Healthy ways to cook potatoes

There are significant differences in the nutrient content of the
potato based on the method of preparation.

Keeping the skin on while cooking ensures that you will receive the maximum amount of fibre, vitamins and anti-oxidants from your nutrition-packed potato.

High cooking temperatures used in frying and roasting destroy some nutrients; micro-waving or steaming preserve the most.

SA Life Magazine 2013-06_JUNE
Click on the image to see potato recipes as featured in the July edition of SA Life magazine.

 

Here are some tips:

  • Grill, dry roast, microwave, BBQ, steam or boil potatoes
  • Use oil, butter, and margarine minimally
  • Boil in chicken or vegetable stock or milk to enrich their flavour
  • Add fresh herbs, spices, salsa, lemon juice, verjuice, balsamic vinegar, pepper and salt to cooked potatoes
  • Use buttermilk, skim milk, low-fat natural yoghurt or sour cream when mashing
  • Top with cheddar, cottage or ricotta cheese
  • Use low-fat coconut milk in curries
  • Save the cooking water (and some of the nutrients) after steaming or boiling potatoes. Use it to make sauces, gravy or add to mashed potatoes

Storing Potatoes

In Australia, potatoes can be sourced seasonally ensuring a fresh supply all year round.  This means that there is little need for long periods of storage. However, appropriate storage methods in the short term will make your potatoes last longer.

Here are some tips:

  • Select potatoes which are firm with no sign of greening (see below)
  • Once purchased, potatoes should be stored loose in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place. A cellar is ideal, but any place where they won't be exposed to excessive heat or light will help prevent spoiling.
  • Always remove the potatoes from plastic packaging and place in a hessian or heavy paper bag, in a cardboard or wooden box or in a wicker/straw basket.
  • Avoid storing potatoes in direct contact with onions as this tends to make the potatoes soften and rot.
  • Potatoes actually require careful handling as they bruise easily, just like an apple or banana.  They will keep about a week at room temperature and for several weeks at 4° to 10° C.  Above this temperature, potatoes will start to shrink and are more susceptible to sprouting
  • Refrigerator temperatures are too low, converting the potato's starch into sugar, resulting in a sweet taste. The extra sugar also causes potatoes to darken prematurely when frying or roasting. (This process can sometimes be reversed by storing the potatoes at room temperature for a week to 10 days.)
  • Washed potatoes will not store as long as brushed potatoes (ie with the dirt on)

Green Potatoes

The greenish colour sometimes seen on potato skins occurs when the potatoes have been exposed to natural, artificial, or fluorescent lights. This can also occur if when a potato is growing and a crack in the soil exposes the potato to sunlight.

The green colour on the potato is due to the development of chlorophyll in the skin and the associated formation of increased quantities of alkaloids called solanines.  It is concentrated close to the potatoes surface and is easily removed when peeled. If potatoes have green patches, cut them off as they will have a faintly bitter taste. The rest of the potato will taste perfectly.

Black Spots

This is one of the hardest things to detect when potatoes are harvested, washed, graded and packed for consumers. Black spots just below the skin of the potato can occur if the potato is stored at too cold a temperature (below 4° C) or when a potato is significantly bruised through dropping of squashing. The damage does not appear immediately but can become noticeable after one or two days in storage. Since the skin is not broken it is very hard to detect black spots until the potato is cooked.  There is no decrease in eating quality.