By Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers
At the market: Select loose potatoes that are well formed, smooth, firm, with eyes, and no discoloration, cracks, bruises or soft spots. Avoid "green" potatoes. They have been exposed to light and have a bitter taste.
When choosing potatoes:
- The classic long, brownish ones are best for baking or roasting
- Rounded or long whites are good for boiling and baking or ro asting
- The small red ones are ideal for boiling
- "New" potatoes are best boiled or steamed.
Storage: Do not wash your potato before storing. Washing speeds decay. Store potatoes can in a dry, dark, cool place. Do not refrigerate.
Here are a few healthy ideas to add potatoes in your meals:
According the experts in Idaho, it is best to pierce a potato with fork several times instead of wrapping it in foil to cook. A baked potato heaped with butter and sour cream is fattening and boring. Try these creative and healthy toppings to jazz up a baked potato.
- Salsa, black beans and corn
- Chopped, cooked broccoli and cheddar cheese (finish under broiler)
- Cottage cheese with fresh chopped herbs and a squeeze of lemon juice
- Chopped, cooked asparagus and Swiss cheese (finish under broiler)
- Chopped grilled chicken and guacamole
- Tuna (can or grilled) and steamed green beans lightly tossed in vinaigrette
- Chopped fresh tomatoes, chopped sun dried tomatoes, chopped fresh basil and cubed mozzarella cheese tossed in olive oil (finish under broiler)
Mashed potatoes are a versatile side dish. With the addition of a few simple herbs and spices, you change their personality to pair with any ethnic menu. Simply make your mashed potato recipe and just before serving, try one of these:
- Southwestern: Add one chopped chipotle chili (in adobo sauce), 2 Tbsp of chopped cilantro
- Southern: Add ¼ cup crumbled bacon (pork, soy, or turkey) with 2 Tbsp chopped green onions.
- French: Add 2 Tbsp of chopped dill and 1 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice
- Japanese: Add 1 Tbsp of wasabi paste with 2 Tbsp chopped chives
- Italian: Add 2 Tbsp of prepared pesto sauce and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese.
To save time, keep a bag of frozen hash browns on hand at all times. Whenever a recipe calls for a potato (for thickening), use 1 cup of the hash browns as a substitute.
Over salted your veggies? Add a slice of raw potato to soak up the extra saltiness. (also works with gravy, soups, stews, and other cooked dishes)
All About Potatoes
Archaeological evidence credits the natives of Peru with cultivating the earliest forms of potatoes about 4500 years ago. There is also evidence that wild tubers (potato plants) grew in the Peruvian plateau and mountainous regions as early as 10,000 years ago. Spanish conquistadors discovered potatoes and brought them back to Europe. The Europeans, in turn, brought them to North America. It was a roundabout journey, but well worth it. Today, potatoes are grown in all 50 of the United States and over 130 countries around the world.
You might wonder why potatoes are so prevalent, but with a little bit of research, it is easy to understand. The fast-growing potato can yield a crop that is five times larger than or wheat or corn, which can explain why they are popular in countries with small land areas, such as Ireland. In addition, throughout history people have turned to the potato for nourishment in times of crisis.