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Potatoes

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Preview of Potato

Available

January 1 - December 31

Harvest Period

August 15 - November 15

From its birthplace in the Andes Mountains, the potato has become a staple crop in cultures around the globe.  Initially, Europeans feared this vegetable due to its similarity to other plants in the nightshade family that were known to be poisonous.  However, it didn’t take long before the new tuber became a widely accepted and favourite food. Today, the potato is the 4th most important crop in the world after wheat, rice, and corn.

What to Look For

Choose dry, well-formed potatoes, free from bruises, dark or green spots, cuts, cracks and sprouted eyes.

Cleaning and Preparation

Give the skin a good scrubbing to remove any dirt and sprouts. Since we are unable to digest the starch in raw potatoes, they must always be cooked before eating.

Storage

Store potatoes in a cool, dark and well-ventilated space. The ideal storage temperature is between 7 to10º C. While potatoes may eventually develop sprouts or a green tinge, they can be trimmed away before using. If properly stored, a harvest of potatoes will keep fresh over the winter months.

 

Don’t refrigerate potatoes as the starch will break down into sugar, creating a sweet taste and darkened flesh. Avoid prolonged exposure to light, which causes potatoes to turn green with a bitter flavour.

 

Before freezing, wash, peel and remove any bruises or green colouring.  Cut into ½ inch cubes and blanch for 3-5 minutes.  Plunge into cold water, drain, and pack into freezer bags or containers.  Potatoes can also be cooked, mashed, and formed into patties before being frozen. 

 

Nutritional Information

 

One medium potato supplies almost half our dietary requirement of vitamin C.  Although potatoes are a moderate source of iron, the high vitamin C content promotes its absorption. They are a good source of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folate and vitamin B6, as well as the minerals potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. Since many of the vitamins are found in the skin, un-peeled potatoes are the most nutritious choice.

One medium (2 – 3” across) potato, baked with skin on, provides 160 calories, 0.3g fat, 37g carbohydrate, 4g dietary fibre, and 4g protein.

How to Use

Boiling and baking potatoes are the most common ways of preparing this vegetable.  In both cases, however, fibre, protein, and vitamin C are reduced.  It is best to keep the skins on whole potatoes when cooking in order to prevent nutrient loss.  While baking results in a higher vitamin C loss, other vitamins and minerals are less affected than when potatoes are boiled.

For the most part, white and red round potatoes are best boiled, while oblong potatoes are better suited for baking.

Varieties

Baking potatoes include Russet Burbank, Russet Norkotah and Frontier Russet.

White round potato varieties include Kennebec, Superior, Cherokee and Yukon Gold.

Popular red round potatoes are Chieftan, Rideau, Norland and Sangre.