Potato 101

May 14, 2012

Most everyone is familiar with potatoes, but there are thousands of varieties! Find out the potato basics here

Everyone is familiar with potatoes, but there are thousands of varieties! Find out the potato basics here.

What are Potatoes? Potatoes are an edible nightshade; a starchy, tuberous crop (Solanaceae family) and the world’s fourth largest crop with 4,000 varieties!

How to Buy:
Available fresh single count or in bulk in 1, 5, or 10 lb. bags; cooked in cans or dried in boxes. Cooked potatoes are available in the prepared foods areas of most markets as well as in freezer or refrigerated sections.

How to Read the Label:
Potatoes are usually available year round in the produce section and “fresh” potatoes are most likely the variety necessary for recipes. If you must purchase packaged and processed potatoes always read labels. Dried potatoes may have preservatives for freshness and vegetable oil. Bags should indicate state (Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Maine) or country of origin Canada, Ireland, Peru etc, weight, and potato type. Loose potatoes should have signs indicating place of origin and type.

Yukon gold, Russet/Idaho white, fingerling, red new, white, purple, blue. Larger types have grainier texture, smaller potatoes have a smoother, sweeter texture.

How to Use:
Fresh (may be peeled) can be boiled, steamed, breaded, fried or baked. Small fingerlings and new potatoes can be cooked with the skins on. All skins are edible but should be thoroughly washed of dirt and bruise spots removed. Re-hydrate dried potatoes with water and milk and add salt or seasonings; canned should be heated for a side dish or rinsed thoroughly for use in cold salads.

How to Store:
Potatoes should be stored in open-air containers in cold areas (39-50º F) of the house or kitchen.

Health Benefits:
Potatoes, particularly the skins are high in vitamin C, antioxidants, potassium, copper, vitamin B6, and fiber.

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