A member of the Nightshade family, potatoes can vary from creamy white to yellow, orange, red or purple skins. When growing, they form as a tuber at the end of plant roots and take 90-130 days to reach maturity. When the tubers are fully grown, the plant stems and leaves begin to die, the potatoes are ready to harvest.
Thought to have originated in the Andes Mountains in South America and used as early as 4000BC, they were first recorded as being used in Europe in the 16th century. There are many modern day varieties of potato: Sebago, Pontiac, Desiree, Kipfler, Pink Fir Apple, Pink Eye, Russet Burbank, Spunta, and Nicola. There is also the newer variety called Carisma, which is low GI.
The humble potato is a good source of energy 276kJ/100g, provide 1.6g fibre/100g and 12.8g carbohydrate per 100g. Potatoes are also high in essential vitamins and minerals including; B Vitamins (Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin), Folate (11ug/100g), Potassium (514mg/100g) and Magnesium (20mg/100g). They are low in fat and a powerful source of antioxidants providing 24mg/100g of Vitamin C.
Storing in a cool, dry, dark and well ventilated place is important to prevent greening of the skin which can be poisonous.
Available all year round they are a very versatile vegetable and can be cut to make chips, roasted, fried, baked, boiled, steamed and mashed! Try a washed but unpeeled Carisma potato baked in foil until tender and then drizzled with a little olive oil and a generous grind of black pepper, for a healthy side to a main meal!
Checkout Sue Shepherd’s recipe for Stuffed Potatoes!
Nutritional Information Source: Nutrient Reference Values for Australia & New Zealand 2006; NUTTAB 2010.
PLEASE NOTE: Fruits & vegetables in season may vary depending on where you live. Check with your friendly greengrocer.