Dakota, Yukon Gold and Viking are just a few varieties of potatoes that are ideal for roasting. These cultivars all have a low sugar content and waxy texture that allows them to hold their shape during the roasting process. Like any other potato, a roasting potato develops eyes and sprouts the longer it is in storage; neither look appetizing if left on the potato during roasting. But, when it comes to the removal of the eye of the potato, aesthetics are the least of your concerns.
What Is a Potato Eye?
When you look at a roasting potato, what you are actually seeing is a tuber. Tubers develop eyes, also called nodes, during storage. These eyes eventually form sprouts that, if left to grow, will form new plants. According to Dr. Chiwon Lee of North Dakota State University, how soon the eyes develop after harvesting is completely dependent on the potato cultivar. If you cut the tuber into pieces, leaving the eyes and sprouts intact, the tuber becomes a plantable seed.
Take a good look at the potato before roasting. According to an article in "Eating Well" magazine, if the potato has sprouted, yet still feels firm when you squeeze it, it is safe to eat -- just remove the eyes and sprouts before cooking. Exposed to light, the tuber, eyes and sprouts turn green and develop a dangerous compound called solanine. Solanine is toxic, and so is the potato once the green develops below the skin. Throw it away, eyes or no eyes.
Removing the Eyes
As long as you have a paring knife or potato peeler, eye removal is a piece of cake. Simply work the tip of the knife or the tip of the potato peeler under the eye and pop it out. If you miss a few eyes don't worry. As long as they are not green, they are safe to eat, according to scientists at the Argonne National Laboratory. The worst that will happen is the eyes will turn black during roasting.
You can fend off the sprouting process for an extended period by properly storing your roasting potatoes. If you tend to leave your potatoes out on the counter, you are just asking for sprouting to occur before you even get a chance to cook the potatoes. Instead, store the potatoes in a cool, dark place such as a cellar with good air circulation. Under these conditions, your roasting potatoes will last a good 10 to 12 weeks.
- North Dakota State University: Potato Propagation
- Eating Well: Potatoes Healthy Food Guide
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: Potato Plant Poisoning -- Green Tubers and Sprouts
- North Dakota State University: Potatoes -- From Garden to Table
- Newton and Ask a Scientist: Potato Eyes and Edibility
- Williams-Sonoma: All About Potatoes
- Photo Credit Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images