Potatoes, one of the most versatile and fun ingredients to use. A starchy plant tuber-vegetable that is part of the nightshade family. This root crop is native to the Americas, globally available all year round, easy and affordable to grow, has a good amount of nutrients like vitamin C and potassium, and is very filling. These are so popularly eaten anywhere in the world that it has been ranked as the 5th most used vegetable worldwide. But have you ever wondered about the Potato’s origins and how it came to be so beloved ?
A short Introduction
The Potato plant also known by the scientific name ‘Solanum Tuberosum’ is a tuber root crop native to the Americas. Part of the perennial nightshade family (or Solanaceae) meaning that it can live up to 2 years and prefers to grow under the shade or at night time, making them relatives of the eggplant, peppers, tobacco, and tomatoes. These were originally said to be indigenous in the areas of Northwestern Bolivia and Peru around 7,000 to 10,000 years ago. Cultivated by Inca Indians from Peru, introduced to Europe from Spaniards who invaded South America in the end of the 16th century, which then passed on to Ireland in the 17th century, and by the end of the 18th century it became an important crop in Europe, namely Germany and West of England. Slowly brought into the New World or rather all around the world during the Spanish Exploration by Christopher Columbus.
How does it grow? This white vegetable is grown in the spring, awaiting fall for harvesting. They do not grow from a seed but rather from potatoes that already have some hard roots growing out of them. Sliced to pieces and placed a certain level below the soil which then turns into a special stem “stolon”. It will then grow pretty non-edible white to dark purple flowers and leaves upwards, while in the underground it has a number of potatoes going upwards from the roots (hardened stems). Different farmers or countries do have different styles of cultivating this ever-popular crop, from making sure these are grown in a controlled facility, the type of soil, to watering to keep the soil moist, the time to harvest, and how they check if the potatoes are ready. These can result to different types of potato classifications like baby potatoes which are harvested small due to not maturing fully, Yukon gold that has a smooth slightly yellow tinted skin that are said to be the best potatoes for potato salad. King Edward potatoes are white with some pink discoloration and has a floury texture. Kennebec potatoes are good at maintaining its shape when cooking, making it the best choice for chips, french fries, steak fries, shoestring potatoes and hash browns. Laura potatoes are mid-season firm potatoes with red skin and bright yellow flesh used for baking, mashing, wedges, and for roasting. Russet Potatoes are the most widely grown in North America as these are adaptable, less prone to diseases, and easy to add to any dish, with many more potato types around the world.
Nowadays, there are many potato made products. Not only can you buy this vegetable in dry markets, grocery stores or side stalls, you can also buy potato starch or potato flour, even potato flakes to be used to create baked goods, as a sauce thickener, and many more dishes. Though you are more likely to find this well-liked vegetable served as a whole steamed or baked, sautéed, mashed, fried with many more recipes found online can range to simple and or traditional, ham potato soup, instant pot potato salad, ham and potato salad casserole, or a Southern potato salad recipe, some incorporate this to make intricate and appetizingly appealing dishes like scalloped potatoes, potato puffs, herb potato gratin, elote bites, and the fan-favorite quick and easy snacks like french fries, potato chips, mash potatoes, and hash browns.
Benefits of Potatoes
Fuel the body with some potato-y goodness. A nutrient dense vegetable that can give you enough Vitamin C, energy and a lot more potassium compared to a piece of banana. Some Potato nutrition facts many acclaim why they add them into their diet are that these are sodium-free and cholesterol-free, with just 110 calories in one serving (5.3 oz). Here are some edible tuber benefits that will make you happy it’s such an affordable and versatile vegetable:
- Helps with blood pressure, because it does not have any sodium but has a good amount of potassium it helps maintain or decrease blood pressure.
- Cholesterol free is very beneficial for heart health. It is also rich in fiber thereby can help keep the heart from possible diseases.
- Used for weight management and digestion. Because it has fiber it can help prevent stomach problems like constipation, and keep a regular bowel movement.
- Producing collagen for the bones, this root crop has nutrients like calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc that balance the development of bones.
- Collagen and Vitamin C found in potatoes also keeps the skin and body feeling and looking more youthful, improving skin texture.
- For brain health, it decreases the chances of inflammation, maintains cell membrane structures, and keeps the nerves healthy.
The appeal of Potatoes to Filipinos
The potatoes or ‘patatas’ in Tagalog, was introduced to the Philippines from the Spanish. There are now a variety of potatoes like the common ‘Granola’ produced in Region 10 and CAR, with other named from where they are locally grown like the Igorota, Ganza, Dalisay, Solibao, Baraca, Kennevec, Raniag, Montanosa, AgriaGrolia BSU, and Bengueta BSU. A profitable way of farming, these are found all throughout the year but mainly grown in the months of November to April. Cooked in many households as the main dish, snack, added in as a filler, or to using them to feed animals like pigs, chicken, and house pets.
The best recipes to try :
- Potato Salad – A simple potato salad recipe that’s not only colorful but delicious and filling. In this recipe you’ll find tips on ‘how long to boil potatoes for potato salad’, what to add, and how to make it creamy and even more flavorful.
- Filipino Chicken potato salad – Elevate your homemade potato salad with some pieces of chicken. A guaranteed, quick, easy, and yummy dish to make for guests.
- Potato Pancake with Hotdogs – A scrumptious pizza dish that requires no dough and whatever you have laying in the fridge. Great for kids and adults who are craving for a quick to do pizza dinner. You can also find the NO OVEN version here : Potato Pizza (no-oven), and a simplified Asian style potato pancake using a pan here : Potato Pancake.
- Chicken Potato drumsticks – Tired of the usual corndog? Then try out this ‘healthy’ very seasoned crispy chicken wrapped with potato salad recipe.
- Potato Nest (Potato Egg Nest) – A pretty aesthetic way to wake up in the mornings. Made of eggs, potatoes, spring onions, salt, pepper, flour, with your choice of meat.
- Potato Omelette – Might be your new breakfast staple, brunch, or dinner go-to. Upgrade it with as many ingredients as you’d like.
- Cheesy Potato Rolls – a dish made with just a few ingredients. Perfect as an appetizer with its crispy outer layer, and soft gooey cheesy center.