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Wednesday
Apr132011

The Potato: Earthy Goodness

Potatoes fall into two categories: Starchy & Waxy

Starchy potatoes are best used for baking. Russets are starchy potatoes and have more starch than moisture, therefore they absorb more liquid creating a fluffy texture when cooked. They are excellent as baked or as au gratin, whereby the potato absorbs the liquid and thickens the cream of the au gratin.

Waxy potatoes are best used for boiling. Red potatoes, which are waxy, have more moisture than starch therefore they hold their shape much better. Excellent for potato salads or for oven roasting.   

Here is a quick-glance potato legend:

Yellow (such as Yukon Gold):These are all-purpose potatoes and are best for frying, steaming, boiling, baking, roasting and mashing.

Red: Best for au gratin, boiling, steaming and scalloped.

Russet (high starch): Best for mashing, boiling and baking.

White (low starch): Best for roasting, mashing, steaming, boiling and au gratin

Fingerling: This low starch potato is named as a result of being finger shaped. Best baked, roasted or boiled.

Blue or Purple: This medium starch potato can be used for baking, boiling and steaming.

Potatoes are delicious, nutritious and versatile but they are also a bit tempermental. So, the next time you grab a bag of taters from your grocer, please remember:

  • Store in a cool, dark and well ventilated place.
  • Do not place in refrigerator. Cold temps convert the starch to sugar resulting in a sweet taste and unpleasant color.
  • Paper bags and plastic bags with perforations are the best bets to extend the shelf life....the taters need to breath and have air circulating around them.
  • Do not wash until you are ready to use as moisture promotes spoilage.  

And before I forget......

Ever wonder about those green potatoes that you see in the grocer or that you have sitting in your bin at home. The green that you see is a build-up of a chemical called Solanine which is the direct result of a potato being exposed to too much light. Solanine will give your potatoes a bitter taste and can also cause illness if eaten in large quantities.

If you have potatoes that are green, simply cut away all of the skin before using. And if your potatoes are sprouting, they are trying to grow which means that the current storage conditions are not ideal. Move potatoes to a cool, dark and dry location which will slow the sprouting. For those potatoes that have already sprouted, simply cut away the sprouts before using and all is good.  

 

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