Potatoes, often called spuds, are native to the Andes in South America.
Potatoes are swollen underground stems, called tubers. Like most common vegetables eaten today, potatoes came to New Zealand from Britain and by 1880 they were a staple part of the early settlers’ diet. There are 10-12 readily available main varieties grown in New Zealand, however, there are many varieties that have limited or localised supply. The differences in texture, flavour and shape make each variety suitable to its own particular method of cooking. Potatoes remain the one of the most popular vegetables in New Zealand and often challenge tomatoes for the top spot in terms of household spend.
What to look for
Choose potatoes with no cuts, bruises, green patches or shoots. A smooth looking potato is not necessarily better than a misshapen one as some varieties characteristically have skins that are netted or have eyes in them. A potato does not have to look good to cook well.
Potatoes are classed as either 'waxy and smooth', or 'floury and fluffy'. The potatoes that are less waxy or less floury are considered general purpose potatoes and can be used for all cooking methods, however, the end result may not be as good as a potato labelled for baking, or a potato labled for mashing etc. Look for potatoes that have been cook tested and labelled accordingly, for example, ‘boiling’, ‘salads’, ‘mashing’ or ‘baking’. For best results select the right type of potato for the job.
As the growing season progresses, potatoes change; for example, an early season (October) Ilam Hardy is quite waxy; by mid season it is a good general purpose potato; by the end of the season when more of the natural sugars have converted to starch, it tends to be floury. However, not all potatoes show such a range of characteristics. Weather, climate and soil have a dramatic effect on the cooking performance of a potato. For example, a Southland grown Nadine may be very waxy whilst a Pukekohe grown Nadine may be only slightly waxy. The flavour is also influenced.
A ‘new potato’ potato is a young potato characterised by soft skin, so delicate it can be easily flicked off with your fingers. If you cannot flick off the skin, then the potato you have is not a new potato. New potatoes, with their waxy texture and sweet taste, are delicious boiled and used in salads.
Store potatoes in a well-ventilated, cool, dark place. Do not refrigerate, as there will be noticeable flavour changes.
How to prepare
Always choose the right variety for the end use; waxy, smooth textured potatoes for boiling, salads, braises and stews; floury, fluffy textures for baking, mashing, roasting, chips and wedges.
Preparation and cooking methods such as peeling and roasting/deep-frying in fat or oil can remove valuable nutrients and greatly increase the fat and energy content of potatoes. Adding toppings high in fat such as butter and sour cream also raises the fat and energy (kilojoule) content of an otherwise low fat food.
Bake, boil, braise, microwave, roast, steam, stew, stir fry, stuff.
Boiled, based on Rua potatoes
Serving size: 1 potato - 135g
|Fat, total (g)||0.3||0.4%||0.2|
|- saturated (g)||trace||0%||trace|
|- sugars (g)||0.3||0.3%||0.2|
|Dietary fibre (g)||2.6||9%||1.9||Contains dietary fibre|
|Vitamin C (mg)||12.2||30% RDI*||9.0||A good source of vitamin C|
|Niacin (mg)||1.4||14% RDI*||1.0||A source of niacin|
|Potassium (mg)||446||330||Contains postassium|
Percentage Daily Intakes are based on an average adult diet of 8700 kJ
Your daily Intakes may be higher or lower depending on your energy needs.
*Recommended Dietary Intake (Average Adult)
Source: The Concise New Zealand Food Composition Tables, 10th Edition, Plant & Food Research - 2014
As potatoes are eaten so frequently in meals of New Zealanders they are an important source of nutrients in the diet. For example, while potatoes are not the highest vegetable source of vitamin C e.g. 16mg/150g (150g is about the weight of a medium potato) because New Zealanders often eat potatoes almost once a day they provide up to 40% of an adult's daily vitamin C intake. Potatoes are a high in carbohydrate and for this reason are an important source of energy in the diet. They are also a source of niacin and contain dietary fibre and a dietary significant amount of potassium. The coloured skin and flesh varieties contain higher levels of phytonutrients. These include phenolic acids (many present in the skin), carotenoids and anthocyanins (red skinned varieties).
 FOODfiles 2012 Version 01
Store at 7°C with a relative humidity of 90%. When stored above this potatoes will sprout; below this the starch turns to sugar and the flavour changes. Potatoes are ethylene sensitive and should be stored separately from ethylene producing vegetables and fruits wherever possible.
Potatoes exposed to light can develop a green colour resulting in chlorophyll formation in the surface layers; as well, the toxic alkaloid, solanine is also formed. The amount of green pigment depends on the intensity of the light, length of exposure and age of potato. New potatoes are very susceptible to greening. Some varieties have quite a yellow flesh so don’t confuse this with greening. If potatoes are bought with lots of greening, return them to your retailer. If there are small amounts of greening cut off the green and use the potato as normal.
Purchase potatoes with the New Zealand GAP logo.
For more information about potatoes visit www.potatoes.co.nz
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