Potatoes: Everything You Need to Know
Today it’s all about Potatoes: Everything You Need to Know. Though you’ve probably never given it much thought, imagine what this world would be like without potatoes being a part of our everyday lives?
What could possibly take the place of a bag of our favorite salty snack, or a side of seasoned fries to accompany our juicy steakburger and strawberry milkshake?
Imagine not having mashed potatoes and gravy alongside your turkey dinner on Thanksgiving day, or a warm and hearty baked potato on a cold night. What a dreadful place if we can’t eat potatoes!
Though some people have turned to cauliflower as a close substitute, most potato lovers will tell you that it just doesn’t quite compare.
Let’s take a look closer at interesting facts and everything else you need to know about a potato. Potatoes: everything you need to know!
History of the Potatoes: Everything You Need to Know
Potatoes have been around for thousands of years, but they originated in a place you might least expect. The Incas of Peru began cultivating potatoes as early as 8,000BC to 5,000BC.
It wasn’t until the mid-1500’s that they began making their way over to Europe aboard the Spanish conquistador ships on their voyage home.
Finally, in 1662, the Royal Society in England encouraged the cultivation of potatoes, but they still didn’t come to full fruition until 1795 when every family on the continent could get their hands on them.
It might seem strange that North America, especially Idaho, didn’t always have an abundance of potatoes that it has today. Just a few decades prior to the American Civil War, potatoes could hardly be found anywhere in the United States.
Not until 1836, when missionaries began moving westward and planting potato crops, did they hit the scene. Even so, it took another 40 years for these potato farms to flourish and to develop the Russet Burbank, one of the most popular in grocery stores today.
Did you know that potatoes are the second most consumed food by Americans today? It’s also the 4th leading crop on the entire planet. You might also be surprised that they’re made up of more than 80% water.
Potatoes are also alive, even after you purchase them from the grocery store. If they come into contact with light or moisture, they’ll begin taking root.
That’s why potatoes are to be kept in a cool and dry area. They were the first vegetables that were grown in space, aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 1995.
The invention of potato chips actually came about by mistake, thank goodness. In 1853, a chef named George Crum was working at a restaurant in Saratoga, New York.
He became annoyed that a patron returned his dish, complaining that his sliced potatoes were cut too thick.
A flustered Crum decided to cut them as thin as he possibly could, fried them in oil and added salt to them. Needless to say, the patron loved them and the rest is history.
Another surprising fact that you might not know, is that potatoes were used by the Incas in other ways besides eating. They believed that they could help ease a toothache, prevent rheumatism, and even help heal broken bones, along with relieving frostbite.
Instead of soaking themselves in warm bath water to help with soreness, the Incas would rub the water from boiled potatoes to relieve aches and pains.
Potatoes are a starchy root vegetable, a tuber of the plant Solanum tuberosum. There are actually hundreds of varieties of potatoes that you’ve never heard of that you just don’t find at the grocery store.
No matter which potato you choose, they are full of vitamin C, B6, potassium, and fiber. All of these together, especially fiber, help support heart health and decreasing the risk of heart disease.
Potatoes actually have fewer calories than both cooked white and brown rice. Although potatoes are loaded with nutrients and vitamins, it’s not a food that you should eat on a daily basis, as it can increase the chances of high blood pressure.
The Perfect Mashed Potato
There’s a number of potatoes that you can use for mashed potatoes, including red or white, although Yukon golds and Russets are the best.
That’s because they’re high in starch, making them fluffier, smooth and naturally buttery, creating the perfect mashed potatoes.
Be sure that you don’t mash them too much or you’ll have mashed potatoes that seem gluey. You also want to make sure that you don’t cook them too soon and have them sitting around, while you’re working on finishing the rest of the meal, as you’ll enjoy them less. My favorite potato masher: Potato Masher
The Right Baked Potato
You can also use a number of different potatoes for making baked potatoes, but russets, Idahoan, and sweet potatoes are considered the best.
The flesh on these potatoes is very dry and thick, meaning you can bake them crisp and they’ll still be nice and fluffy on the inside.
The skin of the potato is also edible, with several nutrients and fibers in them. Just be sure to wash the potatoes if you intend on eating them because the skins can be very dirty. Hey, they come from the root of the plant!
Potatoes for Potato Salad
Unlike mashed and baked potatoes, you do need particular potatoes for potato salad. Just using any potato will be a huge disappointment. Make sure that you’re using waxy potatoes that maintain a firm texture after being chopped up into the salad.
The best ones for this type of dish include Red, Yukon Gold, and Yellow Finn. These potatoes are also less likely to become watery than other types of potato salad.
Have you ever made potato salad and realized the potatoes were not quite done? All you need to do is add a little milk and cook them again on low heat and the lumps should soften up.
For future reference, you can use a fork to see if they’ve softened up enough. I hope this post about potatoes: everything you need to know, helps you out!
Everything You Need to Know Series:
- Cucumbers: Everything You Need to Know
- Kale: Everything You Need to Know
- Broccoli: Everything You Need to Know
- Mushrooms: Everything You Need to Know
- Lettuce: Everything You Need to Know
- Carrots: Everything You Need to Know
- Tomatoes: Everything You Need to Know
- Potatoes: Everything You Need to Know
What are you surprised most about when it comes to potatoes? What potato dish is most requested at your family dinner table each week? Do you know any other interesting facts, purposes, or recipes for potatoes that weren’t mentioned in this article?
Potatoes: everything you need to know! Thanks for stopping by, I really appreciate it. May God bless this world, Linda
Cheesy Potato Casserole (Funeral Potatoes)
Potatoes: How To Plant, Grow, & Harvest Potatoes
Potatoes in Bag Depositphotos_3120651_s-2019, Baked Potatoes Depositphotos_31246159_s-2019, Mashed Potatoes-Depositphotos_20054799_s-2019.jpg, Potato Salad-Depositphotos_91829964_s-2019
23 thoughts on “Potatoes: Everything You Need to Know”
Hi Linda. Yes, it’s me, but I’m not going to be long winded today. Potatoes during ancient times were thought of as not fit to eat and only grown as feed for animals.
I haven’t eaten a potato in 3 years mainly due to their high carb count (26g, I eat less than that in a day), but I never really ate a lot of them to begin with. I do miss potato chips, but I have found a work round for those. Potato’s (a 5.2 oz size) by themselves have 110 calories, for those who watch their calorie intake, it’s what’s put on them that add the calories and extra fat to our bodies, including their high carb count.
For those interested, the work-around I have found is truly weird and for a long time I couldn’t wrap my mind around it, but once I tried them, I was blown away. It’s radish’s. They can be roasted, friend in butter, made into hashbrowns, put into soups and stews and even in your Sunday pot roast. And, when cooked, they taste nothing like a radish. I was blown away when I finally tried them.
Ok, I lied. It’s rather long winded, lol.
Hi Pam, LOL! I love your comments! This is so funny because I have two posts coming up on radishes!!! Mark and I don’t eat a lot of potatoes but what I learned from my mother and grandmother is the fact if I grow potatoes I will never starve. You just plant, you harvest, you plant you harvest. But I know people are trying to cut carbs. I hadn’t heard about the radishes made into hashbrowns! I will try this for sure! Life is so good when we learn new tricks with healthy food. Great tip! Linda
My husband is diabetic and has high blood pressure, so we don’t eat potatoes, either. I. Excited to try radishes. So far, we’ve replaced potatoes with cauliflower. It works for ‘potato salad’ and mashed ….at Thanksgiving, we add 1 potato to a head of cauliflower. Cook them together and mash them. It’s a good enough substitute that the rest of the family doesn’t notice. Ya do what ya have to do to stay healthy!
You get a whole new texture and flavor if you mix a little mayonnaise into the mashed potatoes.
Hi Dave, oh my gosh, now I need to try ayo in my mashed potatoes! I love it! Linda
Hi Linda and anyone else interested about the radish hashbrowns. I found this guy on YouTube. It’s called “highfalutin low carb”. He’s a hoot. He does a lot of challenges using other people’s recipes and then gives you his opinion on which is the best one. He did a video on Low Carb Hash Brown Showdown and another one on French Fry Battle. Look him up and watch some of his video’s for they can give you or anyone some really good ideas.
Hi Pam, oh my I better go watch these! I love hearing tips like this! Linda
Linda, just read your older article as to growing/harvesting taters. I’d like to offer a bit of knowledge: many potatoes sold in grocery stores have been treated so they can’t grow out their eyes. So, yep, best to get organic if a person wants to use their kitchen scraps of potato skins. Next is something I do to make growing/harvesting easier. I fill old tires with grass clippings, leaves, household compost in the fall. ( In warmer climes, can do year round.) Fill those babies, lol. Just stick the potato eyes about an inch down ( I do up to 6 per tire), cover with some straw, grass, and/or soil. Potatoes will sprout pretty fast as the tire heats up in the sun, far faster than a tuber put into the cold ground. Now, I have learned that I may have to throw grass clippings onto the outside of tire in about July to keep roots from ‘burning’. Once potato plant has died back, it’s easy to harvest: just tip the tire over! My kids were amazed at how easy this makes harvesting! In addition, a person can pretty much just do one tire at a time for a long time with no worries about wet rot/potato beetles. It’s kinda wierd, I don’t think the rubber from the tire affects the taters at all, if that is a concern. One year I did 25 tires with potatoes growing in them: we harvested hundreds of pounds with No Digging! I learned this trick from a very old neighbor of mine. She said her parents did this with model T tires.
Hi Wendy, oh my gosh, I love hearing this. This would be awesome to help people who have very little ground. Great comment!!! Linda
We’ve also had to mostly give up potatoes to cut carbs–but if you just can’t do without, try blue potatoes! When I was first testing DH before/after all meals, I found that they didn’t jack up his blood glucose nearly as much as various white potatoes. They taste great, too–I think a good deal richer than whites. The variety I’ve grown is Adirondack Blue.
Favorite potato recipe–hands down, Irish colcannon. Boil potatoes as usual (I do it with skins on). Cook up some bacon, crumble the bacon, and use the grease to saute some chopped onion and cabbage. Mash the potatoes (still with skins), adding a bit of heavy cream. Then mix in the crumbled bacon, onion, and cabbage. Serve hot, with a big dollop of butter dropped in a well in the middle. Serves up well as leftovers, too, either same way or made into patties and fried. (I’ve heard it can be made with cauliflower instead of potato–haven’t tried it yet, but I may, I really miss having colcannon!!!) And don’t worry about the fat (bacon grease and butter), we really would all be healthier eating more fat for fuel instead of carbs.
Hi Rhonda, oh my does that ever sound good!!! I need to find those potatoes! Thanks for the tip! Linda
You can get blue potatoes from most seed supply catalogues (I use Johnny’s Seeds, also have gotten them at our local feed/farm store).
Thanks Rhonda!!! Linda
Oh, and another vote for growing potatoes in a container. Haven’t used tires, but I have used a round compost container, as well as an deep above-ground box. My only problem has been to make sure I collect the potatoes before the voles burrow in and chew them!
Hi Rhonda, oh those darn voles!! Yikes! Linda
I’m trying some sunchokes, aka Jerusalem artichokes this year. Supposedly the tubers can be used like potatoes in cooking and are much healthier for those with diabetes as they are lower in carbs.
I’ll let you know what happens. I ordered a few just to try growing as a livestock feed and as a screen along one fence. Will be planting this weekend if all goes well.
I like the tire idea for potatoes! I lost my whole crop last year by adding too much soil & mulch to the bed. Everything went well until the last layer…. and our May weather turned extremely hot, everything wilted and died. Lesson learned!
Will have to try the Irish potato recipe! Anything with bacon is a good meal around here!
Hi BDN, I would love to hear how you do with Sunchokes!! Oh my goodness! Linda
Jerusalem artichokes are regarded as pretty close to a perfect food you could live on all by itself, according to an old successful friend when I was talking about survival on limited food sources. They’re lacking oils, of course, so you have to supplement with something appropriate.
HI Dave, thanks for letting us know. I am going to see if I can grow them in Southern Utah! Love it! Linda
If Idaho can excel at potatoes, sun chokes will thrive – but plant them in soil which is not hard like I did the first time.
Hi Dave, oh you are so right on the soil! Those potatoes need to be able to break through the soil! It’s okay we have all learned tricks to gardening by trial and error. We can do this! Linda
Linda,yes cauliflower just like almond vs whole milk is a diet preference. We occasionally use them too. Years ago I built a wood fired BBQ in my backyard. People raved about how really great food tasted cooked over wood! We cooked potatoes every kind of way on it. I remember asking them what we did before gas fired and electric stoves? Blank stares. Move to 25+ yrs later,my son and I bought some very rural property. After a couple years we were sitting by the fire pit talking and he said, do you remember when we used to make those potatoes on the wood BBQ? I have some in the coals now and brought the butter,salt and pepper lust like you used too! I was floored (He was maybe 5 or 6) I had tears in my eyes! He said what’s wrong? I just said I need another beer! My point in writing this is…You never know that (something as small as a potato) can have such a big influence in someone’s life! Thanks for another great post! Stay safe and God Bless.
OH Bill, you gotta love this! Oh man, these are the moments we pray for, that our example will follow generation after generation. Good job, thanks for sharing this wonderful story with us! Just think if every parent taught their kids to be self-reliant…wow what a wonderful world we would be. Love it, Linda