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Old 09-30-2008, 06:15 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by jennyema View Post
OK, my bad. It's when they are wrapped in foil that they can grow botulism.

Botulism Linked To Baked Potatoes

Here's what the Idaho Potato Commission has to say about refrigerating baked potatoes:

After baking potatoes how many hours can you leave them out at room temperature before you eat them? Is overnight okay at room temperature?
Do not, repeat, do not leave baked potatoes out at room temperature overnight and consume them the next day. This is a food safety issue. The baked potato has a neutral PH factor and can grow microorganisms quite easily. This is especially important if you have wrapped the potatoes in foil (sort of like canning fruits and vegetables and not sealing the jar lid). Potatoes are inexpensive, so toss them or even better, refrigerate and microwave the next day. One of my favorite ways to use up leftover baked potatoes is to make twice stuffed potatoes. Cut the baked potato in half, hollow out the insides and combine the mashed mixture with sour cream, chives, grated cheese and any other favorite herbs. Then add back in to the skin, refrigerate and bake off later. Yummy!
Hi Jenny:

I don't think there is any documented cases of botulism in baked potatoes unless they have been baked in foil and then left in the foil.

Regular baking without foil should kill the botulism spores, and the spores on the potato surface has to have anaerobic conditions in order for the toxin to be produced. The foil facilitates that.

Baked potatoes without foil that are left in the oven and not handled should be safe from pathogens the next morning.

Botulism Linked To Baked Potatoes
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Old 09-30-2008, 06:39 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by mozart View Post

Regular baking without foil should kill the botulism spores, and the spores on the potato surface has to have anaerobic conditions in order for the toxin to be produced. The foil facilitates that.

Baked potatoes without foil that are left in the oven and not handled should be safe from pathogens the next morning.
Baking probably won't kill the spores. The potato is really only as hot as steam, boiling temp. Spore eradication in commercial canning is usually done under pressure at 250 and held for a time. The foil only creates an anaerobic situation. It gets just as hot. So if the foil is dangerous, the unfoiled is too, just not for botulism.

Then you must consider the rule of more than 2 hours between 40 and 140 and throw it out. A cooling oven with baked potatoes will hold that temp comfortably and potatoes are a fine growing medium. Moist, warm and starchy.

Yes, you can probably get away with it a number of times. But the times you can't aren't worth it or the risk.

.
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Old 09-30-2008, 07:17 PM   #13
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Baking probably won't kill the spores. The potato is really only as hot as steam, boiling temp. Spore eradication in commercial canning is usually done under pressure at 250 and held for a time. The foil only creates an anaerobic situation. It gets just as hot. So if the foil is dangerous, the unfoiled is too, just not for botulism.

Then you must consider the rule of more than 2 hours between 40 and 140 and throw it out.

.
Not so sure about that. Botulism spores are found on the potato skin. The skin itself when place in a 400 degree oven will get a lot hotter than 212. Steam is released from those little fork pricks we put in the potato.

Foil, however, traps the steam and keeps the whole potato cooler, but probably still hotter than 212 due to the pressure created by the foil, but not hot enough to kill the spores.

As for the two hour rule, as someone said earlier, if an unbaked potato can sit out for days at room temp, and in fact we are told NOT to refrigerate them, then I see no logic in an unfoiled backed potato left in the oven overnight being unsafe.

From my personal experience, it is clear that French Fries last a long time in the bag under the front seat of my car
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Old 09-30-2008, 07:40 PM   #14
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I was really glad to see this thread, as I, too have left potatoes on top of the stove or in the microwave until the next day and wondered if they were safe.

Now, I know. They are not!
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Old 09-30-2008, 07:52 PM   #15
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I don't eat corn that was cooked in the husk and forgotten on the grill overnight either. Like I said, too much has changed in the food during the cooking process.
I don't know if it's exactly a chemical change, but I'd just as soon cut my losses.

Although it is a well known fact that French fries left under a car seat long enough will eventually turn into potato sticks, which will again become perfectly fine to eat
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Old 10-01-2008, 11:21 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by mozart View Post
Baked potatoes without foil that are left in the oven and not handled should be safe from pathogens the next morning.

Given their neutral pH, that also sounds like a dangerous proposition.

I'd certainly not eat them.
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Old 10-01-2008, 12:05 PM   #17
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I'm gonna say this one more time. It's keeping the food too warm too long that breeds bacteria which is why one wants to cool it a soon as possible. Keeping a baked potato in a warm oven overnight since oven also takes time to cool down you are making a nice warm environment for the bugs to breed.
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Old 10-01-2008, 12:43 PM   #18
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Baking a potato causes a physicochemical change in the potato. In particular is cellular disintegration. This disintegration is akin to ripening, and over ripening leads to excess cellular disintegration and spoilage. From a cellular stand point, you can view cooking a potato as rapid ripening of the tuber. It is because of this cellular disintegration that a baked potato is different from an uncooked potato that sits out safely for days.
Cooking of potatoes does not cause the bursting of cell walls but
permits ready mechanical disintegration of the tuber tissue by separation
of cells. The process is characterized by such physico-chemical
changes as partial gelatinization of the starch, the solution of some of
the pectic substances, the increased digestibility of the cellulose, the
coagulation of most of the protein, and more or less caramelization of
the sugar. Probably constituents present in smaller proportions are
also important in their effects on culinary quality.
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Old 10-01-2008, 12:48 PM   #19
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oooh........bacteria loves sugar........don't take the risk..........refrigerate your potatoes;;;;;;;;
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Old 10-01-2008, 08:49 PM   #20
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Given their neutral pH, that also sounds like a dangerous proposition.

I'd certainly not eat them.
Hi Jenny:

I'm not saying I'd do it myself either. I think there could well be textural changes in leaving them out. But I don't believe there is a pathogenic bacterial issue as presented; baked without foil and left in the oven without handling.

Yes, the cooling oven is a perfect environment to grow bacteria in a neutral PH environment. But there will be no pathogenic bacteria left alive after cooking at 400 degrees for an hour, and as long as you don't contaminate them by handling there will be no bacteria in the oven either.

At some point you will get spoilage, but not pathogenic, bacteria present.

There also may not be enough water activity to support pathogenic bacteria as much of the free water is steamed off and vented out of the stove. This is certainly the case with potato chips.

Again, not suggesting it is a good practice, but I don't see how the 2 hours rule can possibly apply in this case.
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