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Foods -- Vegetables

Do you know why new potatoes would have a musty odor before and after they are cooked?

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This musty odor could be due to one of two reasons. 1) Potatoes being a tuber are in contact with soil while growing. Therefore, the musty odor could simply be due to inadequate cleaning. Wash the potatoes under running water by rubbing with your fingers or using a vegetable brush. 2) An earthy taste is caused by the presence of a powdery scab or by growing the plants in soil that has been treated with lindane. Powdery scab is the presence of round patches with raised margins on the skin of the potato. Powdery scab is much less frequent than common scab. It is most severe on heavy soils under wet conditions. Scabs are powdery on the surface. There is no treatment to prevent this in future harvests. The best prevention is to practice crop rotation and not grow susceptible varieties, e.g., Cara, Estima, and Pentland Crown. It appears that they are safe to eat. Common scab appears as ragged-edged patches. The disease is only skin deep and the eating quality is unaffected.

PREPARED BY: Angela M. Fraser, Ph.D., Associate Professor/Food Safety Specialist, NC State University in July 2004

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