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Potatoes

Potatoes

Potatoes are an American staple with an international pedigree. Whether russet, red or white, these tasty tubers are a favorite ingredient in main dishes, sides and stews for all seasons, say many culinary "comment-taters."

Nutrition Highlights

  • Before adding them to recipes or topping them with fixings, potatoes are a nutritious food. When baked, one medium white potato—skin, flesh and all—contains no cholesterol at all.
  • Potatoes are packed with potassium and vitamin C! Just one small white spud (170 grams) contains ¼ of the Daily Value for potassium needs. It also has 30 percent of your Daily Value for vitamin C, a nutrient that helps repair tissue, heal wounds and maintain healthy gums.
  • These tubers can give you a good source of fiber when you eat the skins of red, russet or white varieties.

History

Potatoes have been cultivated in the U.S. for more than 300 years. Before that, they originated in Ireland, right? Not quite. Believe it or not, these flavorful staples of American meals and Irish dishes got their start in the Andes mountains of South America, 7,000 years ago! The potato's journey began when Spanish explorers brought patatas - a blend of native South Americans' words for potato (papa) and sweet potato (batata) - back to Europe in the 1500s. In a few centuries, spuds had become a staple for soldiers in Spain, royalty in France, farmers in Russia, urban workers in England, laborers in Ireland and colonists in what would soon become the United States of America.

Today, potatoes are grown and sold by the ton. Worldwide, nearly 364 million tons of these tubers are cultivated every year, including 22 million tons right here in the U.S., where they can be found in countless grocery stores, farmer's markets, pantries and recipes. The average person eats 73 pounds of potatoes every year

Varieties

Potatoes come in thousands of varieties, but the most commonly sold kinds are the russet, red and round white. Russet potatoes are brown and football-shaped. Red are smaller, usually rounder and have a purplish skin. Round white potatoes are just that: round, medium sized, with light yellow skin and white flesh inside.

How to Choose Potatoes

Keep your eyes peeled (ahem) for spuds that are smooth and hard. If their skin is greenish, wrinkly or mushy-feeling, they could be starting to go bad.

How to Store Potatoes

As long as you plan to eat them within a week or two, potatoes can be stored in a cool, dry, dark place. Before washing them, be sure to snip off any shoots that are sprouting. Remember that keeping potatoes too cold, especially if refrigerated below 39 F, can cause them to go bad faster. In this way, they're similar to bananas.

How to Cook with Potatoes

To start, wash the skin of each potato thoroughly, using tap water and your hands. If the skin is green, it must be peeled away. Also, cut off any stems or shoots, too. Russet potatoes can be baked in the skin and eaten whole. They tend have very few "eyes" – the little pocks in the spud's skin – usually just one or two at either end. Red and round white potatoes often have more eyes, taste great boiled and mashed, served whole or steamed.

Potatoes in Recipes

It's hard to beat potatoes for versatility. Here are some fun recipes that you may not have tried before.

For an all-in-one meal, this Potato-Tomato-Tofu Skillet Dinner is hearty and cooks up in just 10 minutes.

For an international adventure, Yellow Split Pea and Potato Soup brings together the flavors of curry, cilantro, yogurt and coconut milk.

And if you've just got to have some hot, crispy fries, these Oven-Baked Potato Wedges will really hit the spot.

Related Recipes

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