Friday, January 08, 2010

Hot Potato!

Potatoes are a staple of many cuisines and a big part of American's diet.
Hash browns, home fries for breakfast, french fries for lunch, baked, mashed, roasted for dinner.... not to mention potato dumplings, pancakes, latkes, gnocchi, knishes, etc.

Potatoes are made up of primarily, starch & water and come in many varieties- some are starchier than others.

They are divided up into 3 categories:
High Starch/Low Moisture
Medium Starch
Low Starch/High Moisture

In high starch varieties, starch cells are full whereas in medium starch varieties, starch cells are under-inflated and the space left over is filled with water.

High Starch/Low Moisture Potatoes have little moisture and tend to soak up liquid as they cook, so they aren't the ideal choice for stews & soups - unless your goal is to thicken the soup. These include Russets & Idaho Potatoes - good for roasting, french fries & creamy mashed.

Medium Starch Potatoes hold their shape better in soups & stews and can be used in place of high starch potatoes nicely. These include Yukon Golds, Purple Peruvians, Yellow Finns.

Low Starch/ High Moisture - hold their shape best of the three potato varieties. They are referred to as "waxy potatoes". These include all red skinned potatoes such as Red Bliss. "New Potatoes" are freshly dug potatoes and are also low starch.

Now, at the store potatoes are sold labeled by variety (Red Bliss, Yukon Gold, etc) and/or - All Purpose. When using potatoes, it is helpful to know the qualities, so that when you prepare a dish you can avoid a disintegrating potato if you want to, but overall - a potato is a potato!

Potatoes were first brought to the US by the Irish and were brought to the colony of New Hampshire!
More than 25% of all potatoes in the US are made into French Fries (which originated in Belgium). Each American eats on average 30 pounds of french fries a year!

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