One potato, two potatoes, red potatoes, blue potatoes! From the creamy buttery Yukon Gold to the bold Purple Peruvian, the Garnett Sweet Potato or the familiar Russet, potatoes come in many colors and shapes. First cultivated more than 4,000 years ago in Peru, potatoes are one of the most common food crops in the world today. In the United States alone, nearly 35 billion pounds of potatoes are grown yearly. Each of us eats some 125 pounds of the vegetable on average per year.
What makes the potato America's favorite vegetable? Perhaps it's because potatoes are naturally nutritious, widely available, versatile and easy to prepare.
Potatoes' nutrition punch
Potatoes are a very good source of potassium, which is important for heart health and to build strong bones. One medium baked potato provides around 20 percent of the potassium recommended daily.
Selecting and storing potatoes
Potatoes that have a green color have been overexposed to sun or artificial light. The green color indicates the presence of an alkaloid called solanine, which is bitter and can cause gastrointestinal illness if consumed in large amounts. Because of this, it's best to avoid "green" potatoes, or at least the green part. In some cases, only the skin is green and the flesh is not affected. In other cases, the greening penetrates the flesh, causing a bitter flavor.
The best way to store potatoes is in brown, perforated plastic or burlap bags in a cool (45 to 50? F), dark and dry location. Warmer temperatures tend to cause potatoes to sprout and shrivel. Storing potatoes in the refrigerator can cause their starch to turn into sugar, producing an undesirable taste. Potatoes do not need to be washed before storing, but should be washed before use. When stored properly, potatoes will generally keep about two months.