The starchy root vegetable potato is of Central American origin. This humble tuber is one of the most popular root crops worldwide and one of the most affordable staple food ingredients. It is a perennial subspecies in the Solanaceae family.
The potato plant can grow to 12-18 inches tall and bears many tubers underground. The tubers can vary in size and shape, with varying shapes from round to oval to oblong. Its flesh is cream-white, rose-red, or russet depending on the variety. Once baked, it becomes soft and buttery and “potato”-like.
Some of the most popular cultivars include:
- White/yellow skin, flesh, Yukon gold, Russian banana, and Milva.
- Red skin and flesh – Ida roses, Norland, Cal rouge, French fingerling.
- Russet skin, flesh, and fur -Russet Burbanks, Ranger russets, Utamilla russets.
Health Benefits Of Potatoes
- Official guide to potato nutrition says, Potatoes are a great source of starch and vitamins, minerals, as well as dietary fiber. 100 g provides 77 calories. They are low in fat (0.1g/100g) and contain no cholesterol.
- They are excellent natural sources of both soluble as well as insoluble fiber. They increase the bulk of bowel movements due to the high levels of dietary fiber. It helps to prevent constipation, decreases dietary cholesterol absorption, and lowers plasma LDL cholesterol. Its high fiber content helps prevent colon polyps from developing and can also protect against cancer.
- The fiber content helps in slow digestion starch absorption and simple sugar absorption in the gut. This fiber helps to maintain blood sugar levels in a normal range and prevents large fluctuations. The potato is also considered a reliable source of carbohydrates, even among diabetics.
- Tubers are one of the richest sources of the B-complex vitamins, including thiamin (vitamin B6) and pantothenic acid (vitamin A7).
- The skin of fresh potatoes is a good source of vitamin C. One hundred grams of fresh tuber contains 11.4 mg, or 20%, of the daily recommended levels. Vitamin C is a key ingredient in the body’s ability to resist infectious agents and eliminate harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.
- They are also rich in many important minerals, including iron, manganese, and magnesium.
- Red fleshed potatoes have more potassium (455mg/100g) than russet (417mg/100g) or white flesh (407mg/100g). Potassium is a cardio-protective mineral that can exert the effects of sodium.
- Red and russet potatoes are rich in vitamin A and antioxidant flavonoids such as carotenes, zeaxanthins, and red and russet potatoes.
Selection And Storage
You can find fresh vegetables in grocery stores all over the world. You should look for tubers with a firm texture and a smooth, waxy surface. You will find many eyes on the surface. Avoid those with a soft appearance in the hand, sagging appearance, or patches and cuts.
You may see greenish discoloration on their surfaces. Avoid buying them as this is a sign that they are old stock. Solanine is also a sign to look out for.
Keep them at home in a cool, dry, and dark area. Exposure to excessive moisture and sunlight will cause potatoes to sprout and toxic solanine acidosis.
Avoid storing potatoes in your home refrigerator as they can sustain damage from the chilling process and may develop soft spots and discoloration soon after being taken out.
Serving And Preparation
Many ways potatoes can be used in dishes:
- You can skin-on, peel, or chop the whole thing, with or without seasonings.
- Mashed: Potatoes are boiled, peeled, and then mashed with milk, cream, and butter.
- Whole baked, boiled, or steamed.
- Fried in oil, chips.
- Make delicious soup/chowder using leeks and corn. Season with salt and pepper.
- Slice into cubes, and roast; dice, scalloped, or sliced, and then fry.
- Make and grate dumplings and pancakes.