A scientist has found, through experiments, that potatoes can be preserved for longer through the use of essential oils.
David Gómez Castillo has shown that treating the tuber of the potato with essential oils of mint, caraway, coriander, eucalyptus and clove can preserve the potato and act as inhibitors against spoilage by microorganisms.
One of the risks with potatoes is that the final quality of the potato can be affected during storage. This is due to sprouting, or rotting caused by microorganisms. Most contamination occurs around the tuber of the potato.
From the Basque Research brief it is noted that although various chemical compounds are available, most commonly clorprofam, to treat potatoes during storage, the use of natural oils presents a solution which does not have the same issues of disposing of toxic chemical residues. The use of essential oils is also presents a potentially cheaper solution.
An essential oil is a concentrated liquid containing volatile aroma compounds extracted from plants, such as oil of clove. An oil is "essential" in the sense that it carries a distinctive scent, or essence, of the plant. Essential oils are generally extracted by distillation. They are used in perfumes, cosmetics, soaps and other products, for flavoring food and drink, and for adding scents to incense and household cleaning products.
For the research, Castillo studied the effect of applying natural oils with different varieties of the potato, like Agata and Monalisa, and compared the results with potatoes that had been treated with chemical compounds.
The scientist analyzed two factors at the end of the study. First he looked at the commercial quality, such as germination, texture and color of the tuber. Secondly he looked at the culinary and technological quality, such as the color and texture of slices of the potato. The final tests were undertaken after 70 days storage.
The conclusion was that there was relatively little difference between the potatoes treated with the essential oils and the potatoes treated with chemical compounds. The results may lead to a different approach for the preservation of potatoes.