This post is about potatoes in their broadest conception. Here, you will find precise information about this millennial food. This tuber is very common in our times, but it is a unique source of energy and other nutrients. You will also find nutritional facts and recipes. Here we go!
Exciting and Healthy Facts about Potatoes. Best Recipes
What are potatoes?
This vegetable is a comestible tuber that comes from the plant Solanum Tuberosum. It has become a primary food in the vast majority of different cultures worldwide.
They are now one of the most abundant food crops in the world. Initially, from the Andes region in South America, they were at the beginning introduced in Europe and then spread and popularised across the globe.
Thanks to selective breeding, today, there are about five thousand different varieties throughout the world. You can find most of the types in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile and Colombia.
Are there any species?
Yes, and also, it is common to cross-breed some wild species with the cultivated ones. This process is to improve the cultivated species against diseases genetically. Although, many people in the United States and Europe reacted against this genetical modification.
The species Solanum Tuberosum, and its subspecies Andigena (from the Andes), and Tuberosum (from Chile) are the main in the world. The one from the Andes (Andigena) presents an adaptation to the equatorial and tropical mountainous regions, while the one from Chile (Tuberosum) presents an adjustment to a higher latitude region.
Almost four thousand types of potato exist today, and each one has its characteristics from the agricultural and culinary point of view.
But for more practical purposes, we can sort them by the colour or by the content of starch.
Colour: Russets, reds, whites, yellows and purples.
Depending on the content of starch: Baking or boiling vegetable.
Baking ones have more amylose (a starch compound), and this better for mashing the vegetable.
On the other hand, boiling ones have slightly more amylopectin (also, a starch compound) what helps them to preserve their form when you cook them.
Some interesting facts about this tuber
In 2009, scientists obtained a sequence of the potato genome. Thanks to this, now it is possible to genetically improve vegetables enough to make them more resistant to different weather conditions. It is particularly important if you have in mind the global climate change.
The vegetbles that grow in North America did not arrive straight from the South American sources, but they came through European settlements.
If the climate has moisture and is fresh enough, it may adapt quickly to different environments.
It was domesticated a very long time ago, even before our era, in regions of Peru and Bolivia.
The oldest archaeological vegetable tuber dates from 2500 before the Christian era!
The Solanum Tuberosum is initially from a region of Chile, and the local indigenous cultivated it already. That was even before the Spanish conquest.
The Spanish introduced the potato into Europe in the sixteenth century. Then the European spread it to the rest of the whole world.
In the beginning, they only introduced a few varieties of it which had a very poor genetic diversity. And this made the plantations weak in the face of diseases.
Who is the primary producer in the world?
Until now (2018), the largest producers of this vegetable in the world are, in this order: China, India, Russia, Ukraine and the United States.
How can I prepare the vegetable?
You can make potatoes in different ways, but in any case, the imperative is that you must cook them! So, you may steam, boil, fry, roast or bake it and prepare a vast number of dishes.
There are many ways to prepare it, like with their skin on, peeled, with or without condiments.
As a peculiarity, it is possible to cook it in the microwave oven quickly. Many people do this. In case you prefer this method, you should have in mind that a vegetable contents moisture. And the microwaving process may change the texture dramatically. Because of this, it is recommendable to wrap the vegetable in absorbing paper (while cooking), or else to perforate it in several places (before microwaving) so that, some of the moisture can evaporate.
What are the typical dishes?
This vegetable dishes can be, basically, hot or cold. But in this last case, you cook it first, and then you serve it.
In cold dishes, we can find potato salads or crisps.
As for hot dishes, there are steamed or boiled ones, mashed, fried chips, baked ones, and pancakes.
How long does it take to boil a vegetable?
It depends on the size or type, but generally between 10 and 25 minutes.
For what else can I use this vegetable?
- To brew alcoholic beverages (This is quite common in some countries).
- As livestock feed. Vegetables that are whether too small or stained for the market but are very good for livestock.
- Thickener and binder in the food industry.
- As adhesive in the textile and industry.
- In India, they use the peel of tit with honey to treat burns.
- For experimentation in research programs. The low metabolism of the plant gives a type of tissue that is ideal for experiments.
Some Generic Nutrition Facts
We may find the following nutrients in 100 g of raw potato,
- Water 79 g
- Carbohydrates 17 g
- Magnesium 23 mg
- Phosphorus 57 mg
- Potassium 421 mg
- Sodium 6 mg
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin C
Though vegetables are rich in vitamin B6 and C, the index of these both decreases if you bake it.
Potatoes have a high glycemic index. It is a remarkable fact to consider if you are on a special diet. However, the glycemic index varies according to the sort of it, how you prepare it, and of course, with what you are eating it.
An excellent method to reduce the glycemic index of a it is to cook it first, and then cool or reheat it.
Did you know that
The content of nutrients in a vegetable changes according to the sort of it and the method that you use to prepare it.
Some essential nutrients are in the skin (or peel) of the vegetable, such as minerals and fibre.
Fried and processed ones have more calories (and fat), and fewer nutrients.
There are some interesting recipes that you can try
Conclusion: An excellent source of energy and nutrients
We all know that potato is a tuber that many countries cultivate worldwide. There are different types, and all are suitable for many dishes. They have mainly carbohydrates, vitamins C, B6, and minerals, but the content of nutrients can change upon the method of preparation as well. They can also improve satiety due to the content of fibre. If you eat them in moderation, they will contribute positively to your health. However, you should avoid fried or processed ones since they do not have the same nutrient level, but a lot of fat instead, what will contribute to weight gain.