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. Potato Recipes
What are potatoes?
Potato 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 potatoes.
Baking potatoes have more amylose (a starch compound), and this better for mashing the potatoes.
On the other hand, boiling potatoes 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 potatoes enough to make them more resistant to different weather conditions. It is particularly important if you have in mind the global climate change.
The potatoes 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, potatoes may adapt quickly to different environments.
Potatoes were domesticated a very long time ago, even before our era, in regions of Peru and Bolivia.
The oldest archaeological potato 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 potato which had a very poor genetic diversity. And this made the plantations of potatoes weak in the face of diseases.
Who is the primary producer in the world?
Until now (2018), the largest potato producers in the world are, in this order: China, India, Russia, Ukraine and the United States.
How can I prepare the potato?
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 potatoes, like with their skin on, peeled, with or without condiments.
As a peculiarity, it is possible to cook potatoes in the microwave oven quickly. Many people do this. In case you prefer this method, you should have in mind that a potato contents moisture. And the microwaving process may change the texture dramatically. Because of this, it is recommendable to wrap the potato in absorbing paper (while cooking), or else to perforate the potato in several places (before microwaving) so that, some of the moisture can evaporate.
What are the typical dishes?
Potato 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 potatoes, mashed potatoes, fried potatoes or chips, baked potatoes, and potato pancakes.
How long does it take to boil a potato?
It depends on the size or type, but generally between 10 and 25 minutes.
For what else can I use potatoes?
- To brew alcoholic beverages (This is quite common in some countries).
- As livestock feed. Potatoes 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 the potato 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 potatoes are rich in vitamin B6 and C, the index of these both decreases if you bake the potato.
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 potato, how you prepare it, and of course, with what you are eating it.
An excellent method to reduce the glycemic index of a potato is to cook it first, and then cool or reheat it.
Did you know that
The content of nutrients in a potato changes according to the sort of potato and the method that you use to prepare it.
Some essential nutrients are in the skin (or peel) of the potato, such as minerals and fibre.
Fried and processed potatoes have more calories (and fat), and fewer nutrients.
There are some interesting recipes that you can try
Healthy Fingerling Potato Salad
It is an excellent salad that is relatively easy to do. It goes well with any meat. It is well worth to try it. We hope you like it!
- 1 1/2 pounds small fingerling or new potatoes
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 cups baby spinach chopped
- 1/4 cup shallots peeled and chopped into small pieces
- 4 sun-dried tomatoes peeled and chopped into small pieces
- 1 tsp fresh chives
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar for Dressing
- 1 tbsp minced shallots for Dressing
- 2 tsp whole-grain dijon mustard for Dressing
- 1 tsp maple syrup for Dressing
- 1/2 tsp sea salt for Dressing
- 1/8 tsp black pepper for Dressing
- 2 tbsp olive oil for Dressing
Wash potatoes thoroughly and place in a large pot. Add enough cold water to cover by 3″. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are tender about 20 minutes. Drain and cool. Once cooled to the touch, cut the potatoes into 1/2” pieces and place in a large bowl with the spinach, shallots, sun-dried tomatoes, chives and parsley.
In a small bowl combine the vinegar, minced shallots, mustard, maple syrup salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil. Pour over the potatoes, toss to coat and serve. Store any leftovers in the fridge.
Some peculiar things in this salad are the vinegar (for the dressing), the spinach, and the dried tomatoes. These contribute to a different texture that goes well with the potatoes. The shallots are an alternative to the garlic or red onion, making the salad less pungent.
Vegan Rainbow Potato Salad
This potato salad has a lot of flavour with different colours and textures. As an addition, you do not have to peel the potatoes, for the skins have nutrients and also add fibre and touch to the salad. It presents red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet colours. The colours of the rainbow!
- 1 bag Little Potatoes quartered
- 1 tsp salt
- 5 tbsp vegan mayo
- 3 tbsp pickle juice
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup carrot grated
- 1/4 cup celery thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp dill finely chopped
- 1-2 tbsp garlic dill pickles finely chopped
- 1 tbsp red onion chopped (and soaked in ice water for 10 minutes)
- 2 tbsp green onion finely chopped
- 2 tbsp green bell pepper finely chopped
- 1/4 cup red bell pepper finely chopped
In a large pot, cover the quartered Creamer potatoes with cold water, add one tsp of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn down to a simmer and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Do not overcook.
In a small bowl, combine the vegan mayo, pickle juice, paprika, 1/4 tsp salt, and black pepper. Add the dressing to the potatoes while they're still warm. Mix with a fork, mashing slightly to thicken the dressing.
Cool the potatoes and dressing in your fridge or freezer until they are room temperature or colder.
Gently mix in all the remaining ingredients: carrot, celery, dill, pickles, red onion, green onion, red and green bell pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. The flavours will marry and intensify if you refrigerate overnight before serving. Garnish with paprika and dill.
This recipe is relatively easy to prepare since the potatoes cook quickly and you may use a processor to do the vegetables. The cooking time is short. You can also try some extra dill.
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 potatoes since they do not have the same nutrient level, but a lot of fat instead, what will contribute to weight gain.