Potatoes

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History

The Inca Indians in Peru were the first to cultivate potatoes around 8,000 BC to 5,000 B.C. In 1536 Spanish Conquistadors conquered Peru, discovered the flavors of the potato, and carried them to Europe.

Sir Walter Raleigh introduced potatoes to Ireland in 1589 on the 40,000 acres of land near Cork. It took nearly four decades for the potato to spread to the rest of Europe.

Eventually, agriculturalists in Europe found potatoes easier to grow and cultivate than other staple crops, such as wheat and oats. Most importantly, it became known that potatoes contained most of the vitamins needed for sustenance, and they could be provided to nearly 10 people for each acre of land cultivated.

Potatoes arrived in North America in 1621 when the Governor of Bermuda, Nathaniel Butler, sent two large cedar chests containing potatoes and other vegetables to Governor Francis Wyatt of Virginia at Jamestown. The first permanent potato patches in North America were established in 1719.

Early on (1850’s) most Americans considered the potato as food for animals rather than for humans due to its associated risk of disease.

It was not until the Russet Burbank potato was developed by American horticulturist Luther Burbank (1849-1926) in 1872 that the potato industry in the United States really took off.  Burbank, while trying to improve the Irish potato, developed a hybrid that was more disease resistant.  He introduced the Burbank potato to Ireland to help combat the blight epidemic.  By the early 1900s, the Russet Burbank potato began appearing throughout Idaho, the current potato powerhouse.

  • the number of hectares

    3 500

  • collected tons

    33 836

Types

There are more than 200 varieties of potatoes sold throughout the United States. Each of these varieties fit into one of seven potato type categories: russet, red, white, yellow, blue/purple, fingerling and petite. These types can be generally categorized into three different groups(Starchy, Waxy, and All Purpose) based on their cooked texture and functionality.

Starchy:

Also known as “mealy,” starchy potatoes, which include Russets, Idahos and many yams and sweet potato varieties, are, as the descriptor says, high in starch. They are also low in moisture, fluffy and absorbent, making them ideal for baking, frying, boiling, and mashing. Because the flesh flakes and separates easily after cooking, they do not hold their shape compared to waxy potatoes.

Waxy:

Waxy potatoes are low in starch, high in sugar and moisture, and tend to hold their shape, even after cooking. They have thinner skin, a smoother texture and are generally smaller and rounder. Common varieties include French fingerling or Red Bliss. They hold their shape well after cooking, they’re ideal for boiling, roasting and incorporating in dishes like gratins or potato salad, where you’ll want the potato to stay intact.

All-Purpose:

All-purpose potatoes, like Yukon Golds, fall somewhere in the middle. They are less starchy than your typical high-starch potato and hold their shape better than them, too. But they are decently absorbent and fluffy, making them suitable for any type of potato dish, especially in a pinch. These can be used for mashed potatoes, as well.

Fun Facts

1. POTATOES ARE IN SPACE

In October 1995, the potato became the first vegetable to be grown in space. NASA and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, created the technology with the goal of feeding astronauts on long space voyages, and eventually, feeding future space colonies.

 

2. WORLD’S LARGETS POTATO

The world’s largest potato weighed in at 18 pounds, 4 ounces according to the Guinness Book of World Records. That’s enough for 73 portions of medium fries at McDonalds.

 

3. ECO-FRIENDLY

Potatoes are among most environmentally friendly vegetables. They’re easy to grow, and don’t require massive amounts of fertilizer and chemical additives to thrive like many other vegetables do.

 

4. NORTH AMERICAN DIET STAPLE

The average American eats 140 pounds of potatoes per year. Germans are among biggest potato lovers as they eat more than 200 pounds of potato per year.

 

5. POTATO BOOZE

Potatoes are 80% water AND are also used to brew alcoholic beverages such as vodka, potcheen, or akvavit!

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