Potato 101 - All About Potatoes
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Potatoes have more uses than you could ever imagine and are readily available all year long. They are versatile, convenient and nutritious. With so many varieties, flavours and textures – potatoes are exceptional with many different cuisines.
What to look for when selecting:
When picking potatoes, choose ones that are firm and have a good shape and are free from excessive marks and blemishes.
- Avoid those that have bald spots, are a bit wrinkly or have sprouts popping out of them.
- Avoid potatoes that have a green skin.
- Make sure you pick the right potato variety for the recipe (see below)
How to store:
- Dispose of any potato more than half of which is green, as it will be bitter and inedible.
- Don’t store potatoes in a closed plastic bag as they need to breathe. It’s best to keep potatoes in a cool, dark place to maintain their quality.
- Most varieties of potatoes can last a long time (up to two weeks) if stored in a cool and dark place with good ventilation.
How to prepare:
- Whether boiling, roasting steaming, mashing or baking, make sure to scrub your potatoes well and dry with a paper towel.
- To prevent the flesh of the potato from darkening on contact with air, cook it as soon as it is cut or place it in cold water until you are ready to use it. This brief soaking will also prevent the potato from falling apart during cooking (use fresh water for cooking).
- Choose potatoes that are all about the same size – this will ensure they are all cooked and ready to eat at the same time.
Varieties:Baking Potatoes: These starchy potatoes generally have a very thick skin. When they cook, their texture becomes dry so they are perfect for light and fluffy baked and roasted potatoes. Traditionally, they have been recommended for mashed potatoes but because they are absorbent, unless they have a lot of butter and cream added to them – the mash they make can be gluey. For today’s palate, a white or yellow potato is better suited to make smooth, mashed potatoes.Examples: Russet Burbank, Russet Norkotah, Frontier Russet and Shepody. Also called Idaho potatoes.
Yellow, white and red potatoes have less starch than bakers. They usually also have a thinner skin, and can be boiled, baked, roasted, steamed, pan fried, and grilled. When these potatoes cook, they hold their shape well, making them a good addition to a potato salad, soup, or stew.
White potatoes are usually large, round or oval with light to medium skin and white flesh. They are very versatile and taste delicious boiled, steamed, mashed, French fried, roasted, scalloped, and au gratin.Examples: Superior, Kennebec, Cherokee, and Envol
Red potatoes have rosy red, thin and somewhat glossy skins. They tend to hold their shape very well when cooked and are well suited for roasting, boiling, steaming, baking, sautéed, salads and soups.Examples: Chieftain, Rideau, Norland and Sangre.
Yellow fleshed potatoes are round or oval in shape with light gold, thin skin and light yellow flesh.Examples: A Yukon gold is perhaps the best known yellow potato and is considered to be among the best all-purpose varieties. It has a golden buttery flavoured flesh.
Heirloom Potatoes come in many different varieties! Heirloom potatoes can come in different colours like red, purple, white, and yellow. Some of them can be small like fingerlings, or big and round. Some are sweeter; some are starchier. You’ll just have to try them to see what each variety tastes like! You can grill, bake, roast, boil, or even pan-fry them.
Purple or blue heirloom potatoes typically have naturally occurring purple or blue skin and purple flesh. These have a deeper flavour that’s great for savoury dishes.
Pink or red heirloom potatoes often will have a pink or red skin with yellow flesh. They’re much like yellow potatoes but some varieties may range in starchiness to yield different textures and flavours.
Yellow heirloom potatoes are beige-skinned with a yellow, creamy flesh. They often have a buttery flavour, and can range in starchiness like red heirloom potatoes
How to keep your potatoes from sprouting: If you have a dark, cool closet away from the heat of the kitchen, store them there. Also, it's best to take them out of the plastic bag and put them in a basket or breathable cotton sack. And finally, make sure they are totally dry before storing long-term. Damp potatoes will rot or sprout faster.