) would be enough to poison a person weighing 100 pounds. The bitter taste of green potatoes is also a natural deterrent.
While some studies have shown the temperatures reached when potatoes are deep-fried to be enough to lessen the levels of solanine, boiling potatoes has little to no effect on the toxin.
If you simply must have green spuds, here’s a delicious and healthy take on Irish-Italian mashed potatoes, using dandelion greens (you can also use spinach) to create the green potato effect.
* Originally published in March 2015.
What's your favorite green treat for St. Patrick's Day? Let us know in the comments!