Featured Vegetable: The potato

Last year we had a less than desirable potato harvest.  One of our goals this year was to get better at staples such as potatoes.  Well…we have succeeded so far!  We are harvesting twice the poundage from each bed.  This is great news!  This also means you will be receiving a consistent amount of potatoes over next few weeks.  For some of you this might be a little piece of heaven, while others of you might find yourselves overwhelmed.  The wonderful news is that you do not have to eat them all now.  If you have a cool, dark basement you can store some of them until later in the year.

Quick facts:

*China is world’s largest producer of potatoes.

* The potato was introduced to Europe 1536, and subsequently by European mariners to territories and ports throughout the world.

*The potato is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates and minerals, particularly potassium-providing the skin is consumed- and fairly good source of vegetable protein.  They form a complete protein when eaten with meat, dairy, or grains.

* There are about 5,000 potato varieties worldwide.  Three thousand of them are found in the Andes.

* Positive affects on the human health: they are good against colon cancer, improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, lower plasma cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations, increase satiety. Potato is also rich with vitamin C.

*The first potatoes arrived in North America in 1621, and the first permanent patch was established around 1719 in New England.

* The world’s largest potato weighed in at 18 pounds, 4 ounces, found in England in 1795.

* Potatoes are also used to brew alcoholic beverages such as vodka, potcheen, or akvavit.

* A potato is a living organism.  If held at 40 degrees in a humid environment, the potato can store in a dormant state for up to 12 months.

*The Irish referred to potatoes as “spuds”, the name that came from a type of spade called a “spudder” used for digging potatoes.

* Potatoes were considered an aphrodisiac during Shakespeare’s time.

Storage tips:

*Most potatoes will keep at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.  Store away from light.

* For  longer storage, potatoes will keep best at 45-50 degrees, high humidity, and in the darkness.  If their environment is too warm they will sprout and shrivel; if too cold, the starch will turn to sugar

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