Potatoes are just one of the staples that every kitchen needs to have. And you can do so much with them, from adding them to a stew to baking them in the oven and filling them with your favourite ingredients.
But why are there so many different varieties around the world? And why are some good for mash and others roasting?
In this post, I will fill you in on all these essential facts about potatoes along with some handy cooking tips.
Are Potatoes Healthy?
When you think of potatoes, most of us would think about all the Carbohydrates that we would be consuming. And for those that are on low carb diets, these vegetables could be a big no-no, depending on your meal plan.
Fact: potatoes are quite healthy for us, maybe more than you think.
But like anything, too much of a good thing can be unhealthy. So moderation is the key to these starchy vegetables.
Other than Carbohydrates, which is one of the body’s leading sources of energy. The potato contains fibre, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and more. But it also contains zero cholesterol and is low in calories.
Are potatoes high in protein?
There is only a moderate amount of protein in a single potato, approximately 2g, which is about 4% of our daily intake.
Potato Fun Facts.
- The scientific name for potato is Solanum tuberosum.
- The potato, along with tomatoes and eggplant, are a part of the nightshade family.
- Potatoes are a stem vegetable.
- A potato plant is known as a modified stem, as it has the same characteristics of a stem such as roots and buds
- The underground stem, known as the Tuber (rhizome) is the edible part of the potato.
What colour potatoes are there?
There are four colour types which are white, yellow, purple and red.
These four colour types can be found in your local supermarket here in Australia and many greengrocers around the world.
But there are hundreds of varieties. And each type depends on the country you live in, and the style of cooking it is best suited to.
Below is a potato variety guide to show you which variety of potato is what.
Potato variety guide.
As I mentioned before, there are hundreds of varieties of potatoes right across the globe.
But which potato is best suited to the type of meal you are cooking.
Did you know that different types of potatoes are best suited to boiling, roasting, salads etc.?
So let’s split our potato varieties into three simple groups, waxy potatoes, floury potatoes and all-purpose.
Waxy potatoes are low in starch and contain a high level of moisture, which helps them to keep their shape while being boiled or baked.
They have thin, smooth skin and creamy, and almost shiny flesh.
Floury ones are higher in starch and low in moisture. These are the ones that fall apart when you boil them, this is due to the starch hardening and expanding while they are cooking. But will crisp up nicely while being fried or roasted.
All-purpose potatoes are the ones that are in-between waxy and floury. And can be used for anything from mashed to salads.
So how do you know which potato is what? Below I have included a table that tells you the most common potato varieties, along with what their uses are.
When you cook with potatoes, it is always good to know exactly what type you need for the way you will be cooking it.
|Potato Variety||What type is it?||Best for:|
|Desiree||all-rounder||boiling, baking, mashing and salads.|
|Dutch Cream||waxy||mashing, boiling, roasting and pureeing.|
|Eureka||waxy||Mashing, chipping, roasting|
|Golden Delight||all-rounders||mashed, roasted or fried|
|Kennebec||all-rounder||Mashing, boiling, wedges|
|Kipfler||Waxy||Baking, boiling, salads|
|Nicola||waxy||salads, boiling, mashing|
|Maris Piper||floury||roasted, mashed, boiled, chipped or baked|
Potato Buying and Storing Tips.
When you are buying potatoes, think about what you are going to be cooking.
Also, consider what your local store or greengrocer stocks.
Sometimes you may not be able to get the exact variety you want but select an alternative or an all-purpose potato.
Just like any other fruit or vegetable, you need to check the potatoes that you are buying carefully.
Choose firm ones and ones that have no sprouts growing. Small cuts or blemishes will not affect how the potato tastes.
When it comes to storing them, keep them in a dry and dark place, such as a potato box or a container with a lid.
If you buy potatoes in a bag, sometimes you will find they can be quite wet. So before storing them, dry them on some newspaper for a few hours before putting them away, to avoid them rotting.
How do you get rid of a rotten potato smell?
This smell most of us would have experienced at least one. And the smell of a rotten potato is not pleasant.
But it is not as simple as throwing away the rotten potatoes, as for some reason this smell can linger, especially if you store your potatoes in a cabinet.
Here is a handy cleaning tip to get rid of that horrible smell if it is lingering.
Mix 1 part of white vinegar and two parts of water into a spray bottle. Spay the affected area and leave overnight. In the morning wipe clean with a wet cloth.
Why soak potatoes in water before cooking?
There are a couple of reasons you should let your potatoes soak in water before you cook them.
Firstly, it helps to reduce the starch content. It is only minimal, but even a small amount removed helps.
It is handy if you are making french fries, as soaking them in cold water, will prevent them from sticking together.
If you are planning on baking, roasting or deep frying your potatoes, soaking them in cold water will also help to reduce a chemical known as Acrylamide from being formed.
Acrylamide is a chemical that forms when potatoes get cooked at a temperature higher than 120°C or 250°F
If you would like to know more about Acrylamide, there is an excellent article from the Food Standards Agency in the UK that you can read.
Should you add salt to the water when you cook potatoes?
These starchy vegetables soak up a lot of flavours while they are cooking, so adding salt to the water will reduce the amount of salt you need to add later on, especially if you have mashed potatoes.
But there is another benefit to adding salt to the water, which is the salt will help to boil your potatoes at a higher temperature. And this helps to cook the starch more thoroughly, giving your potatoes a creamier texture.
Also by salting the water, you can reduce the heat on your stove a bit less, due to the salt causing the temperature of the water to increase, saving you energy. I am not saying this will reduce your bill, but hey everything counts nowadays, even if it is just a fraction.
But how much salt should you add to the water, you ask? Well, you should add only about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon, but if you are after a creamier texture, you heavily salt them. And this will come down to taste as you do not want them to be too salty either.
How do you fix runny mashed potatoes?
I am sure we have all done this a few times, added a bit too much milk to the potatoes. Then we end up with runny mashed potatoes if you can even call it that.
Luckily there is a way to fix it. Put your mashed potatoes into a large pot and heat over medium to low heat. This will cause the excess liquid to evaporate. But avoid stirring them too much as your potatoes will end up being a gummy texture.
If you have any questions relating to potatoes or any tips you would like to share feel free to put your comments below.
And be sure to check out some of our potato recipes, Super Crunchy Weber Q Roast Potatoes and Simple Homemade Potato Salad with Egg and Bacon for a few ideas of how to cook your potatoes.