Exactly How to Scrub a Potato (and clean it)

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With potatoes being one of our most beloved and stable ingredients, perhaps it’s surprising that we don’t all know how to scrub potatoes.

But not to worry, only some of us were taught this cooking preparation tip, and this article is here to help!

It’s always possible to learn how to clean potatoes; this handy technique will come in handy for years.

Washing potatoes
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For example, you may have just discovered that it’s essential to scrub potatoes before cooking them.

Or maybe you’ve always known but have yet to try or want to perfect your scrubbing technique!

Thankfully, it’s quick and easy, so it’s an easy step to add to your usual cooking routine. 

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Why Should I Scrub My Potato?

While it can be tempting to skip this step before preparing potatoes, there are a couple of reasons why it’s essential to scrub a potato.

Firstly, scrubbing helps to remove any obvious dirt from the potato.

And yes, you should still wash them, even if you plan to peel them.

Washing potatoes
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But secondly, it can help remove pesticides from the potato.

Unfortunately, some pesticides will likely be absorbed into the potato and thus unable to be removed.

But cleaning your produce is the best way to remove other contaminants, alongside buying organic fruits and vegetables.

Finally, our groceries pass through many different people as they travel from the farm to the grocery store, so cleaning them gets rid of any potential bacteria.

If you’re wondering if you still need to wash organic potatoes, the answer is yes.

While they’re less likely to have come in contact with pesticides, they’re still just as likely to hold dirt or bacteria.

What to Use to Scrub a Potato

Ideally, you will have a vegetable brush or vegetable scrubber on hand to scrub potatoes before using them.

The best potato scrubber will have firm but flexible bristles (this one is our favorite!).

Scrubbing potato
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However, suppose you’re wondering how to scrub a potato without a potato brush.

Another option is to keep a clean rough-textured cloth or scouring pad on hand to scrub potatoes.

In that case, you could also use a clean kitchen towel.

Don’t use any soap or cleaning products to clean the potato!

Experts instruct that you should only use water and the item you’ve chosen to scrub the potato with.

It’s also vital that you don’t use a brush, cloth, or scrubber that you’ve previously used to wash dishes.

These could harbor soap residue, making them the wrong choice for cleaning produce.

No matter what variety of potatoes you’re cooking, you can clean them all the same way.

However, waxier potatoes – such as baby potatoes – can just be scrubbed with your fingertips.

Otherwise, follow the same steps outlined below.

How to Scrub Potatoes

Before handling your potatoes, wash your hands with soap and warm water.

The Food and Drug Administration recommends washing them thoroughly for around 20 seconds before continuing.

It’s also worth cleaning surfaces or utensils before handling food with them. 

Next, rinse your potatoes under running water to loosen any dirt.

You can rinse potatoes with either cold or lukewarm water.

Alternatively, you could place your potatoes in a large bowl of lukewarm water.

Washing potatoes
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Leave them to soak for around 20-minutes – this will also help loosen any dirt.

The best way to scrub a potato is using your vegetable brush.

Use a circular motion as you take the brush over all sides of the potato and potato skin.

If the potatoes are particularly dirty, rinse off the brush under cold water each time it gets dirty.

If the potato has any hard-to-reach spots, for example, if it’s an odd shape or in the eyes of the potato, make sure you spend extra time in these areas.

Dirt often gets lodged in these tricky spots and is only sometimes visible.

Try not to be too rough when scrubbing the potatoes, as this could tear the skin.

Instead, a thorough but gentle scrub will do the job.

It’s straightforward to tell when potatoes are clean.

The potato skin may now be lighter, and there will no longer be signs of dirt.

Your scrubbing brush will now stay clean when being brushed over the surface of the potato.

After scrubbing, give the potato a final rinse under running water.

Turn the potato around under the tap a couple of times.

Rinsing again will wash away and remove any remaining particles from the skin.

It’s also a good idea to thoroughly rinse your vegetable scrubber, so it’s ready to use next time. 

Now your potatoes are clean, pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel or use a paper towel before you continue to prepare them. 

Should you remove Green Sprouts from the potato?

When it comes to green sprouts, it’s best to cut these off before preparing the potatoes.

It’s best to do this after scrubbing them, as it’s easier to check for bruised or green areas after you’ve cleaned the potato’s surface.

Using a clean knife, chop off any green or bruised areas alongside any green sprouts.

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As for the eyes of the potato, you don’t need to cut them off if they’re small and not yet sprouting.

Removing the potato skin is entirely down to preference.

The skin contains much of the potato’s nutritious value, including its fiber content – not to mention that potato skins can be crispy and delicious.

However, it also is where bacteria and dirt are most likely to be stored.

So while you should leave the potato skins on if you prefer, cleaning potatoes thoroughly is essential when left unpeeled.

Once you have washed your potatoes, it’s best to prepare and cook them straight away.

Otherwise, the moisture can carry bacteria.

If you’re preparing food in advance, you can store fresh, unwashed potatoes by loosely stacking them in a dark, dry, cool place until you are ready to use them.

Hey! Looking for more expert food prep tips? Check these out!

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