Letter Re: What’s for Dinner?

HJL,

There are lots of great ideas and advice on this article! The comments on potatoes reminded me of some questions that have been banging around in my head for years.

Why were potatoes always peeled back in the day? If it was to avoid botulism, why are they often left unpeeled these days, not only when fried, but also when baked or stewed? A Google search brought up some interesting data at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) regarding botulism and canning et cetera. I’m not an expert by any means, but it seems important to me that food borne botulism from ingesting live spores or bacteria is very rare in adults. Much more common is food borne botulism toxin (a chemical produced by the bacterium, not an organism). The question is, will the heat of frying destroy or deactivate the toxin? I’m not confident it will.

It might be better to root cellar the potatoes instead of canning them, or maybe not. I don’t know the answer; I’m still researching, and it may take awhile, but it seemed important enough to point out. You definitely don’t want to get botulism after TEOTWAWKI! – R.H.

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