Why can you leave a raw potato out of the fridge without spoiling but not a cooked/boiled one?



Why can you leave a raw potato out of the fridge without spoiling but not a cooked/boiled one?

In: Chemistry

First, a raw potato outside of the fridge absolutely will spoil, especially if the weather is warm and humid. There’s no feeling quite like clearing out the cabinet, looking for whatever’s making that horrible smell, and having your hand go *into* a rotten potato.

It takes less time for a cooked potato to spoil because cooking the potato turns starches into sugars, which are more hospitable to bacteria and fungi, and also often involves piercing the potato’s skin, which helps protect the potato from said bacteria and fungi.

Also, the raw potato is still alive. There are biological processes going on inside the potato, immune response to Bactria is one of them.
You know they’re alive because if you leave the potato too long, it will grow shoots.

raw potatoes are alive, and have systems to fend off pathogens and fungi the same way that all living plants do. potatoes are a storage structure meant to endure long periods of storage for the potato plant, so they will persist in a cold area for a long time, only shrivelling gradually as the living cells gradually dehydrate.

the same is true of other roots – beets, carrots, parsnips, radishes and the like. if they are raw, they are unlikely to rot because they are evolved for long-term storage and stasis.

when you boil any of these vegetables, you kill them. dead cells cannot defend against rot, so they rot.

I hear you asking: what about fruit tho? and other vegetables? well, raw vegetables/fruits of all types will last longer than their cooked counterparts for the same reasons. still, they won’t last as long as root vegetables. stems/leaves like broccoli or spinach still last a bit, but they aren’t built for storage and stasis like root vegetables, so they wither and rot faster, lacking the same storage protection mechanisms as potatoes and also lacking their roots to nourish them. fruits are also high in sugars and their ripening speeds their disintegration. they did not evolve for long term stability.

of course, with all of these, they will all eventually wither/rot/die. there is no permanent vegetable.

ELI5 Why can you leave a chicken running around your house without it spoiling, but not one that’s been boiled?