Potatoes, an extremely common crop, without which our diet would be much poorer

Potatoes are among the most widely used food crops worldwide.

Even in Czech cuisine, they are part of a huge number of different dishes.

Do you know which potatoes are best for preparing a salad and which are best for dumplings?

Is it better to eat them with or without the skin?

Is it true that sweet potatoes are healthier?

Let’s find the answers to these questions together.

Potatoes and their division

Currently, potatoes are the fourth most used food crop in the world after rice, wheat and corn. Even though many, under the influence of how often potatoes are a raw material in our kitchen, consider them a Czech crop, this is not the case. You may remember from your history lessons that they originally came from South America and reached Europe in the 16th century thanks to overseas discoveries.

Potato varieties

Currently, there are more than 4,000 potato varieties in the world, but not all of them are grown for commercial use. In the Czech Republic, the varieties Adéla, Marabel, Dali and Antonia are most often grown. Individual varieties differ from each other, for example:

  • the color of the skin and/or pulp – the skin of the potato can be yellow, brownish, red or purple. The pulp is most often whitish, yellow or marbled or purple.

  • shape – some varieties are oval, others spherical, others oblong.

  • harvest time – according to the length of the growing season and the date of collection, potatoes are generally divided into early, mid-early and late varieties.

  • starch content – from the point of view of cooking, this is the most important characteristic on the basis of which the cooking types of potatoes are distinguished.
Various varieties of potatoes.
source: bonappetit.com

Cooking types of potatoes

Depending on what kind of dish we want to prepare from potatoes, we have to choose the right cooking type. Some potatoes are suitable for preparing salad, others for baking and others for making potato dumplings or porridge. Individual cooking types differ from each other primarily in terms of starch content. This subsequently affects their consistency, structure and flouriness. Generally speaking, the more starch a potato contains, the faster it cooks.

Boiling type A or AB

  • sebaceous, very little mealy varieties with a firm consistency.
  • they don’t boil
  • sometimes potatoes of this cooking type are referred to as waxy
  • suitable for recipes: potato salad, boiled potatoes , vienna salad, baked potatoes, potatoes in the skin

Boiling type B or BC

  • slightly floury varieties with firm to plump pulp structure.
  • versatile varieties from which most potato dishes can be prepared.
  • suitable for recipes: potato soup , baked potatoes , French potatoes , mashed potatoes, potato stew , also as a side dish, for example in the form of fries.

Boiling type C

  • mealy potato varieties with a rough texture,
  • prone to boiling
  • sometimes potatoes of this cooking type are referred to as starchy
  • suitable for recipes: mashed potatoes , potato cake , potato bun, potato dumpling, gnocchi and sweet potatoes
Suitable dishes
Cooking type A potato salad, Viennese salad, side dishes (boiled or baked potatoes in the skin and without the skin)
Boiling type B potato soup, french fries, baked potatoes, baked potatoes, french fries, mashed potatoes, potato stew
Boiling type C mashed potatoes, potato dumpling, potato cake, potato dough, potato pancakes, potato bun, potato dumplings, potato bags, potato pudding

Sweet potatoes or sweet potatoes

In addition to classic potatoes, we have also been seeing sweet potatoes, or sweet potatoes, on the shelves of our stores for several years. These are the tubers of a plant known as sweet potato. From a botanical point of view, sweet potatoes and potatoes belong to the same order of eggplants. Sweet potatoes originally come from the Central American region, probably from the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.

They most often have brown skin and orange or red flesh. But they can also have red skin and white, yellow or purple flesh. Sweet potatoes and regular potatoes have a similar taste, but as the name suggests, sweet potatoes are naturally sweeter, mainly due to the higher content of fructose, glucose and sucrose. In the kitchen, sweet potatoes have similar uses as potatoes, they are consumed boiled, baked, baked, fried and in the form of porridge or sweet potato soup .

Three variants of colored sweet potatoes.
source: myfoodbook.com.au

Why consume potatoes?

You can often see articles on the Internet that deal with whether potatoes are healthy or not. The answer to this question does not depend so much on the potatoes themselves, but rather on the way they are prepared. It’s common sense that ready-to-pee potatoes are different from a health perspective than French fries.

Sweet potatoes are higher in calories, carbohydrates and fiber, while potatoes are higher in protein and fat. Both crops are rich in various vitamins and minerals. Sweet potatoes have a higher content of vitamins A, B2 and E, calcium and copper. Potatoes are richer in vitamin C, B3 and B6, iron, phosphorus and potassium. Last but not least, sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index than potatoes.

Nutritional values of potatoes

The nutritional value of potatoes is usually stated in their raw state. However, it should be kept in mind that heat treatment changes the values and whether we eat them with the skin or not also has an effect.

Raw potatoes with skin
100 g
Potatoes boiled without skin
100 g
Baked potatoes with skin
100 g
Raw sweet potatoes with skin
100 g
Sweet potato plowed without skin
100 g
Baked sweet potatoes with skin
100 g
Energy 77 kcal 86 kcal 93 kcal 86 kcal 76 kcal 90 calories
Water 79 g 77.5 g 74.9 g 77.3 g 80.1 g 75.8 g
Carbohydrates 17.5 g 20 g 21.1 g 20.1 g 17.7 g 20.7 g
Proteins 2.05 g 1.71 g 2.5 g 1.57 g 1.37 g 2.01 g
Fats 0.09 g 0.1 g 0.13 g 0.05 g 0.14 g 0.15 g
Fiber 2.1 g 1.8 g 2.2 g 3 g 2.5 g 3.3 g

Vitamins and minerals

Raw potatoes with skin
100 g
Potatoes boiled without skin
100 g
Baked potatoes with skin
100 g
Raw sweet potatoes with skin
100 g
Sweet potatoes boiled without skin
100 g
Baked sweet potatoes with skin
100 g
Vitamin C 19.7 mg 7.4 mg 9.6 mg 2.4 mg 12.8 mg 19.6 mg
Vitamin B1 0.081 mg 0.098 mg 0.064 mg 0.078 mg 0.056 mg 0.107 mg
Vitamin B2 0.032 mg 0.019 mg 0.048 mg 0.061 mg 0.047 mg 0.106 mg
Vitamin B3 1.06 mg 1.31 mg 1.41 mg 0.557 mg 0.538 mg 1.49 mg
Vitamin B6 0.298 mg 0.269 mg 0.311 mg 0.209 mg 0.165 mg 0.286 mg
Potassium 425 mg 328 mg 535 mg 337 mg 230 mg 475 mg
Phosphorus 57 mg 40 mg 70 mg 47 mg 32 mg 54 mg
Magnesium 23 mg 20 mg 28 mg 25 mg 18 mg 27 mg
Calcium 12 mg 8 mg 15 mg 30 mg 27 mg 38 mg
Iron 0.81 mg 0.31 mg 1.08 mg 0.61 mg 0.72 mg 0.69 mg

Potatoes and health

Although potatoes are often considered a relatively ordinary food, in recent years there has been more and more talk about the fact that their consumption can be very beneficial for the human body. Especially when it comes to eating potatoes with the skin on. What effects do they have on our health?

  • Cardiovascular disease – high blood pressure is one of the main risk factors for heart disease. Potatoes contain a number of minerals, especially potassium, and other plant compounds that can help lower blood pressure.

  • Weight management – satiating foods can contribute to weight control by prolonging the feeling of fullness after a meal, thus reducing food and calorie intake. Compared to other carbohydrate-rich foods, potatoes are particularly filling.

  • Cancer – acrylamides are substances that are formed in foods rich in carbohydrates during their heat treatment at very high temperatures, especially during frying. A wide variety of fried potato delicacies, such as French fries, croquettes, potato chips, contain a large amount of acrylamides. Acrylamides are considered a possible risk factor for cancer.

  • Toxicity – Potatoes produce a toxic compound called solanine. Under certain adverse conditions, however, potato plants can increase solanine production, especially if they are in full sun. Solanine gives potatoes their bitter taste and green color. Symptoms of solanine poisoning may include diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain.

Potato juice

Natural and alternative medicine often talks about the miraculous effects of potato juice. Its consumption is said to help with many diverse problems with the digestive system, such as heartburn, stomach ulcers or nausea, as well as with migraines and headaches. Potato juice can be obtained very easily, just peel raw potatoes and finely grate them. Subsequently, the grated potatoes are squeezed and the resulting juice is drunk raw.

How to store potatoes

Are you also one of those who put purchased potatoes in the first place they find free at home, and then are surprised that when they want to use the potatoes, they are soft, sprouted and damaged in all kinds of ways? The problem lies in poor storage. The basic rule is cold and dark. The temperature is very important for storing potatoes, it should ideally be between 4-6 °C. Cellars, basements, garages or sheds are ideal places for storage.

Beware of winter and light

If you think you would be giving them cold by placing them in the fridge, or even the freezer, don’t. On the one hand, very low temperatures convert part of the starch into reducing sugars, and when potatoes are exposed to frost, the water in them expands and the potatoes are subsequently mushy. If potatoes are stored in the light, their skin may turn green. In addition, light makes potatoes prone to the production of solanine, which in turn causes a bitter taste.

In addition to the basic rule of cold and dark, the following recommendations are also worthwhile:

  • Potatoes need air, so do not store them in plastic bags or closed containers.
  • Do not wash potatoes before storing them, as this will unnecessarily increase the risk of mold.
  • Do not store potatoes together with other vegetables and fruits, some crops release substances during ripening that cause softening and sprouting of potatoes.
Different colored varieties of potatoes in baskets.
source: brandnewvega.com

Tips for preparing potatoes

Before any preparation, first scrub the potatoes lightly with a brush under running cold water. If you are peeling potatoes, use a peeler or a sharp knife. Did you know that you should always move the scraper away from you, not towards you?

Peel Potatoes Fast | BeatTheBush
source: youtube.com

Sometimes it happens that peeled, cut or grated potatoes turn slightly brown. It is caused by the reaction of the carbohydrates in the food with the oxygen in the air. The coloring is completely harmless and usually disappears with cooking. If you want to prevent browning, put the potatoes in cold water, ideally with a little lemon juice or vinegar.

How to Prevent Potatoes From Discoloration | Real Simple
source: youtube.com

Baked potatoes

Ideal baked potatoes are crispy on the surface and fluffy in the middle. Baking potatoes is easy. Preheat the oven to 180-200°C. After washing, cut the potatoes and rub them with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and/or other spices. Bake the potatoes spread out on a baking sheet with baking paper for approximately 30-40 minutes, depending on their size.

BEST ROASTED POTATOES | how to make oven roasted potatoes
source: youtube.com

Cooked potatoes

Most potato dishes, from potato salad to mashed potatoes, start with boiling the potatoes. Wash the potatoes and put the smaller potatoes in a pot with enough water. Ideally, all the potatoes should be approximately the same size so that their cooking time does not vary. If necessary, add salt and cook the potatoes until soft or semi-soft. It depends on what you want to use them for. During cooking, check their consistency with a fork.

Do you cook potatoes in their skins? Check out a simple trick to peel them quickly and easily afterwards.

Amazing Potato Peeling Trick!
source: youtube.com

Mashed potatoes

Peel the potatoes and then cut them into pieces of approximately the same size. Bring a pot of water to the boil and cook the potatoes until soft. Drain the potatoes, let them drain and return them to the pot on a low heat. Then mash the potatoes using a masher or other tool. Add butter, milk, salt and use a hand mixer to beat until creamy.

Mashed Potatoes Recipe
source: youtube.com

What is made of potatoes?

Potatoes don’t only have to be processed raw in the kitchen, they also make a whole range of other products, for example dried instant products, such as mashed potatoes or potato dough, and pre-fried frozen products, such as chips or croquettes.

Potato flour is made from whole potatoes that are dried and then ground into flour. It easily absorbs liquids and is therefore very suitable as a thickener for soups and sauces. It is an ideal ingredient for baking bread, gnocchi or potato pancakes. Last but not least, it emphasizes the fragility of the dough, and can thus be added together with other cans to doughs, such as puff pastry.

Potato starch, which is also known under the name solamyl , is used as an ingredient in baking and also to thicken dishes. Its advantage is that, unlike potato flour, it does not contain gluten, so it is also suitable for celiacs.

Potato alcohol, one of the types of food alcohol. It is related to the use of potatoes to make spirits.

Potato paper is made from ground potato peels, which are added to classic paper pulp. The result is matte paper with an unusual appearance and a rough surface.

Growing potatoes and interesting facts

It belongs to the eggplant family, just like tomatoes and peppers. Potatoes were first cultivated by the Incas in Peru around 8,000 to 5,000 BC In 1536, Spanish conquistadors conquered Peru and brought potatoes to Europe. They were originally cultivated in Europe as an ornamental plant.

Currently, potatoes are grown all over the world. China is surprisingly the largest producer of potatoes, almost a third of all potatoes are harvested in China and India. In Europe, most potatoes are grown in Russia, Ukraine, Poland and Germany. The United States of America is another world potato powerhouse. In the Czech Republic, most potatoes are traditionally grown in the Vysočina region.

Potato in the shape of a heart with a map of the world.
source: euppa.eu

The common potato is grown as an annual herb that grows up to 100 cm tall. As the potato grows, its leaves produce starch that is transferred to the ends of the underground stems. These stems thicken and produce several tubers near the soil surface. The number of tubers depends on the available moisture and nutrients in the soil. Tubers can vary in shape and size.

By the way, potatoes were the first vegetable grown in space. In cooperation between NASA and the University of Wisconsin, seed potatoes were grown in space for the first time in 1995 aboard the space shuttle Columbia.

Milan & Ondra

We are both fans of good food and enjoy cooking. On this website, we want to inspire you with traditional, but also less common recipes. We will be happy if you try our recipes and let us know how you liked them. Bon appetite! :)