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Hey, Do You C My Potatoes? Determining Vitamin C Amounts in Cooked Potatoes *

Difficulty
Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Titration equipment and supplies are needed. A kit is available from the Science Buddies Store.
Cost High ($100 - $150)
Safety Adult supervision is required. Iodine solution is poisonous. Avoid skin and eye contact. Wear chemical safety goggles and rubber gloves when handling the concentrated solution. For more tips, consult the Science Buddies Chemistry Safety Guide.
*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.

Abstract

As you know, vegetables not only taste good, but they are good for you. Many vegetables are a great source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant that plays an important role in protecting the body from infection and disease. Humans do not make vitamin C on their own, so we must get it from dietary sources. Potatoes, like the ones shown in Figure 1, below, are one good source of vitamin C. Does cooking them affect how much vitamin C they have? In other words, if you boil a potato, is some of the vitamin C lost to the water that the potato is boiled in? In this cooking and food science project, you can investigate this and determine whether boiling a potato for a longer amount of time makes it lose more vitamin C or not. To quantify the amount of vitamin C, you will need to do some titrating.

A small pile of potatoes
Figure 1. Potatoes, like these large Russet potatoes, naturally have vitamin C.

Titration is a chemistry technique used to determine the unknown concentration of a chemical in a solution. For information on how to titrate, consult the references in the Bibliography and the science fair project idea Which Orange Juice Has the Most Vitamin C?. You could use the titration kit from the Science Buddies Store and follow the Procedure for that science project idea, but instead of using orange juice, use liquid that potatoes have been boiled in for different amounts of time. To get a good vitamin C yield, you will want to boil the potatoes in as little water as possible (by filling a pot with a layer of potatoes and just barely submerging them all in water). To take your vitamin C measurements, you could take water samples after the potatoes have boiled for 10 minutes, 30 minutes, and 60 minutes, or you could try different time points. Let the liquid cool to room temperature before titrating it. You may also want to further dilute the Lugol's iodine solution to have more accurate readings (since potatoes have less vitamin C than orange juice). For more information about doing a titration, visit the Science Buddies webpage Titration Tutorial: Tips & Tricks for Titrating.

So how do you think cooking potatoes will affect how much vitamin C is left in them? Try this science project and do some titrations to find out for yourself!

Cite This Page

MLA Style

Science Buddies Staff. "Hey, Do You C My Potatoes? Determining Vitamin C Amounts in Cooked Potatoes" Science Buddies. Science Buddies, 26 Feb. 2014. Web. 2 Sep. 2014 <http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/FoodSci_p024.shtml?from=Blog>

APA Style

Science Buddies Staff. (2014, February 26). Hey, Do You C My Potatoes? Determining Vitamin C Amounts in Cooked Potatoes. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/FoodSci_p024.shtml?from=Blog

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Last edit date: 2014-02-26

Bibliography

The following websites describe how to titrate vitamin C from vegetables. The third website details how another student went about determining the vitamin C levels in cooked potatoes, and her results.

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