The Versatile Potato

Freshly picked potatoes

Freshly picked potatoes

Potato Nutrition

Potatoes are the tubers of the potato plant, where the plant stores its energy as starch. One of the most important crops across the world, they are the fourth largest after corn, wheat and rice.

There are hundreds of different varieties and are cheap to buy, easy to grow and filling. Potatoes are high in carbohydrates and vitamin C and are a source of fibre, protein, minerals and vitamin B-6.

Potatoes are often seen as fattening, but this is due to the often high amounts of oils, butter and cream commonly used during and after cooking. When steamed, boiled or baked plain they are nutritious and virtually fat free.

(There is nothing wrong with using fat in cooking and dressing, it is nutritious and adds/carries flavour, just don’t go overboard with too much that isn’t needed)

Buying and Storage

When choosing potatoes, make sure they are firm with unbroken skin and no signs of sprouting. Any with green patches should be avoided as they have had too much light exposure, causing them to develop toxins under the skin which can cause a bitter flavour.

Try to choose unwashed potatoes if possible, as the dirt protects against bruising and greening until they are ready to be washed and used.

At home, potatoes should be removed from any plastic wrapping and stored in a cool, airy place away from direct sunlight.

Preparation and Cooking

Preparation and Cooking

Steamed new potatoes

The type of recipe or meal the potato will be used in as well as the cooking method, determines the preparation and which variety will be most suitable. If When possible, avoid peeling potatoes before cooking as this will take away a lot of their nutritional value. If peeling however, try to peel as thinly as possible.

Potatoes are mainly available in 2 main types, floury and waxy. Floury potatoes are high in starch but low in moisture and sugar, causing them to break down more easily making them more suitable for baking, roasting and mashing. Whereas waxy potatoes are high in moisture and low in starch meaning they hold their shape, so are best for steaming or boiling.

However, many of the most popular more recent varieties have been bred for all use cooking. Supermarket or grocery displays and any packaging will show what the potato variety is more suitable for. A few of the more common varieties available and their most suitable cooking methods are shown below:

Cooking methods and potato varieties

Baking King Edward, Maris Piper, Desiree

Boiling King Edward, Maris Piper, Charlotte, Desiree

Roasting King Edward, Maris Piper, Romano, Desiree

Mashing King Edward, Maris Piper, Desiree, Romano

This article is part of our new recipe type 'Learn to cook'. These recipes will provide you with fundamental cooking skills and break down the nutrition information on various cooking methods.

Below is a link to all our recipes and the first potato recipe from our new series 'Baked Potatoes'.

All recipes link

Learn to cook recipes

Baked potatoes