Everybody loves potatoes, whether roasted, mashed or crafted into crispy chips. Here is what you need to know to make the most of them.
Health first: potatoes boiled in their skins will provide up to 44% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C. Potatoes are also a great source of Vitamin B6, potassium and iron as well as being a source of fibre, magnesium, folic acid and Vitamin B1.
They are fat-free and only become calorie bombs when you fry them in a fat or smother them in high-calorie sauces or cream.
Select: When choosing potatoes always select smooth, firm and blemish free potatoes, if they have any soft or brown marks or spots discard them as they will deteriorate faster and affect the other potatoes they are stored with.
Store: The best way to store any variety of potato is in a cupboard or dark, cool and dry place to keep them from sprouting. Always remove them from the plastic packaging.
Prepare: To keep your potatoes from discolouring while you peel them keep them in a bowl of water with lemon juice until you are ready to use them.
Boiling: When boiling potatoes it’s important to make sure that all of the potatoes are more or less the same size so when they are cooked they are all ready at the same time.
Serve this versatile veggie:
BEWARE GREEN POTATOES
When potatoes are exposed to light - either during storage or if they have been grown too close to the soil surface - they will go green. This colour change is a warning of the presence of a toxin known as solanine that, in great quantities, can cause illness.
It is mostly found in the skin and 'eyes' of a potato, so if you don't have any other choice, be sure to peel and cut all green bits away before using.
To prevent potatoes from going green, they need to be stored in a dry, cool, dark (the darker the better) and ventilated area.
DID YOU KNOW
Potatoes are indigenous to Central and South America. They were discovered by Europeans when Pizarro destroyed the Inca empire in Peru and were brought to Spain around 1570.
From Spain they moved to England and Ireland it's said that Sir Walter Raleigh introduced them here in 1586.
Some, however, resisted them as a food for a long time. Until 1780, they were rigorously excluded from prudent French tables, as they were thought to cause leprosy.
Devout Scottish Presbyterians refused to eat them because they weren't mentioned in the Bible.
Russian peasants considered them unclean and un-Christian, calling them Devil's apples. In colonial Massachusetts, they were considered the spoor of witches.
But we know all of that is not true. In fact:
Potatoes are environmentally friendly. They're cheap and easy to grow and don't require massive amounts of fertiliser or chemical additives to thrive
The potato is the world's most important non-cereal crop, and fourth most important after maize, wheat and rice.
Make really crisp potato chips
Let raw potatoes stand in cold water for at least half an hour before frying to improve the crispness of French-fried or roast potatoes.