Potato 101

In French, potatoes are pommes de terre or apples of the earth. They’re relatively simple to grow, which makes them inexpensive and widely abundant. Nutritionally, they are high in complex carbohydrates, but contain little or no fat.

Choosing Potatoes: Potatoes should be firm with clean skin. Don’t purchase potatoes with lots of eyes (tiny dents), sprouts or green spots or streaks. Potatoes with lots of eyes, sprouts or green spots may contain a toxin that can be harmful if eaten in large amounts. Eyes, sprouts and green spots or streaks should be cut away before cooking.

Storing Potatoes: Store potatoes in a cool, dry place, ideally with a temperature between 50 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. They should not be stored in the fridge. Cold temperatures cause the starch in the potatoes to turn into sugar, which will result in potato dishes that are too sweet, or potatoes that burn too quickly when fried (see yesterday’s post on Mealy vs Waxy potatoes).

Common Types of Potatoes:

Russet — Russets or Idaho potatoes are likely the most common potato. They have a mealy flesh and rough, brown skin.

Red — Red potatoes have a thin, red skin and white, waxy flesh.

Purple — Purple potatoes, as their name indicates, are purple in color. They’re a mealy potato and are very similar in flavor to russet potatoes. They get their purple color from a powerful antioxidant.

White — White potatoes, like Yukon Gold,  have a waxy flesh that can be white or slightly yellow. They have a thin skin that may be left on during cooking.

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