One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato, Four
This article was originally published on November 9, 2018 and expired on December 25, 2018. It is provided here for archival purposes and may contain dated information.
The Potato is a stable at Thanksgiving for many families. Potatoes are the most popular vegetables in the United States. Although there are more than 100 known varieties, about six varieties make up the entire commercial market. Home gardeners are able to taste some of the wonderful flavors and textures unknown to the average person.
Potatoes are generally classified as round red, round white, oblong white and yellow-fleshed. New potatoes are any variety of freshly dug young potato that hasn’t been stored. Potatoes can be harvested at any stage of development from marble-size to full maturity. Potato size at maturity depends on the variety planted. Potatoes should be firm, free of soft spots, and free of disease when harvested.
Even stored under the best conditions, potatoes lose some quality the longer they are stored. For best results, store in a cool, dark place with good air circulation. Do not refrigerate potatoes. Cold temperatures convert starch to sugar, giving potatoes an uncharacteristic sweet taste. The sugar caramelizes during cooking producing brown potatoes and an off flavor. Potatoes can be stored for a week or two at room temperature (65 to 70 degrees) with good results.
If potatoes start to sprout, they can still be eaten. Remove the sprouts and discard. If the potato is still firm, it is good to eat. Shriveled, wrinkled, sprouting potatoes should not be eaten. Green-skin potatoes have been exposed to too much light. A mildly toxic alkaloid called solanin forms in the skin. The green skin can simply be peeled away. Although the remaining potato is safe to eat, it will not be at its best.
Nutritional Value & Health Benefits
Potatoes were once considered just a dietary source of starch. Although potatoes do contain a goodly amount of carbohydrate they are also a storehouse for many vitamins and minerals. With the exception of vitamin A, potatoes have at least some of just about every nutrient, including fiber. Potatoes are relatively low in calories, unless they are eaten with butter, sour cream, and mayonnaise.
Preparation & Serving
Potatoes can be boiled, fried, steamed, grilled or baked. All potatoes should be cooked or placed in water immediately after peeling to prevent discoloration. To peel or not to peel is generally a result of the preparation method or personal preference. The exceptions are thin-skinned new potatoes, which should not be peeled.
Potato varieties should be selected based on their use in a recipe. New potatoes are moist and waxy and are best for steaming, boiling and in salads. Oblong mature white potatoes are rather dry and starchy. They are the most popular French-fried potato and they are great for baking and mashing. Round red potatoes have a rather waxy texture making them ideal for boiling and mashing. Round white potatoes are thin-skinned and hold their shape in salads as well as boiling and roasting. Yellow-fleshed potatoes are good for steaming, roasting, and mashing.
Fresh garden herbs that enhance the flavor of potatoes include basil, chives, cilantro, dill, fennel, marjoram, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon, and thyme.
Pull date: December 25, 2018
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