Why are potatoes often bitter?

26 posts in this topic

Posted

I don't get this.

I don't eat a lot of potatoes, but when I do cook them I am really in the mood.

and yet, far too often, the results are so bitter!

boiled, roasted, doesn't seem to make a difference. I don't peel them. I usually buy "waxy" potatoes (instead of the bigger, starchy baking potatoes). I also know enough to check them for green spots before cooking.

Anyone else have this problem? What is it?

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Posted

You're only supposed to eat the skins of "neue Kartoffeln" (the new spring/summer harvest). Regular potatoes may have been stored for months before being sold.

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Posted

Solanine can be present and produce a bitter taste even if the potatoes have no green spots (yet). Better to peel them or try another brand. Where are you buying yours and how do you store them?

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Posted

I buy the waxy type usually, which are in the class of "new" potatoes by my American understanding of the term, with very thin skins that are should be fine without peeling them.

I buy them loose, in small amounts, usually from smaller veg markets but sometimes from rewe. I store them on a lower shelf in my kitchen, in an old bamboo steamer basket with a lid. I eat them within a week and a half max. I have been trying different varieties as a) it's tempting to try something new and b ) I have not found any that are particularly good yet. These are often the long, thin, "finger" potatoes, but sometimes the more ordinary, round, red variety. I get the small ones - maybe two bites. They seem fresh, unblemished, but...eh, too often they just taste bad!

Time of year does not seem to matter, though I'm surprised that new potatoes could be harvested in spring/early summer? When I've grown them they're not ready til late summer/early fall.

Anyway, westvan, I think your comment must explain it. I'm just having a hard time grasping how I could have such consistently bad luck ;)

luckily sweet potatoes are in abundance right now and they are swoon-inducingly delicious

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Posted

I have been buying the small red potatoes at Rewe that come in a small net bag and am really happy with the taste of them. Have finished my 2nd bag of them so far and not a bad potato yet. They are more mealy than waxy, but I would still use them in a potato salad. They are 1.99 € a bag, but worth it. The red color will make them perfect for Valentines Day too!

I hardly ever peel my potatoes, unless they are truly old looking. Have always picked out my own at the local Turkish market to get the size I want. They seem to have decent potatoes all year round. The local Farmers Market in Frankfurt sells some tasty spuds too, and at a good price.

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Posted

I usually buy "waxy" potatoes (instead of the bigger, starchy baking potatoes).

regardless of color, size, shape all potatoes contain starch.

Potatoes and terminology have been discussed in this Potato Terminology: I need a tutorial, although it might not answer your question about the bitterness which I personally have not experienced, it does make for a useful reference with regards to different types and techniques used in Germany.

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Posted

thanks percy - I will check that out.

of course any potato terminology I currently use is American. We distinguish between waxy/new potatoes and starchy potatoes.

that should not in any way suggest that we don't grasp that both types contain starch ;)

ETA: to avoid confusion, my "starchy" potatoes are being referred to as "floury" in that thread.

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Posted

Maybe you are more sensitive than most to the solanine in the potatoes? If nobody else finds the potatoes as bitter as you, this might be an indication.

There are other foods besides potatoes in the "nightshades" group so you could see if they also taste bitter to you (and not to others).

As well as potatoes you could test peppers, paprika, tomatoes and aubergines/eggplants.

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Posted

Considering Germany is supposed to be the land of the potato I have to say I always found the only spuds available in supermarkets very disappointing. Variety is also stunningly lacking. They have never even heard of a King Edward. I believe the red jobs mentioned above are Alsatian ptotatoes and I agree they are about the best around - but not the tastiest you will have had. You can find them on Munich markets at 5 Euros a kilo - I kid you not - so if you see them for 1.99 that is actually quite good...

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Posted

Without actually seeing the package or potato the most common red potatoes in German supermarkets at this time of year are from the "Laura" variety. The other red varieties are "Chancellor" or "Cherie" but never heard of "Alsatian".

King Edwards along with Maris Pipers have a white creamy like flesh which tend to be popular in the UK where as germans tend to prefer a more yellow flesh type potato.

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Posted

Our local supermarket sometimes has a purple potato variety which are great fun! When you cook them, the water goes bright green and they fade in colour a little. But they mash up to make a lovely purple-blue mash potato. The kids love it :)

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Posted

Why are potatoes often bitter?

They get a bumb rap, being disregarded as food for the poor, or pig feed. It's enough to turn anyone bitter.

As westvan said, possibly your potatoes were exposed to light or heat and begain to produce solanine. It's not just how you store them, it's the whole transport chain.

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Posted

There's a brand of potatoes from France that I buy since the local brands sold in stores here, regardless of the type of potato, seem to be 45% potato and 55% bitter tasting dark spots that I spend an hour coring out so the potato will actually taste like just potato.

You can get them from Globus, look in some of the other big supermarkets like Kaufhof for them (you'll see the Francais on the label and the thinner skin on the potatoes), or have some military friends toss you a few since the also seem to stock this brand. I think I might have seen them at an Edeka or two as well. I'll hop back in with a pic the next time my wife's family is feening for my Heart-Attack Mash.

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Posted

...

As well as potatoes you could test peppers, paprika, tomatoes and aubergines/eggplants.

Don't forget tomacco!

Seriously though, tobacco is in the deadly nightshade family as well.

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Posted

http://pommedeterre-alsace.blogspot.fr/

Alsatian potatoe link...

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Posted

Maybe you are more sensitive than most to the solanine in the potatoes? If nobody else finds the potatoes as bitter as you, this might be an indication.

There are other foods besides potatoes in the "nightshades" group so you could see if they also taste bitter to you (and not to others).

As well as potatoes you could test peppers, paprika, tomatoes and aubergines/eggplants.

I actually have wondered if it's me and not the potatoes. I definitely don't have issues with the other nightshades - once in a while I get a bitter eggplant but very rarely. The only other food I have this problem with is zucchini/courgettes but that seems it could be related to how fresh they are.

I've never been tremendously "into" potatoes, so maybe it's a personal physiology thing that has gone to a new level. And good to point out that so far I don't have any reality checks, as when I cook at home it's usually just me.

And indeed! I do usually try to buy "local" potatoes, which some indicate are just crap? I'll look for some french potatoes next time and see if I notice a difference.

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Posted

http://pommedeterre-alsace.blogspot.fr/

Alsatian potatoe link...

Thanks for the link, but did it not occur to you that the reason they are so expensive at the Market in Munich is because they are imported from France. The reason they cost 1.99 kilo here in Germany is because they are most probably 1 of the 3 german varieties I previously mentioned.

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Posted

Guess so. The stinky cheese that costs 11 Euros a kilo in France goes for 30 odd at the same market...

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Posted

http://pommedeterre-alsace.blogspot.fr/

Alsatian potatoe link...

FL my French isn't the best but isn't that just a site for potatoes grown in Alsace and all the potato recipes there are in the area? I didn't see anything mentioning a variety.

And indeed! I do usually try to buy "local" potatoes, which some indicate are just crap? I'll look for some french potatoes next time and see if I notice a difference.

Where are you based? I've certainly had no problem finding nice potatoes here but then again I don't buy vegetables in the supermarket. Although there isn't the same selection of floury potatoes (which, apparently, Irish people tend to prefer, whereas Germans seem to be more fond of the waxy ones) here, I can still usually get some at my local market.

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Posted

germans tend to prefer a more yellow flesh type potato.

My 70-something year old father in law had an explosive rant a couple of years ago when he purchased some potatoes that turned out to be white. He could not believe his eyes. Potatos are yellow! I've bought potatoes all my life and they should be yellow!!!

I think he was mostly annoyed because they spuds were floury, and hence fell apart when he followed his Bavarian potato salad recipe that calls for boiling potatoes for as long as it takes to wander off and potter round a bit in the garden.

Anyway, original question - bitter spuds? No idea, but let's be honest, the predominate taste when eating potatoes should be the taste of butter. For mash, I personally use a 50/50 mix of spuds and butter for example. That's all spuds are for ever here; vehicles for delivering more butter into your belly.

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Posted

I don'think I have ever had a "bitter" potato,can a potato be bitter? and like the Don says butter and salt

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Posted

I had some the other day and also thought they tasted bitter. Then read this thread. Maybe it is the latest potato disease. A few years back they were all rotting from the inside. That seems to have passed.

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Posted

Coming from a company that specializes in internal quality grading of fruit and vegetables I can tell you that French potato farmers grow cosmetically good looking potatoes for the public, and have smaller patches on their farms for the potatoes the farmers actually eat which are not so pretty but taste better.

In Germany it is every man for himself and not a lot of investment is pushed to ensure a good potato is produced for the consumer, where as in the UK the farmers work together to ensure the price is constant and if they don't get that price they all work together to stop the supply to the supermarkets etc, this keeping the price good and more money back to the famrer to ensure the potato is a product they invest heavy in to see the consumer happy.

As for the bitter taste,it sounds like it is your taste buds and not the product if you have tried different varieites and all give you that bitter taste, but also could have something to do with the chemicals used to protect the plant from all the possible diseases that can occur in pototoes like ZC which can stunt the growth of the potato and increase the sugars so when fried it can burn giving acrylimide which can cause cancer. In CA if you buy a burnt fry now, you can sue the supplier.

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Posted

Interesting.

We haven't experienced bitter potatoes but have had some that tasted very sweet and I suspect they had been stored improperly somewhere along the way.

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Posted

I got some sickly sweet ones recently, frost damage I think.

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