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Very bad potatoes seems to have some sort of acid and other poisonous items formed. A suggestion in Cooking.SO, here, proposes distilling vodka with old potatoes, having a link that overlooks the issue for example with distillation "[n]ot that difficult really" while I think the reality is a bit different: fatal accidents here and here. My question is now not distillation but homebrewing with poor old materials. I am unsure whether I can draw an analogy between distilled products and brewed products but my personal feeling is that is not good idea at all to try bad old-smelling potatoes. Is it good idea or not?

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Pretty sure home distillation is illegal in the United States...Flagged for review. –  TinCoyote Mar 22 '11 at 15:17
    
Voted to close because the topic is not related to homebrewing. –  user839 Mar 22 '11 at 15:34
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It is odd that people can propose "cooking vodka" in Cooking.SO but some of you are stating that asking about the safety and its scientific premises in Homebrew.SO is not good. If someone tried to make it clear what is wrong with this question, I will do my best to clarify, cannot see any reason to ban scientific issues. –  user1157 Mar 22 '11 at 16:40
    
Homebrewing is making beer, not vodka. I don't see that the question has anything to do with making beer. –  user839 Mar 22 '11 at 17:02
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homebrewing is also making mead, wine, sake.... –  baka Mar 22 '11 at 17:58

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I'm deliberately avoiding addressing whether this question is appropriate for this forum. A question was posted on meta regarding that issue, presumably in response to this question, so it's possible that this will still be closed. In the meantime, however...

You could brew beer with potatoes, and there would, of course, be challenges in that alone - namely ensuring that you have the enzymes to properly mash the potatoes. Pun intended.

What you do with this potato beer after brewing is your own business, and probably outside of the scope of this forum.

More to the point: you should not brew with spoiled potatoes. It's just not a good idea. I would think the god-awful smell of heating rotten potatoes would be reason enough, but there's also the risk of fungal toxins like trichothecene, and no way of knowing if any toxins are present. Even if your potatoes weren't toxic, I'm not sure that you could ever get the putrid smell and taste of rotten potatoes out of the brew. Even with extensive "processing" after brewing.

You might need to rephrase your question to better align with this answer and focus solely on brewing with potatoes, since that's what this forum is meant to address.

But seriously, throw the potatoes away.

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Oh, and the cases of poising are from methanol, a byproduct of distillation when the wort has higher levels of pectin. It's not from rotten potatoes. FYI - Commercial distilleries have processes in place to keep methanol out of the final product. (It boils at a lower temp than ethanol, so the first runnings from the still are discarded.) –  Brandon Mar 22 '11 at 17:41
    
I just have to say, amazingly great answer! Informative, and though I would've voted to close the question, I'd say your suggestion of modifying the question is exactly what this community needs in terms of advice from the "top". –  Mlusby Mar 22 '11 at 19:21
    
don't you get methanol also in brewing old potatoes? –  user1157 Mar 22 '11 at 19:50
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I doubt there would be a difference in methanol levels between new and old potatoes, but I have to admit I don't know much about decomposition reactions from fungus and other potato contaminants. –  Brandon Mar 22 '11 at 20:35

Buy fresh potatoes regardless of what you want to do with them. Come on!

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