Potatoes

Even though potatoes are relatively shortly in our country, they quickly inhabited into our kitchen. We even consider meals prepared of potatoes to be our traditional. After all, what would be Czech childhood without grandmother’s potato pancakes or roast duck without potato dumplings? And how about our Slovak neighbors and their national dish “bryndzové halušky” (kind of gnocchi – prepared of potato dough – with special sheep cheese)? For many of us it is difficult to imagine our diet without the potatoes. That’s why we decided to dedicate this newsletter and today´s article to potatoes. Did you know that potatoes belong to the same plant family as goji?

Potatoes belong to the Solanaceae plant family, as well as tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, physallis, or even tobacco or goji-wolfberry.
The edible “fruits” are the tubers, the rest of the plant is poisonous. Potatoes are one of the major agricultural crops. They are easy to natural conditions, have high yields per hectare and considerable nutritional value (contain citric acid, polyphenols, a variety of minerals, vitamin C, B1, B2 and PP, thanks to the starches are a source of quick energy).

Potatoes are used not only as food for people, but also as feed for animals (often replaced by soybeans and corn) as a raw material for the production of starch and alcohol, a large part of the production is processed into so very popular chips and fries.
Potatoes and products made of them make up a significant part of the caloric intake of the population not only in European countries.

History
According to the archaeological discoveries and modern researches it is considered almost certain that potatoes were domesticated 4-5 thousand years ago in present-day Peru, because potatoes flourished well in this mountain area, unlike corn.
Mainly due to the Spanish sailors, potatoes got to Europe in the first half of the 16th century. English and Irish colonists then brought potatoes with them to North America.
Potatoes became a staple food of Spanish sailors, because this crop lasted in good condition for a longer time and had been instrumental in preventing scurvy – a disease caused by long-term lack of vitamin C.
On the territory of today’s Czech Republic, potatoes began to be grown and consumed in a larger scale in the second half of the 18th century (in connection with the Prussian wars).

Storage
For potato tubers ideal storage temperature is 4-6 °C. Lower temperatures lead to freezing and higher to early germination. The room should be dry, dark and well ventilated.

Types
There are many varieties of potatoes, which can be divided into so-called cooking types. Do you know which cooking type is good for what?

Cooking type A – smooth-skinned potatoes, tallowy fleshed and yellowish color. The shape is elongated. They have a lower starch content and aren´t overboily, so they’re perfect for potato salads or any meal where they´re served in their skins.
Cooking type B – are rather not overboily. They have universal use both in salads and as a separate side dish – boiled /fried or in soups or stews.
Cooking type C – these potatoes have a thicker skin, are more starchy and mealy and therefore willing to overboil, which is ideal for the preparation of mashed potatoes and a variety of potato doughs.

According to the harvest season potatoes are divided to early potatoes (harvested before 30th June) and late potatoes (harvested after 30th June).

Are sweet potatoes potatoes?
Sweet potatoes are not botanically related to classic potatoes, but they are tubers as well and both come from Central America. Sweet potatoes are said to arrive in Europe a few decades before the potatoes. The energy value of sweet potatoes is higher than potatoes, which can be deduced from their sweet taste. Sweet potatoes contain iron, vitamin B6, C, E, beta-carotene, potassium, and fiber. Find more about sweet potatoes and other little-known crops here.

Whether sweet potatoes or potatoes of any cooking type, we recommend to cook and bake all in their skins. They retain the typical taste and flavor and a greater amount of their nutrients.