From storage blunders to cooking mishaps, learn what not to do with your spuds.

Alex Loh
April 11, 2021
Advertisement

I am a firm believer that potatoes can make any meal better. Whether it's Potato Hash with Sausage & Fried Egg or Loaded Baked Potato Soup, potatoes are a delicious addition to your plate. While potatoes are often called a "bad" or "unhealthy" vegetable, the spud actually has some great health benefits including being high in fiber (learn why one dietitian never leaves the store without them).

To help you make the most of your spuds, we break down some of the most common potato blunders—from storing them improperly to cooking mishaps. Learn how to fix these five potato mistakes so you can enjoy potatoes at any meal.

5 Potato Mistakes—and How to Fix Them

Choosing the Wrong Kind of Potato

There's an endless variety of potatoes to choose from. From the colorful purple potatoes to the oblong fingerling potatoes, it's important to choose the right spud for your dish as different potato varieties are best suited to different purposes. When choosing potatoes, the most important thing to consider is texture. Due to the levels of starch, potatoes will either remain intact or fall apart when cooked. Potatoes that stay together are categorized as "moist, waxy" while potatoes that fall apart are "dry, mealy," according to Gardener's Supply Company.

a baking dish with potatoes and cheese

For baked potatoes, mashed potatoes or french fries, you'll want a dry, mealy potato like a russet, which will turn fluffy on the inside. Meanwhile for soups and potato salads, a waxy potato like a Red Bliss is the best choice because it will hold its shape. Waxy potatoes are also a good choice for casseroles, gratins and roasted potato dishes including smashed potatoes and melting potatoes.

Or, you could choose an all-purpose potato because it can be used in any dish with delicious results. Yukon Golds are the most common and are great to have on hand for any potato occasion.

Storing Potatoes in the Fridge

If your spuds normally hang out in the fridge, they need to be moved ASAP. The temperature in your fridge is too cold for the vegetable and will turn the starches into sugar. Instead, store your potatoes in a cool, dark location that will promote air circulation. Learn more about how to store potatoes properly. (Hint: Do not put them next to your onions.)

Throwing Away Sprouted Potatoes

If your potato has sprouted, it's still OK to eat! Sprouts often occur because of improper storage conditions, so just remove the sprouts and your potato is good to go. If your potato also has a green spot on the skin, you should discard that area as well as the greening signals the formation of solanine, a compound which can have a bitter taste and be toxic in large amounts.

Peeling the Skin

Put the peeler down and step away from the potato. Keeping the skin on the potato not only provides texture in a dish, but there are also health benefits to the exterior of the spud. One medium potato (6 ounces) contains 4 grams of fiber, most of which is found in the skin. Fiber is an important nutrient that can lower your risk of heart disease, keep you regular and help you feel satiated for longer periods of time.

Cooking Mistakes

When it comes to cooking potatoes, you can boil them, fry them, roast them and more for a tasty dish. But with so many different ways to cook the vegetable, there are also many ways to make small mistakes with your spud. Check out these simple solutions to common potato problems.

potato salad

Mashed Potatoes

If you find yourself with a pile of lumpy mashed potatoes, it's probably because you undercooked the potatoes. So next time, make sure your potatoes have been cut the same size, which will ensure even cooking and a smooth texture when you go to mash. Check out five other mashed potato mistakes and how to fix them.

Boiled Potatoes

When you're boiling potatoes for sides like Three-Herb Potato Salad or Garlic-Rosemary Smashed Potatoes, it's important to cook the potatoes until they're just tender. Undercooked potatoes will be crunchy while overcooked potatoes will fall apart. In both cases, the solution is to cut the vegetable into same-size pieces to ensure even cooking. The potatoes are done when they are pierced easily with a fork. Just be sure to drain them immediately to prevent further cooking.

Roasted Potatoes

There is nothing better than a creamy-on-the-inside, crispy-on-the-outside roasted potato, and achieving this perfect potato doesn't have to be complicated. Rather than trying to brown your potatoes under the broiler, which can quickly go south if you look away, try preheating your sheet pan with some oil (Emily Blunt swears by this method). When the potatoes hit the hot surface, they'll crisp and brown evenly so you won't have to pick over the pan searching for the crispiest potatoes (I can't be the only one who does this, right?).