Know Your Potato
Did you know that 3,000 varieties of potatoes are grown in the United States alone? Yes-3,000, but only 100 are grown regularly. For those of you who thought a potato was…well, just a potato, we’ve got some helpful cooking hints for you. There’s a variety for nearly every diet and recipe. Each potato type has its own unique color, taste, shape, and texture.
But, one thing all spuds have in common is their nutritional value. Potatoes are the number-one source of potassium-a vital mineral that most Americans are lacking!
How well do you know America’s favorite veggie? Check out the varieties below.
Round Processing Whites:
Round Processing Whites have smooth light-to-medium buff skin and white internal flesh color. Most varieties have eyes that are shallow and well distributed. Chip processing white varieties have a consistently higher specific gravity usually of 1.080 to 1.100. These chipping varieties produce bright colored chips with higher production yields. Round white varieties used in the fresh food processing industry have an average specific gravity of 1.065 to 1.075. These lower specific gravity varieties are not generally utilized in chip production.
Round Fresh Whites:
Round Fresh Whites have smooth, light tan skin, and are also called Eastern Potatoes. Round Fresh Whites are low-starch potatoes that are best used for scalloped potatoes, roasting, and potato salads.
With rosy red skin and white flesh, these potatoes are generally round, though some may be more oblong. Small red potatoes harvested before they reach maturity are low in starch and sweet in flavor. They are good for boiling, roasting, and slicing. Red potatoes make an attractive potato salad when prepared with skins left on.
Another naturally nutritious variety, Russets are high in starch with a brown skin and white flesh. Russets are great for baking, mashing, and frying. Their floury texture when cooked makes them the ideal choice for baking and a good choice for mashed potatoes.
Yellow potatoes are popular for their buttery texture, and lend themselves well to baking, mashing, and roasting.
America’s all-purpose potato, the Long White is oval in shape with a thin, light tan skin and tiny “eyes.” Long Whites (also called New Whites) are medium-starch potatoes. They’re an excellent choice for boiling and frying.
These relatively uncommon tubers have flesh that ranges in hue from dark blue or lavender to white. They have a somewhat nutty flavor. Microwaving preserves the color best, but steaming and baking are also good preparation methods.
Organic refers to the way agricultural products are grown. Most all potato varieties can be grown organically. However, production costs for organic potatoes are higher and their production yields are lower than conventionally produced potatoes. Organic potato production removes the environmental concerns associated with pesticides and other nutrients. The National Organic Program’s standards outline the methods, practices, and substances that can be used in producing organic crops. The standards include a national list of approved synthetic substances for organic production. See the National Organic Program for these guidelines at http://ams.usda.gov/nop/indexIE.htm.
With these helpful hints in mind, you’ll know just which potato to pick up for your next meal!