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SOME BOILED-DOWN FACTS ABOUT POTATOES

SHARE SOME BOILED-DOWN FACTS ABOUT POTATOES

Facts about popatoes--

- There are more than 400 varieties of potatos, but as Bert Greene notes in "Greene on Greens," "ask for any of 396 at your supermarket and you will be met with . . . a vacant stare."- Most potatoes sold in the United States come from Florida, California, Maine, New York or Idaho.

- Greene advises, "Choose weighty potatoes that are firm, relatively clean and smooth. Avoid anything with sprouts, softness, bruises or green patches. A greenish potato is not just underripe; it's bitter and mildly toxic from solanine."

- New, freshly dug, low-starch potatoes with firm texture and thin skin are best for boiling, roasting, casserole dishes and potato salad. Old, high-starch potatoes, mealy and substantial, do well in the French fryer, skillet and baking rack.

- Potatoes can be stored best in medium-sized baskets or well-ventilated containers in a clean area with a temperature of 45 to 55 degrees where sprouting, withering and rotting are minimized. If the storeroom is a basement or garage with cement floor, place boards under the baskets. Keep potatoes away from artificial light and apples. Potatoes should not be kept in the refrigerator, where the cold converts starch into sugar.

- Potatoes can last up to eight months. Sprouted potatoes are edible after removing the sprouts.

- Potatoes aren't fattening. Only the accompanying butter, cream and cheese are.

- The potato contains large amounts of vitamins B6 and C, phosphorus, zinc, copper and iodine. It's also an important source of complex carbohydrates.

- To preserve the nutrients directly under the potato skin, peel thinly - not with a paring knife but with a swivel-bladed peeler. The thin skins of new potatoes are a source of fiber, vitamins and minerals, so you might want to leave them intact.