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10 June 2011

To scrub or not to scrub: that is the potato question


Potatoes are a mainstay in our cupboard because these are very versatile veggies.  It can be as simple as being fried with eggs for breakfast, or it can be used in more elaborate dishes such as adobo, giniling, afritada, mechado, and loads more!


Plus, potatoes are good for you as shared by Wikipedia:
The potato contains vitamins and minerals, as well as an assortment of phytochemicals, such as carotenoids and natural phenols. Chlorogenic acid constitutes up to 90% of the potato tuber natural phenols. Others found in potatoes are 4-O-caffeoylquinic (crypto-chlorogenic acid), 5-O-caffeoylquinic (neo-chlorogenic acid), 3,4-dicaffeoylquinic and 3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acids.  A medium-size 150 g (5.3 oz) potato with the skin provides 27 mg of vitamin C (45% of the Daily Value (DV)), 620 mg of potassium (18% of DV), 0.2 mg vitamin B6 (10% of DV) and trace amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, folate, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc. The fiber content of a potato with skin (2 g) is equivalent to that of many whole grain breads, pastas, and cereals.
In terms of nutrition, the potato is best known for its carbohydrate content (approximately 26 grams in a medium potato). The predominant form of this carbohydrate is starch. A small but significant portion of this starch is resistant to digestion by enzymes in the stomach and small intestine, and so reaches the large intestine essentially intact. This resistant starch is considered to have similar physiological effects and health benefits as fiber: It provides bulk, offers protection against colon cancer, improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, lowers plasma cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations, increases satiety, and possibly even reduces fat storage.  The amount of resistant starch in potatoes depends much on preparation methods. Cooking and then cooling potatoes significantly increases resistant starch. For example, cooked potato starch contains about 7% resistant starch, which increases to about 13% upon cooling.
We used to buy the scrubbed variety, but have since changed to purchasing the unscrubbed ones as influenced by the TV show River Cottage.  We learned that the dirt enveloping the potato acts as protection from bacteria.  It also keeps the potato protected from exposure to moisture, prolonging its life.  Plus, we wash the potatoes anyway before using these so purchasing scrubbed potatoes is not really necessary!  So we have since then been purchasing these unscrubbed.

Here are other tips on getting the most out of your potatoes:

  1. Store these in a cool, dry, well-ventilated and dark place.  This is to avoid sprouting and introduction of moisture which can cause the potatoes to rot
  2. Do not expose the potatoes to sunlight as this can cause solanin to form which can cause adverse effects to health (headaches, diarrhea, cramps).
  3. Store potatoes in a paper bag.
  4. Do not refrigerate potatoes, as they will develop dark spots and affect the taste.
  5. Even then, properly-stored potatoes last for a few weeks only.  So do not leave them waiting too long.

Have you tried planting potatoes?  I have, and I can tell you it's quite a rewarding experience.  Do not use the potatoes you buy from the market, however.  Use "seed potatoes" which are sold by gardening suppliers (in our case, we bought ours at The Warehouse).  They're not fussy to grow.  I loved watering them everyday.

And even if you do not have space for it, you can grow these in buckets!  They're popularly called bucket potatoes (d'oh!).