Potato

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The potato belongs to the Solanaceae or nightshade family whose other members include tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and tomatillos. They are the swollen portion of the underground stem which is called a tuber and is designed to provide food for the green leafy portion of the plant. If allowed to flower and fruit, the potato plant will bear an inedible fruit resembling a tomato.

Potato is tuber that are a staple food in many parts of the world, particularly Europe and the West. It is commonly categorised according to when it’s harvested (early, mid-season and late) as well as its characteristics (whether waxy in appearance, or floury once cooked). All-rounder varieties include King Edward, Maris Piper, Romano and DesirĂ©e potato, which are suitable for every type of cooking except for salads and steaming.

Despite this humble tuber’s popularity, shoppers have generally been offered very little choice about what types of potato to choose from. Supermarkets and some farmers’ markets are increasing their range of old and new potato varieties, with myriad tastes and textures. Whichever you buy, they should be firm and well-shaped with no eyes or green patches.

Potato is a very popular food source. Unfortunately, most people eat potato in the form of greasy French fries or potato chips, and even baked potato is typically loaded down with fats such as butter, sour cream, melted cheese and bacon bits. Such treatment can make even baked potatoes a potential contributor to a heart attack. But take away the extra fat and deep frying, and a baked potato is an exceptionally healthful low calorie, high fiber food that offers significant protection against cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Our food ranking system qualified potato as a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, copper, potassium, manganese, and dietary fiber.

Potato also contain a variety of phytonutrients that have antioxidant activity. Among these important health-promoting compounds are carotenoids, flavonoids, and caffeic acid, as well as unique tuber storage proteins, such as patatin, which exhibit activity against free radicals.

The potato skin is a concentrated source of dietary fiber, so to get the most nutritional value from this vegetable, don’t peel it and consume both the flesh and the skin. Just scrub the potato under cold running water right before cooking and then remove any deep eyes or bruises with a paring knife. If you must peel it, do so carefully with a vegetable peeler, only removing a thin layer of the skin and therefore retaining the nutrients that lie just below the skin.

Potato should be cleaned and cut right before cooking in order to avoid the discoloration that occurs with exposure to air. If you cannot cook them immediately after cutting, place them in a bowl of cold water to which you have added a little bit of lemon juice, as this will prevent their flesh from darkening and will also help to maintain their shape during cooking. As potatoes are also sensitive to certain metals that may cause them to discolor, avoid cooking them in iron or aluminum pots or using a carbon steel knife to cut them.

The following cooking methods suit different potatoes best:

Baking – Cara, Golden Wonder, Marfona, Estima

Boiling – Cara, Estima, Pink Fir Apple, Saxon, Nadine, Vivaldi, Yukon Gold

Chips – Estima, Maris Piper, Pentland Dell, Sante, King Edward, Golden Wonder

Mashing – King Edward, Pentland Squire, Pentland Dell

Roasting – Cara, Wilja, Pentland Dell

Salad – Charlotte, Ratte, Jersey Royal, Pink Fir Apple, Vales Emerald