February is Potato Lovers’ Month!
Idaho â€“ a name you can trust!Â When you ask someone what kind of potatoes they like, most people wonâ€™t say they like Russet potatoes, or mashed potatoes, you will often get the answer, â€œIdaho potatoes!â€Â Statistics from a study on brand awareness show that 86% of all consumers prefer Idaho over potatoes produced in other states.
Idaho potatoes get their taste from the rich volcanic soil, abundant water from the Snake River, and a climate that provides warm days and cool nights, all of which make the ideal growing conditions for a taste that canâ€™t be beat and the highest quality potato around.
The consistent quality of Idaho potatoes is superior throughout the whole year, not just during one season.Â This is due to advanced storage techniques practiced by Idaho spud farmers.Â It is the only state that requires federal government inspectors on all potato products sold to the public.Â Because of this, the farmers insure that only quality spuds make into storage and into the market.
After a few fad diets that restricted food groups, the ultimate comfort food is back!Â Potatoes are not only delicious, they are nutritious!Â
Little known facts:
- Fat free
- Cholesterol free
- High in Vitamin C
- High in Potassium
- Good source of Vitamin B6 and Dietary Fiber
- High in Antioxidants â€“ ranked 5th out of 42 popular vegetables!
A common misconception is that all of the potatoâ€™s nutrients are found in the skin.Â While the skin does contain about half of the total dietary fiber, the majority, over 50 percent, of the nutrients are found inside of the potato itself.Â Cooking does impact the bioavailability of certain nutrients, particularly water-soluble vitamins and mineral, and nutrient loss is greater when boiled or with long periods of baking.Â To maintain the most nutrition in a cooked potato, steaming and microwaving are best!
Idaho potatoes are not â€œfattening!â€Â Itâ€™s what you put on them that is fattening. Â A medium sized potato contains only about 110 calories and it is much more satisfying to eat than most foods.Â Usually we will load on the butter, sour cream, gravy, cheese, or other fattening toppings and then accuse the poor potato of making us fat!Â Try a baked potato with a little lemon juice and salt and pepper or salsa for a low calorie but delicious alternative.
When buying your Idaho taters, always look for clean, smooth, firm-textured potatoes with no cuts, bruises or discolorations.
Store properly to keep fresh:
- Store in a well-ventilated place, preferable at a temperature between 45 and 55 degrees.
- Cold temperatures, such as in the refrigerator, cause a potatoâ€™s starch to convert to sugar, resulting in a sweet taste and discoloration when cooked.Â If live in a hot climate and must refrigerate, let the spuds warm gradually to room temperature before cooking and this will reduce the discoloration.
- Avoid storing in areas that may reach higher temperatures such as beneath the sink or next to large appliances.Â
- Keep them from receiving too much light or sunlight.Â They will start to â€œgreenâ€ as a natural reaction to the light.
- Store in a paper bag or perforated plastic bags for the best environment to extend their shelf-life.
- Donâ€™t wash them before storing as dampness promotes early spoilage.
If the potato starts to green slightly or begins growing a few sprouts, they are still safe to eat.Â Just cut these areas away before cooking and eating.Â
When preparing Idaho potatoes gently scrub with a brush and cold water and try to cook with the skin on if possible.Â
- To preserve the abundance of nutrients in your potato, cook it in its skin.Â Steam or microwave instead of boiling, as water naturally leaches some of the nutrients.
- If you do boil, consider using the water drained from the potatoes to moisten mashed potatoes, in soups, and in gravies.
- Refrigerate any leftovers within two hours of serving to prevent food-borne illnesses and consume within a few days.
- It is recommended that you do not freeze cooked potatoes at home as they become watery when reheating.Â A potato is made up of 80 percent water; and when frozen, this water separates from the starch and nutrients.
There are six main fresh potato varieties grown in Idaho.
This the most widely sued potato variety in the United States.Â It is high in starch and light and fluffy when cooked.Â Russets are ideal for baking, mashing, frying and roasting.
With rosy skin and white flesh, red-skinned potatoes have a firm, smooth, moist texture that is well-suited for salads, roasting, boiling and steaming.Â Round reds are often referred to as â€œnew potatoes,â€™ but the term technically refers to any variety of potato that is harvested before reaching maturity.
Round and long, whites are medium in starch with a creamy texture.Â They hold their shape well after cooking and so versatile that they can be used in most potato recipes.
Firm, waxy and flavorful, these small, slender potatoes are finger-sized (2 to 4 inches long) and come in a variety of shapes and colors â€“ red, gold, yellow, and purple â€“ with flavors like those of their larger cousins.Â Due to their small size, fingerlings cook quickly and their color and shape make for a welcome visual addition to any dish.Â That have recently become the top potato choice of many restaurant chefs.
Blues and Purples
Originally from South America, blue and purple potatoes are hitting the scene and are being grown by Idaho farmers.Â They have a subtle nutty flavor with flesh ranging from dark blue to lavender to white.Â Microwaving will best preserve the color for serving but steaming and baking are also recommended.
Widely used in Europe, yellow-skinned potatoes are finally becoming popular in the United States and as a result more and more Idaho farmers are beginning to grow them.Â Dense, creamy textures and golden color mean you can use less or not butter for a calorie-light dish.
Potatoes grown in Idaho will always have the â€œGrown in Idahoâ€ seal.