Cooks can learn to love potatoes

A medium potato has 88 calories. It’s also a great source of complex carbohydrates and a near- universal favorite food, said Kathy Walsten, nutrition educator with Kansas State University´s Family Nutrition Program.

In fact, Walsten said, if cooks view potatoes as a no-no for family meals, their reasons may simply relate to a lack of information:

  • They haven’t “shopped” through cookbooks long enough to realize potatoes can be good eating without high-fat, high-calorie toppings or spreads.
  • They don’t know how to buy and store potatoes.

K-State Research and Extension horticulturists recommend the russet- or brown-skinned potato varieties for baking. White- or red-skinned potatoes usually are best for boiling or mashing.

No matter the potatoes’ skin color, however, Walsten recommends buying ones that are clean, smooth and firm-textured.

“You don’t want cuts, bruises or discolorations. Don’t buy any that are soft or have decay,” she said.

Walston advises: Don’t wash potatoes before storing, because dampness can lead to decay. Don�t store them in the refrigerator, because that modifies their starch and makes potatoes taste sugary sweet. Instead, keep them someplace cool, dark and dry – away from onions and apples, which give off a gas that encourages potato sprouting.

K-State horticulturists warn that when potatoes heave out of the ground and are exposed to sunlight, they can develop a greenish color – along with an alkaloid compound called solanine.

“That doesn’t ruin a ripe potato, though. You only need to peel away or cut off its green areas before cooking. The green parts would taste bitter, but the rest of the potato will be just fine,” Walsten said.


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