Potatoes, whether mashed, baked or roasted, people often consider potatoes as comfort food. It is an important food staple and the number one vegetable crop in the world.
The potato belongs to the Solanaceae or nightshade family whose other members include tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and tomatillos.
Potatoes are the swollen portion of the underground stem which is called a tuber and is designed to provide food for the green leafy portion of the plant.
The skin of potatoes is generally brown, red or yellow, and may be smooth or rough, while the flesh is yellow or white. As potatoes have a neutral starchy flavor, they serve as a good complement to many meals. Their texture varies slightly depending upon their preparation, but it can be generally described as rich and creamy.
Potatoes are a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, copper, potassium, manganese, and dietary fiber.
Wash and scrub any dirt off the potatoes. Peel, chop, slice, boil according to your meal.
The ideal way to store potatoes is in a dark, dry place between 45F to 50F. Room temperature, will cause the potatoes to sprout and dehydrate prematurely. While most people do not have root cellars that provide this type of environment, to maximize the potato's quality and storage, you should aim to find a place as close as possible to these conditions. Storing them in a cool, dark closet or basement may be suitable alternatives.
Potatoes should definitely not be exposed to sunlight as this can cause the development of the toxic alkaloid solanine to form. Potatoes should not be stored in the refrigerator, as their starch content will turn to sugar giving them an undesirable taste. In addition, do not store potatoes near onions, as the gases that they each emit will cause the degradation of one another. Wherever you store them, they should be kept in a burlap or paper bag.
Mature potatoes stored properly can kept for months. Check on the potatoes frequently, removing any that have shriveled, spoiled ones can quickly affect the quality of the others.
New potatoes are much more perishable and will only keep for a short time.
July - December
Potato Leek Soup
Scrub potatoes, do not peel and cube into small pieces, about 5-6 cups. Slice 2 leeks (I use the green parts too nearly 1/2 way up to the leaves) Sauté in olive oil. Optional: to make a leek-kale- potato soup, finely mince one bunch of kale and wilt with the leeks. Add potatoes, 1 T salt, 1 t pepper. Barely cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes. For a perfectly smooth soup, puree in a blender, if kale was added, it will be a beautiful shade of green. For the chunkier version, which we prefer, simply mash by hand in the kettle with a hand masher. Add 2 C whole milk or half and half cream plus about 2 C shredded cheddar cheese.