Potato as a heart


Single Ventricle


My baby was just diagnosed with a single ventricle. What does this mean?


The normal heart has two pumping chambers or ventricles. “Single ventricle” refers to congenital heart defects where one of these chambers is absent or very small, or defects where the partition between the two pumping chambers is missing. These defects are often called hypoplastic left heart or hypoplastic right heart. Hypoplastic left heart includes both aortic and/or mitral atresia (absence of the valves on the left side of the heart). Hypoplastic right heart includes a wide range of defects with a small or absent tricuspid valve or pulmonary valve (the valves on the right side of the heart). In addition, a single ventricle occurs if there is no partition between the two pumping chambers. These defects can result in severe heart failure (not enough blood to the body) or severe cyanosis (not enough blood to the lungs). All of these defects require a common treatment designed to ensure blood flow to both the lungs and the body. Sometimes this requires limiting blood flow to the lungs and creating a new blood vessel to provide blood flow to the body. Other times, operations are required to ensure blood flow goes to the lung arteries. Ultimately, most babies with single ventricle need two or three operations that result in the channeling of oxygen poor blood to the lungs and oxygen rich blood to the body. There are good surgical options for most babies with single ventricle and many children with this condition can do most normal childhood activities. Your pediatric cardiologist can give you the best information on the specifics of your child’s condition.

Sports Participation

My 10-year-old daughter had a hole in her heart repaired when she was 1. She has been healthy since then. Will she be able to participate in sports?

Questions about athletic participation in patients with heart problems are frequent. There are a wide variety of cardiac defects, surgical repairs, and sports. It is best for you to discuss with your pediatric cardiologist as to whether your daughter needs any restrictions from sports. This is particularly true if she wants to eventually participate at the high school or college level. Most children who have relatively simple cardiac defects, and who have had a good result after catheter or surgical repair can participate in at least some, if not all, athletic activities. Other children may have heart conditions that warrant some restrictions. Patients with pacemakers or implantable cardioverter/defibrillators (ICDs) may have restrictions not required for other patients with heart defects. Patients that are taking anticoagulants (drugs that decrease blood clotting) should also use caution and check with their physician about sports participation

Transposition of the Great Arteries (DTGA) and Genetics

We have a 1-year-old son who is doing well after surgery for transposition of the great arteries (DTGA). We’d like to have another child. Will our second child also have congenital heart disease?

Congenital heart disease is the most common birth defect. About eight out of every 1,000 babies (or 0.8 percent) will be born with some form of heart problem. Most of these problems, however, are milder than your son’s. For a couple who’s had one child with DTGA and has no other family members with transposition, the chance of having another child with DTGA increases slightly to about 18 in 1,000 or 1.8 percent. This is also about the same chance of this baby being born with a form of congenital heart disease other than DTGA. This gives a greater than 98 percent chance that the baby will be born with a normal heart.

If, however, other family members (first-degree relatives) have DTGA, other forms of transposition, or other forms of congenital heart disease, the chance that the baby will be born with DTGA may be higher. Transposition rarely runs in the family.

We don’t know why congenital heart defects like DTGA occur. The reason is presumed to be genetic, although a specific gene for DTGA hasn’t been identified yet. With regard to DTGA, some evidence exists that multiple genes as well as other factors may be involved.

Because you’ve had one child with a congenital heart disease, it may be helpful for you to have a fetal echocardiogram between 18 and 20 weeks gestation during your next pregnancy. This specialized ultrasound is done by a pediatric cardiologist and shows the developing heart. It should be able to exclude most forms of significant heart disease. Most often the fetal ultrasound is a reassurance that the baby’s heart is developing normally.

Tricuspid Valve Abnormalities

My 4-year-old son was evaluated for a heart murmur today and underwent an echocardiogram. The doctor told me he had mild tricuspid valve regurgitation. What does this mean? Should I be worried?

The tricuspid valve is one of four heart valves in the heart. This valve prevents blood from leaking backwards from the right ventricle (the chamber of the heart that pumps blood to the lungs) when this chamber squeezes.

Almost all children undergoing echocardiography (ultrasound of the heart) have a little bit of tricuspid valve leakage or regurgitation. This is often detected because newer echocardiography machines have technology sensitive enough to pick up a wide variety of normal signals from blood moving through the heart. Mild tricuspid valve leakage, in the absence of any other heart problems, is considered to be a normal finding and nothing to worry about.

Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD)

My 5-day-old son has been diagnosed with ventricular septal defect (VSD). The size of the hole is about 2 mm. Is this considered large or small, and what are long-term and short-term effects of VSD?

A ventricular septal defect (VSD) 2 mm in diameter is considered small. Because it is small, one would not expect your baby to have any problems. This VSD will likely close completely as your baby grows, depending somewhat on the precise location of the hole. This could occur quite soon (within months) or take a few years. In general, a VSD that has not closed by about age 5 will not close spontaneously. VSDs that are very small do not become big as babies grow.

Two complications from small VSDs are worth knowing about, both relatively rare. First, there is a small risk that a child or adult with a small VSD will develop an infection in the heart (endocarditis). These infections are bacterial and can occur after events when bacteria are in the blood.

The other complication from a small VSD depends on the precise location of the hole. People with a VSD immediately below the aortic valve (the valve at the exit from the left side of the heart to the body) have a small chance that one of the leaflets of that valve may start to sag towards the hole over time. This rarely happens, but when it occurs, can lead to leakage of the valve. For the rare occasion that it does, your physician might recommend surgical closure of the small VSD to prevent further problems with the aortic valve.

Wandering Pacemaker

My 8-year-old son complained of chest pain and rapid heartbeat while taking a shower. This happened twice. He was on Flovent and Singulair for asthma. His doctor assures me that the medication had nothing to do with the chest pain. My son had an EKG and the pediatric cardiologist said it showed a wandering pacemaker and no further evaluation is necessary. Should I get a second opinion?

The diagnosis of wandering pacemaker refers to a type of heart rhythm with normal variations in heart rate. The pacemaker is an area of the heart responsible for initiating the heartbeat. It’s normally located in the upper part of the right atrium (the upper right chamber of the heart). Sometimes the wandering pacemaker can move from the high right atrium to the low right atrium.

Chest pain can be associated with an asthmatic condition. So, in your son’s case, chest pain alone would not be a cause for concern about his heart. Some asthma medications can also cause a transient increase in heart rate, but the medicines your son is taking generally don’t do this. Rarely, patients may experience a heart rhythm problem called tachycardia (an abnormally fast heart rate).

If your son’s perceived fast heart rate persists, your doctor may want to consider more testing. A transtelephonic EKG monitor is a device that can be used when symptoms occur. The patient presses a button on the recorder and the heartbeat tracing is saved in the monitor’s memory. This tracing can then be sent over the telephone to a cardiologist. Another test is called a Holter monitor. It records an EKG continuously for 24 to 48 hours, while the child is at home, both active and asleep. Either of these two tests can then be analyzed to detect any abnormal heartbeats and determine whether further testing or treatment is needed.

Your son’s symptoms are most likely related to his asthma, but if these continue your doctor may want to consider more testing, including the two tests just described. In addition, if your son experiences any dizziness or fainting, your doctor should be notified at once.

It’s important that you’re comfortable with the diagnosis of the first pediatric cardiologist who examined your child. If you aren’t, then seek another opinion

Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome

My son was diagnosed with WPW. What is this? Will he need treatment? Will he need surgery or a pacemaker?

Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome is a heart rhythm problem that can usually be detected on an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG).

Drs. Wolff, Parkinson and White published the first article about this type of rhythm in 1930. Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) means that there is an extra electrical connection from the top chambers of the heart (atria) to the bottom chambers (ventricles).

Sometimes, an abnormal rhythm occurs when heart electrical signals travel in the wrong direction, from the ventricles to the atria, across the extra electrical connection. This heart rhythm causes the heart to beat too fast (tachycardia). Sometimes patients may feel dizzy or nauseous during tachycardia, and fainting may occasionally occur. Medication may be used to slow the heart rate. In rare patients, the condition can be life-threatening.

If medication fails to control the tachycardia, or in patients at higher risk of life-threatening events, or if patients are averse to medical therapy, a procedure called catheter ablation may be used. It’s done in the cardiac catheterization laboratory under sedation or anesthesia. It involves inserting several specialized catheters into the blood vessels in the groin. These catheters can locate the origin of the abnormal heartbeats in the atrium. They abolish the extra electrical connection using radiofrequency waves (heating) or cryoablation (freezing). Since the 1980s, the procedure has been performed in tens of thousands of children safely and effectively, and provides a permanent cure more than 90 percent of the time. Some patients and physicians prefer ablation over medications as first-line therapy for WPW.

It’s important for each patient to discuss questions and concerns directly with their cardiologist to understand how these recommendations apply to their specific circumstance.

Cal Thomas recently published (it was in the Chicago Tribune today) a poignant remembrance of his brother, Marshall, who lived his life with Downs’ Syndrome, and recently passed away. You can find it here.
Mr. Thomas describes how his brother enriched his parents’ and his life. “They might have taken more vacations, owned a fancier house and driven a luxurious car, but before we valued things more than people, they valued Marshall more than any tangible thing. And that care rubbed off on me and other family members.”
Mr. Thomas says that despite the hardship of caring for a disabled man who lived 40 years beyond his life expectancy, “we never regretted that decision because of the joy Marshall brought to our lives.”
Mr. Thomas goes on to say, “In an age when we discard the inconvenient and unwanted in order to pursue pleasure and a life free of burdens, this may seem strange to some.

“I recall a line from the long-running Broadway musical, ‘The Fantastiks’: ‘Deep in December, it’s nice to remember, without a hurt the heart is hollow.’
“Marshall Thomas’ ‘hurts’ filled a number of hollow hearts.”
What a wonderful tribute to the true love that enlivens lives. Jean-luc Marion, in the article cited yesterday, observes that I truly love only when I gratuitously give the other space in which to appear. Since I have at my disposal no other space than my own, “I must take what is mine, take from myself, in order to open the space where the other may appear.” (p166).
“It is up to me to set the stage for the other, not as an object that I hold under contract and whose play I thus direct, but as the uncontrollable, the unforeseeable, and the foreign stranger who will affect me, provoke me, and — possibly — love me.”
This is Jesus’ “command” to us, as quoted in John 13:34: “I give you a new commandment: that you may love one another, that just as I have loved you, you too may love one another.”
We Christians need to wake up to what love means, for our spirits have closed on others:
“Recent US studies have indicated that when Down syndrome is diagnosed prenatally, 84% to 91% of those babies will be killed by abortion.” See Physicians For Life website.
The only way to change is to follow strictly Christ’s life-giving command to love, meaning to give others space out of my own. Then, as Cal Thomas’ memoir shows, the joy of loving can combine with the “hurt” to fill the hollow of our hearts.
Mother Teresa aptly called attention to how this command is satisfied. She said, “It is Jesus to whom we do everything; we love Jesus.” Cited in Giussani’s “How We Become Christian.”
Listen to Jerry Orbach sing “Try to Remember”
Listen to Ed Ames sing the same.
Listen to the Letterman sing the same.

Lyrics to Finale: Metaphor To Remember:
Love! You are love!
Better far than a metaphor
Can ever, ever be.
Love! (Love!)
You are love! (You are love!)
My mystery (My mystery)
Of love!
Deep in December,
It’s nice to remember,
Although you know the snow will follow.
Deep in December,
It’s nice to remember,
Without a hurt the heart is hollow.
Deep in December,
It’s nice to remember,
The fire of September that made us mellow.
Deep in December,
Our hearts should remember
And follow.

Archived – Potatoes

8. Internal Defects

8.4 Internal Discoloration (C) and (P)

For the purposes of scoring this defect in Canada, only the term internal discoloration will be used, even though the discoloration may be caused by various factors such as heat necrosis, net necrosis and internal brown spot, etc., with the exception of black heart, which has a tolerance established in the Regulations (Subsection 88 (f)).

U.S. inspectors will use the names of the following factors causing internal discoloration when describing this defect: net necrosis, stem-end browning, vascular discoloration, internal potato necrosis, internal brown spot, heat or drought necrosis, internal black spot, internal mahogany browning and internal pink to purple discoloration.

Internal discolouration can be caused by various disorders. They are mainly vascular discolourations, net necrosis, heat necrosis, internal brown spot or black heart. Some internal discolouration is associated with chilling or freezing injuries (see Section 7.9 for more information). In addition, it has been claimed that certain non-parasitic factors are sometimes involved. For example, chemical vine killing may produce internal discolouration similar to vascular discolouration, but usually a light brown, narrow ring results. Since inspectors are not pathologists, it will not be their duty to name the specific discolouration.

Vascular Discolouration: This disease is caused by a fungus and the symptoms are a slight discolouration of tissue below the stem end. Discolouration of the vascular ring appears as a slight netting or in some cases a severe brown coloured streaking in part or all of the vascular ring, sometimes extending nearly to the bud end of the tuber.

Net Necrosis: This discolouration is usually a result of current season infection with the leafroll virus. Tuber shape and external appearance may be perfectly normal, with net necrosis being seen only when the tuber is cut. The phloem tissue is more or less filled with a network of fine lines, usually brown in colour. This netting may extend only a short distance or throughout the entire potato. Discolouration increases in amount and severity during storage. The finer netting and presence of phloem discolouration differentiates it from the vascular type.

Heat Necrosis: The cause of this non-parasitic disease is the result of high temperatures, especially when vines die early on light sandy soil. Affected tubers show slate-grey to brown patches in tissue near and perhaps associated with the vascular system. There are no external symptoms and diagnosis depends on cutting the tubers.

Internal Brown Spot: This disease is probably due to a lack of adequate soil moisture during the latter part of the growing season. no external symptoms are evident. Groups of dead cells which are free from fungi and bacteria appear as irregular, dry, brown or rust-coloured spots scattered through the central portion of the tuber.

Mahogany Browning: This appears as reddish-brown areas or blotches in the flesh. They occur in irregular patches anywhere in the flesh. The margins are not definite, and no sharp lines exist between discoloured and normal tissue. The colour of affected tissue varies in intensity from light to reddish brown. The affected tissues are of normal texture. Varieties vary in susceptibility, but under sufficient exposure to chilling, temperatures (0°C to 1°C), most will develop some degree of mahogany browning.

Internal discolouration is scored when:

A) Canada No. 1

  1. any discolouration which cannot be removed without wasting more than 5% by weight of the potato; or
  2. there are more than the equivalent of three (3) scattered spots 3 mm (⅛ inch) in diameter on a potato that has a diameter of 63 mm (2 ½ inches) or a weight of 170 g (6 oz).

Correspondingly lesser or greater affected areas are allowed on smaller or larger potatoes.

B) Canada No. 2

  1. any discolouration which cannot be removed without wasting more than 10% by weight of the potato; or
  2. there are more than the equivalent of six (6) scattered spots 3 mm (⅛ inch) in diameter on a potato that has a diameter of 63 mm (2 ½ inches) or a weight of 170 g (6 oz).

Correspondingly lesser or greater affected areas are allowed on smaller or larger potatoes.


Last Spring I purchased seed potatoes from a local garden store. They grew well, but when I harvested them, I discovered that some had black areas inside the potato. This was true of the ‘Yukon Gold’ potatoes only. Do you think the seed potatoes may have contained a disease or is it possible the soil that I am raising them in contains a disease?

A: Several things can cause black, brown and rot-like conditions in the meat of potatoes. Some of them are diseases (blight and viral wilts), but some are related to growing conditions (soil nutrition, soil temperature, soil moisture).

The most common problem like this is called “hollow heart” and sometimes “black heart.” So going with the odds, my guess is that’s what you ran into. I’d have to get a closer look at the diseased area to nail it down, but Cornell University has an excellent web page with photos of 20 things that can go wrong with potatoes. Have a look to see if any of those looks and sounds familiar.

> If it is hollow heart, that often happens from planting too soon into cold soil or especially when rainy weather follows a dry spell. Very wet soil for an extended time can cause it, too.

Hollow heart isn’t a disease, so you don’t have to worry about a pathogen being in the soil to re-infect this year’s planting (assuming that’s what caused your blacking).

To head off hollow heart, wait until at least late March or early April to plant and try to keep the soil moisture evenly damp but not soggy.

Don’t cut your seed pieces too small either. I like two to three eyes in each of my pieces, usually meaning pieces about the size of a golfball.

Excess nitrogen can make potatoes more susceptible to hollow heart so don’t overdo that. If you haven’t run a soil test lately on your garden, this might be a good year to do that to see if things are looking balanced and sufficient.

Kits are available for $9-$10 at most garden centers, county Extension offices or online at http://www.aasl.psu.edu/SSFT.HTM.

And as for why your ‘Yukon Golds’ had the problem and your other varieties didn’t, that’s most likely because some varieties are more genetically prone to diseases and defects than others. ‘Yukon Gold,’ for instance, tests out as fairly susceptible to blights and wilts. It is a good-looking and good-tasting type, though…


Potato Products

Browse through our library of Frequently Asked Questions about potatoes:

How should I store potatoes? And how long can I keep them?

If you purchased potatoes in a plastic bag, the best thing to do is to remove them from the plastic bag and put them in a paper bag, cardboard box or basket. Store them in an area that is dark, and cool, but not cold, such as a pantry, cupboard, or basement. Never store potatoes in the refrigerator; their cold temperature will turn the starch in potatoes to sugar, giving them an off-flavor. Potatoes will keep for 4-6 weeks in a cool, dark area. Even if they begin to grow sprouts and start to look shriveled, they are still ok to eat. Cut the sprouts away and peel them for use in casseroles and soups.

What causes a potato to turn green?

An overexposure to any light source, the most common being sunlight or fluorescent lights. This causes the chemical solanine to accumulate in the skin of the Potato, turning it a green hue. This can also create a bitter taste, so it is best to cut away affected portions. The best way to avoid green potatoes, and keep them fresh, is to store them in a cool, dry, and dark location.

The potatoes I purchased are green.

There are two ways potatoes can turn green. One is a condition called “sunburn” which manifests itself as dark green spots and occurs due to a small area of the potato being exposed to sunlight while still in the ground. Rain or wind can move soil off potatoes that are growing close to the surface. Potatoes with this condition are usually picked out during the quality control process, but, from time to time, one can be missed. The second way is a condition called “light-struck” and occurs when the potatoes are exposed to light for an extended period of time. The light-struck condition sometimes occurs under the bright fluorescent lights in grocery stores and is manifested as a light green color covering most of the surface area of the potato, just under the skin. Both conditions are simply the potatoes’ natural reaction to light. They are still a living, breathing plant organism and the chlorophyll in the skin is reacting to light and turning the potatoes green. You are correct in that you shouldn’t eat the green portions. Just like other plants in the nightshade family (such as tomatoes and eggplant), green potatoes contain a small amount of toxin but are only harmful if eaten in very large amounts. However, it is still advisable not to eat a green potato as it has a bitter taste.

When shopping, look at the potatoes carefully to assure that you don’t buy a bag that has been light-struck. Stores should remove these from their shelves, but sometimes, they can be missed.

What are the best varieties for baking?

Russet, round white and red-skinned varieties all bake well. to learn more about the best use for each potato variety and the best variety for each type of potato recipe.

What are the best varieties for soups and salads?

Round white, red-skinned, yellow-flesh, purple, and fingerling varieties work best in soups and salads. to learn more about the best use for each potato variety and the best variety for each type of potato recipe.

I have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Are potatoes a good choice for me?

Potatoes are a great choice for anyone who needs to eat a gluten-free diet. Potatoes are naturally 100% gluten-free and provide healthy, non-processed carbohydrates as opposed to other starchy food choices.

Are there any food allergy concerns with potatoes?

Potatoes are not a known allergen. Nor is there any chance of known allergen cross-contamination in our packaging plant.

Are your potatoes genetically modified (GMO)?

While most potato varieties are hybrids, bred for characteristics such as flesh-color, skin color, or shape, there are no varieties on the market that are genetically modified for such things as pest resistance or increased shelf-life. Sterman Masser Inc.’s policy is that we will not support the sale of genetically-modified potato varieties.

When I started to peel my potatoes, I noticed small grey or black spots. Some of the spots even looked like mold.

These spots are called internal black spot and are essentially bruising that occurs from the potatoes lying against each other for an extended period of time. The moldy looking spots are a more serious condition that can develop from the bruises, called fusarium. The potatoes are still safe to eat, just cut the spots away. If there is an extensive amount of Fusarium, this can give the potatoes an off flavor.

When I cut my potatoes open, I noticed a brownish discoloration and the center seemed hollow. Sometimes, the center is black and seems decayed.

This is, in fact, a physiological condition called hollow heart. Hollow heart occurs when growing conditions abruptly change during the season. It can arise when the potato plants recover too quickly after a period of environmental or nutritional stress. When the tubers begin to grow rapidly, the tuber pith can die and/or pull apart leaving a void in the center. This condition is not a disease and is not harmful. From time to time, if potatoes are held in very warm conditions with little air, the tuber pith void can develop into a condition called blackheart, causing a decayed, black center. If you cut either condition away, you can still use the remaining healthy potato flesh.

While peeling my potatoes, I noticed a brownish discoloration at the one end.

You probably also noticed that this discoloration looked somewhat like netting. It is a condition called net necrosis and it occurs when the potatoes grow under conditions that are too dry. The vascular system at the stem end of the potato begins to break down, causing this brown discoloration. This condition is not harmful.

While slicing my potatoes, I noticed a brownish ring in the flesh all around the outside of the potatoes.

This condition, called vascular discoloration is similar to net necrosis. Dry conditions cause the vascular ring, which extends around the entire tuber, to discolor. This condition is not harmful.

The potatoes I bought have small, dark spots all over the skin.

Potatoes have small holes in their skins called “lenticels.” These are actually the orifices through which the tubers respire, or breathe. Excess moisture can cause the lenticels to swell. Then, when they shrink back to normal size, they become discolored. The potatoes are still fine to eat if they are peeled.

I opened a bag of potatoes and found a rotten one. Can I still eat the rest?

Yes. Just be sure to give the rest of the potatoes in the bag a good washing. And throw that stinky guy away.

What are “new” potatoes?

In general, new potatoes are any potatoes that are freshly harvested and immediately washed and packaged for sale, without being stored for more than a few days. New potatoes usually have a lower glycemic index than potatoes that have been stored for any length of time because starch content increases over time. They also tend to be smaller in size and are also known as “petite” potatoes.

Do I have to wash my potatoes before I prepare them?

Although most potato packing sheds do wash their product before bagging them, it is generally a good practice to wash potatoes (and any produce!) before preparing and eating the product.

Some of our products, such as our Side Delight Steamables, Bakeables and Grillables are ready to cook per the package directions. They have been triple washed, including a final sanitizing rinse, and packed in a clean room environment so they are ready to go right into the microwave or on the grill when you bring them home.

The potatoes I bought are starting to sprout!

Even after they are harvested, potatoes continue to be a living, breathing organism. They are doing what all organisms try to do – procreate. Sprouting is a natural process of potatoes and does not affect their edibility. In our potato packing sheds, potatoes are treated with a non-toxic chemical called Sprout Nip®, which delays most sprouting. You can still eat sprouted potatoes; just cut the sprouts away.

What is the difference between sweet potatoes and yams? I’ve always thought they were one and the same.

Sweet potatoes are a dicot (double embryonic seed leaf) plant from the morning glory family. There are many varieties of sweet potatoes with skin colors that can range from white to yellow, red, purple or brown. The flesh also ranges in color from white to yellow, orange or orange-red. Sweet potato varieties are classified as either “firm” or “soft.” When cooked, the firm varieties remain firm, while soft varieties become soft and moist. Yams are a monocot (single embryonic seed leaf) plant closely related to lilies and grasses. Native to Africa and Asia, yams vary in size from the size of a small potato up to the record size of 130 pounds. Yams are starchier and drier than sweet potatoes. So why the name confusion? In the early years of the United States, firm varieties of sweet potatoes were produced before soft varieties. When soft varieties were first commercially grown, there was a need to differentiate between the two. African slaves had already been calling the “soft” sweet potatoes “yams” because they resembled the yams in Africa. So, “soft” sweet potatoes were referred to as “yams” to distinguish them from firm varieties. Soft sweet potatoes may be labeled yams when sold in most produce sections, but they are true sweet potatoes. True yams are not generally sold in most U.S. supermarkets but can be found in international markets such as urban wholesale produce markets.

Onion Products

How can I reduce tearing when cutting an onion?

To reduce tearing when cutting onions, first chill the onions for 30 minutes. Then, cut off the top and peel the outer layers leaving the root end intact. (The root end has the highest concentration of sulphuric compounds that make your eyes tear.)

How should I store dry bulb onions when I get them home from the store?

Store dry bulb onions in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place. Do not store whole onions in plastic bags. Lack of air movement reduces storage life.

How do I store whole peeled onions?

Whole peeled onions should be properly refrigerated at 40°F or below. (Source: USDA)

After I cut or use part of an onion, how long will it keep?

Chopped or sliced onions can be stored in a sealed container in your refrigerator at the proper temperature of 40°F or below for 7 to 10 days (Source: USDA). For pre-cut fresh or frozen products, always use and follow manufactures “use by” dates.

Why do my onions taste bitter after sautéing?

High heat makes onions bitter. When sautéing onions, always use low or medium heat.

How do I remove the smell of onions from my hands and/or cooking equipment?

Rub your hands or cooking equipment with lemon juice. If your pots or pans are made of aluminum, cast iron, or carbon-steel, rub them with salt instead.

What should I look for when purchasing onions?

When purchasing onions, look for dry outer skins free of spots or blemishes. The onion should be heavy for its size with no scent.

I want to use raw onion. How can I reduce the pungency?

To reduce the pungency, sharpness or aftertaste of a raw onion, cut them the way you plan to use them and place into a bowl of ice water to stand for 1 1/2 hours before draining. If time is at a premium, place onions in a strainer or sieve. Run water through onions for at least a minute.

Are onions healthy?

Yes. Onions are high in vitamin C and are a good source of fiber and other key nutrients. Onions are fat-free and low in calories, yet add abundant flavor to a wide variety of foods.

Courtesy of the National Onion Association.

Holes inside a sweet potato

“Sweet potatoes remain metabolically active after they are harvested,” Francis said. “As the tubers continue the respiration process, their starches are converted to sugars, hence the sweet taste.”

Another purpose of the curing process is to heal any abrasions or bruises the sweet potatoes sustain during harvesting, he said. As the potato cures, a corky layer of cells develops just below the surface of the abrasions, which serves as a barrier against disease-carrying organisms.

The curing process can begin immediately after sweet potatoes are harvested. First, remove them from the field as soon as possible to prevent sunscald damage.

“If you are harvesting during moist conditions, allow the soil around the roots to dry for an hour or two,” Francis said. “Though you can remove excess soil around the roots, remember not to wash freshly harvested potatoes.”

Store the potatoes in a warm, humid room for four to seven days. Ideal conditions for curing are a temperature of 85 degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of 90 percent.

“As these conditions may be difficult to establish inside a household, consider using a shed on the farm or a garage,” Francis said. “Some farmers can achieve the correct conditions for curing in a room with a space heater, thermostat and humidifier.”

If the temperature decreases during the curing process, increase the number of days the sweet potatoes spend curing. If it is 80 degrees Fahrenheit outside, let the potatoes cure for up to 10 days, he said.

Good ventilation is also important in the curing process, as it can prevent a buildup of the carbon dioxide that is released by the tubers. The circulation of air also enables excess condensation to escape, which prevents rotting.

After sweet potatoes have cured for the correct amount of time, they should be stored at an approximate temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity range of 85-90 percent, Francis said.

“Keep the storing conditions constant, as fluctuations will cause the deterioration of root quality,” he said. “Low temperatures cause the potatoes to develop too tough a center, while high temperatures will cause the roots to sprout, shrivel and become pithy.”

Francis said sweet potatoes stored in cool, constant conditions have a shelf life of up to several months.

For more information on cultivating and preserving sweet potatoes or other tubers, contact your local county extension agent or visit www.uaex.edu.

(Emphasis mine.)

So, while they probably wouldn’t have hurt you, they were obviously inferior quality and most likely wouldn’t have tasted very good. Good call on tossing them!

Uconnladybug’s Blog

Why are there holes or sunken lesions on my potatoes? Well, there are a few possible explanations, depending on the circumstances. Are the holes on the surface of the tubers or in the center? Are they wide or narrow? Either insects or environmental factors are the likely causes.

White grub damage on sweet potato (L) and a white potato cultivar (R).

If there are shallow or deep holes on the surface of the potato that are not associated with decay, it may be the result of feeding by white grubs. White grubs are the larvae of several different beetles and are most widely known for the damage they do to turfgrass by feeding on the roots. Damage to vegetable crops and herbaceous ornamentals most often occurs in new gardens that were previously grassy areas, or gardens that have grassy weeds. Sufficient control is usually obtained by managing grassy weeds, or by rotating crops with legumes (beans, peas). Tilling the soil may reduce populations by killing the larvae either by physical injury or by exposing them to predators and the elements. This is best done from May through June for older larvae and from late July through September for the younger larvae. Avoid injuring the roots and developing tubers of the plants! White grubs were identified as the cause of these holes on potato and sunken, chewed out lesions on sweet potato. White grubs may also cause damage to other root crops including beet, carrot, turnip, and rutabaga. They will feed on the roots of other vegetables and ornamental annuals and perennials. Strawberry roots are also attractive to white grubs. White grub damage on vegetables is discussed in more detail in this fact sheet.

Another insect pest that will chew holes in root crops such as potato and carrot is the wireworm. Wireworms are the larval stage of click beetles, so named because of the ‘clicking’ sound they make when they right themselves after accidentally winding up on their backs. These pests have life cycles that vary from 2-6 years depending on the species, so multiple stages of the insect can be present at any given time. Like white grubs, wireworms are often more of a problem in areas that were previously grassy or in fields or gardens with grassy weeds. Many of the adult click beetles prefer to lay eggs near the roots of grasses so they are often associated with weedy fields. When wireworms attack root crops at an early stage, deformity may result. If feeding occurs later on more developed tubers (or carrots, etc), damage will be in the form of holes or tunnels. You can check for wireworms by digging holes the size of a softball and filling them with chunks of carrot or potato, covering, and checking in 4-5 days to see if they have been attracted to the bait. Complete control of this pest where it is established is very difficult. When numbers are high, insecticides are used. Another option for partial control is the use of biocontrol agents such as beneficial nematodes. Check out this fact sheet for more on wireworms.

Cavities in the center of potato tubers that appear healthy on the outside are caused by a condition known as ‘hollow heart’. The cavities are irregular or angular in shape and have brown edges. This is associated with rapidly growing tubers. This is most severe when conditions favor rapid tuber development, especially following drought stress. Hot dry weather followed by cooler weather with rain may result in these cavities. Practices that inhibit rapid spurts of tuber growth will reduce the incidence of hollow heart. This can also be worse where there is a marginal potassium (K) deficiency in the soil.

Hollow heart of potato can be reduced in several ways. Some cultivars are more prone to this condition, so trying other cultivars is one option. Use closer plant spacing to increase competition between plants which will reduce the likelihood of rapid growth spurts in the potatoes. Hill the potatoes. Maintain uniform and consistent moisture levels in the soil using irrigation during dry periods if possible. Have the soil tested and add potassium and other nutrients as recommended. Click here for more info on hollow heart.

J. Allen

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