What is Potato?

(“Patate  ” )

 

 

The potatoes are one of the world’s most important supplies of food energy after rice, wheat and corn. Potatoes are grown all over the world in cool or moderate climate. It is easy to cultivate potatoes and they generate more food energy per acre than any other crop can produce.
Pound for pound, potatoes contain more potassium than bananas, broccoli or spinach, they also contain complex carbohydrates, vitamins C, B6, trace amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, magnesium, phosphorous, iron and zinc. Potatoes are low in sodium and without fat or cholesterol. Six ounces of potatoes contain about 120 calories, 3 grams of very digestible proteins and plenty of natural fibers.

 

 

It is believed that the potato plant has been cultivated for 6000 or 7000 years. Originally it grew in the Andes, and it spread from South America to the north to become the staple food for some Native Americans. In the 16th    century the potato was introduced in Europe, where it became popular for its characteristics: the good taste, the nutrition values, the easiness to grow, and the possibility to store it for a long time. 

 

In the United States there are many varieties of potatoes, but basically there are four categories that are consumed at present: Russet, Red, White and Yukon Gold.

The Russet Potato is oblong in shape with white flesh. Very versatile and used in many recipes, it is the preferred baking potato because the cooked flesh becomes light and fluffy. It is also recommended to make french fries for the low sugar and high starch content. It is mostly cultivated in the Northwest and all over the United States. The Idaho, Washington, Peruvian (the purple or blue) Potatoes belong to this category and the name derives from the location in which they are grown.

The Red Potato, which grows all over the U.S.A., is choice for roasting or boiling for its very high water and low starch content. It has red skin and a smooth white flesh; it comes in two varieties Pontiacs, and Norlands and it is available year-round.

The White Potato can be divided into two main types: the long white and the round white.
The long white is farmed in the Northwest and principally in California. It is oval shaped, it has light skin and a medium starch contents. When cooked the flesh becomes creamy and thick.
The Round White is the most common grown potato, because it is a tough plant, diseases resistant. It is mostly grown in the East and it is preferred by the farmers for the high yield. It is recommended for boiling, for french fries and for baking because of the creamy texture and the low starch contents.

The Yukon Gold is the product of Dr. Gary Johnson, a professor in the Horticultural Science Department of the Guelph University in Canada’.
After years of research, the team of Dr. Johnson developed the Yukon Gold, a cross-breed between the Norlands and a variety of yellow flesh potato of Peruvian or South American origin. The Canadian began to export this product in the ‘80’s and it became very popular in the U.S.A.
The Yukon Gold potato is oval shaped, it has a light rosy-gold, thin skin and a medium starch contents. When cooked the yellow flesh has a creamy texture and rich golden color. It is multipurpose, suited for any style of preparation, best for baking, roasting, frying or mashed; it is extensively used commercially in the production of snacks and frozen food.

All four categories are now grown all over the United States.

In New York State, Long Island’s farms are big producers of Round White potatoes that are excellent to make french (from the verb to french meaning to cut) fries and for boiling to make potato salads, mashed potatoes, and potato croquettes.

In choosing potatoes to make croquettes, try to buy new potatoes. Fresh Long Island potatoes are available between June and October and fresh potatoes, coming from various part of the U.S.A. are available all year.
Never buy potatoes that have been refrigerated, because the cold temperature transforms the starch into sugar and causes them to turn dark when cooked.

Some potato dishes whose names may sound familiar, when made Sicilian style, they become a delicious gourmet side dish or a tasty lunch.