Why You Should Never Store Potatoes in the Fridge

Why You Should Never Store Potatoes in the Fridge

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Joseph Lamour
Oct 30, 2018
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman | Kitchn)

Potatoes are a very low-fuss vegetable. They don't bruise easily, they're cheap, and they're easy to prepare at home (hello, buttery mashed potatoes). But it turns out that how you store your potatoes is actually pretty important — and you're probably doing it wrong.

An article via English news outlet the Mirror reports that your future fries, knishes, or savory pancakes should be kept out of the refrigerator. And according to the Foods Standards Agency, (The UK version of the FDA) potatoes kept in the fridge are actually bad for your health.

"The most important food not to keep in the fridge are potatoes … " the Foods Standards Agency, says. "When these are stored in the fridge, the starch in the potato is converted to sugar. When baked or fried, these sugars combine with the amino acid asparagine and produce the chemical acrylamide, which is thought to be harmful."

Additionally, "Understandably people do store potatoes in the fridge in warmer climates and/or the summer to prevent spoiling," the Vegan Nutritionist told Kitchn via email. "This, however, shouldn't be encouraged." Why? Well, let's delve into the science of it all.

The Science Behind Storing Your Potatoes in the Fridge

Acrylamide is a carcinogen and it occurs in a range of foods, like coffee and potatoes. YouTuber Dr. Eric Berg, who focuses on weight loss through nutritional and natural methods, covers the basics of acrylamide in a short informative clip.

Acrylamide comes from higher-temperature cooking, with high carbs and an amino acid (called asparagine). At 248°F, this all creates a plastic substance called acrylamide.

According to the National Institutes of Health, acrylamide has been connected with cancer, but while there is a correlation, the details are still unclear. While "food and cigarette smoke are the major sources of acrylamide exposure for people in the general population," according to NIH, the substance occurs in some foods.

"The major food sources of acrylamide, " NIH continues, "are french fries and potato chips; crackers, bread, and cookies; breakfast cereals; canned black olives; prune juice; and coffee." Cigarettes contain about five times more of the stuff, so while it's less in food, it's still substantial.

Should I Be Panicking About This?

I have to admit, when I first saw this, I got a little panicked — I have only refrigerated potatoes since I could buy 'em. And cigarettes containing the same anything as my potato skins isn't at all appetizing. But, as chiropractor Dr. Eric Berg says in the short clip, "It's almost impossible to avoid every single poison and toxin," especially ones which are microscopic.

Berg, via his YouTube channel, also tells his two-million-plus subscribers that eating other vegetables (especially cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cabbage), helps to offset the asparagine/acrylamide you consume.

"You can also reduce acrylamide levels," Vegan Nutritionist Wyles suggests, "by soaking potatoes in water for 30 minutes before frying them (make sure to properly dry before placing in oil)."

As for the fridge, maybe it's best to err on the side of caution and just keep them in a cool and dark place. I'll be popping my potato sack in the pantry for now!

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