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Food of the Month


Potato

Digestive Health

Potatoes contain a considerable amount of fiber, but remember the fiber in potatoes is mostly in their skin. This fiber stimulates peristaltic motion and increases secretion of gastric juices, which eases digestion and prevents conditions like constipation. Also, the potatoes’ high level of carbohydrates makes them easy to digest.

Heart Health

Fiber is connected with scraping cholesterol out of the arteries and blood vessels; vitamins C and B6 help reduce free radicals; and carotenoids help maintain proper heart functioning.

Improves Immunity

Potatoes are rich in disease-fighting vitamin C. Vitamin C can prevent everything from scurvy to the common cold. A large baked potato contains about 45 percent of your recommended daily intake of this nutrient.

Reduces Inflammation

Potatoes are effective in reducing inflammation both internal and external, due to the nutrients vitamin C, potassium, and vitamin B6. Therefore, they may benefit those suffering from arthritis or inflammation of the intestines and digestive system.

Promotes Healthy Brain Function

Proper brain function largely depends on oxygen supply, glucose level, magnesium, some members of the vitamin B complex, and other nutrients, such as amino acids and fatty acids. Potatoes meet almost all the needs mentioned above. In addition, they contain certain other substances like zinc and phosphorus that are good for the brain too.

Tips for Selecting and Storing Potatoes

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Selecting:

  • Most potatoes come tightly packed in a plastic bag. The downside to this is that you cannot inspect the potatoes that are sandwiched inside. This packing, although convenient, causes a build-up of moisture within the bag that could cause spoiling. The better way is to buy individual potatoes from a bulk display so you can inspect each potato for signs of damage and spoiling.
  • Potatoes should be firm to the touch, well shaped, and relatively smooth.
  • Avoid the ones with soft and dark indentations, which indicate spoiling. Also do not select potatoes with green discolorations, which indicate content of solanine, a toxic substance that imparts an awful taste and causes some health problems.

Storage:

  • The ideal way to store potatoes is in a dark, dry place between 45 to 50 Fº. Higher temperatures, even room temperature, will cause the potatoes to sprout and dehydrate prematurely.
  • The best place to store potatoes is in a cool, dark place away from heat and sunlight, such as in a dark closet or cabinet. It is best to store them in a paper bag or burlap sack.
  • Never store potatoes in the refrigerator, as this causes the conversion of starch to sugar, thus altering the taste.
  • Also, never store potatoes near onions. The gases they both emit could accelerate spoiling.
  • Mature potatoes stored properly can keep up to two months.
  • From time to time, inspect your potatoes for signs of spoiling. Promptly remove spoiled and sprouting ones, as they can quickly affect the other potatoes.

Potato Varieties

There are more than 100 varieties of potatoes sold throughout the United States. Each of these varieties fits into one of six potato type categories: russet, yellow/gold, red, white, blue/purple, or fingerling.

Russet Potatoes:
This is the potato most people have fixed in their minds as the “classic” potato. They are ideal baking potatoes and are also good fried and mashed. Examples: Russet Burbank (aka Idaho potato), Russet Norkotah, Frontier Russet, and Western Russet

Yellow/Gold Potatoes:
Yellow potatoes are considered to be an “all purpose” variety with a subtly sweet, rich, buttery flavor. They have a lower starch texture than the Russet but can still be used for any dish requiring Russets without affecting the result. Examples: Yukon Gold, Yellow Finn, Delta Gold, and Michigold

Red Potatoes:
Because of their waxy texture, the flesh of red potatoes stays firm throughout the cooking process. Reds tend to hold their shape very well when cooked and are well suited for roasting, boiling, steaming, baking, sautéeing, and inclusion in salads and soups. Examples: Chieftain, Rideau, Norland, and Ida Rose

White Potatoes:
White potatoes hold their shape well after cooking. They are very versatile and taste delicious boiled, steamed, mashed, French fried, roasted, scalloped, and au gratin. Examples: Superior, Kennebec, Cherokee, and Envol

Blue/Purple Potatoes:
Blue potatoes have an earthy, nutty flavor and get their color from their high antioxidant content. Blue potatoes are ideal if you want to create eye-catching dishes. They will definitely add pizzazz to a potato salad. Their starch content is considered medium, which means they can be cooked in most ways without a problem. Examples: All Blue, Adirondack Blue, Purple Majesty, and Russian Blue

Fingerling Potatoes:
Fingerling potatoes are a family of heritage potatoes that naturally grow much smaller than conventional potatoes. They are 2-4 inches long, finger shaped or oblong, with red, orange, purple, or white skin. They have an earthy, nutty flavor that is enhanced by roasting or pan frying. Examples: Russian Banana, French Fingerling, Purple Peruvian, and LaRatte

Serving Suggestions

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  • The potato skin is a concentrated source of dietary fiber, so to get the most nutritional value from this vegetable, don’t peel it and consume both the flesh and the skin.
  • Potatoes should be cleaned and cut right before cooking in order to avoid the discoloration. If you cannot cook them immediately, place them in a bowl of cold water with a little bit of lemon juice to prevent their flesh from darkening.
  • Potatoes are sensitive to certain metals that may cause them to discolor. Avoid cooking them in iron or aluminum pots or using a carbon steel knife to cut them.
  • Use pureed, cooked potatoes to thicken stews, soups, and gravies. They add flavor, nutrients, and texture.
  • Cook, chill, and toss with a simple balsamic vinaigrette or a mixture of Dijon mustard, roasted garlic, red wine vinegar, and paprika.
  • For non-dairy mashed potatoes, mash the potatoes using the water they were cooked in.

Recipes:

Mashed Potato Cakes

Carrot-and-Potato Latkes

Cajun-Stuffed Potatoes

Garlicky Roasted Potatoes with Herbs

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes with Dill