Re: [gardeners] tomatine?

Kay Lancaster (
Fri, 10 Apr 1998 14:39:11 -0700 (PDT)

On Fri, 10 Apr 1998, Margaret Lauterbach wrote:

> I've talked to Kay about this before, and I'm hoping she'll chime in here.
> A friend told me he had seen discussion of the green on potatoes
> (solanine), in which one of the writers mentioned a toxic substance in
> green tomatoes as well.  I just received a copy in the mail, and it's from
> the "solutions" section of Organic Gardening, Nov/Dec., '97 issue.  OG
> quotes Dr. Rod Bushway, professor of food science at the U. of Maine, as
> saying "Green tomatoes contain a glycoalkaloid called tomatine, which
> disappears as the tomato ripens."  (there is also a recommendation that you
> not trim away the green and eat the rest of the potato, but discard the
> whole thing to be safe.)  Any reactions?  Margaret

There are a *ton* of alkaloids in tomatoes, tomatine being just one.
Alkaloids are nitrogen containing compounds with physiological effects,
so by definition, alkaloids can be toxic.  (A glyco-alkaloid is an
alkaloid with a sugar stuck on it.)  There are a ton of alkaloids
in most plants... they're plant defenses against herbivores.)

Dr. Bushway is correct in saying that it's safest to discard the
whole potato once it has greened, but for all practical purposes,
eating one is not going to hurt a healthy adult.  Or even most healthy
kids.  I'd be more cautious when dealing with someone who is
malnourished, has liver or kidney disease, or is pregnant.

BTW, tomatine is the basis for one of the cholesterol assays.  Binds
to cholesterol quite nicely.> 

Kay Lancaster
just west of Portland, OR; USDA zone 8 (polarfleece)