Potatoes- not just for the Irish

Mr Potato head man not agree but potatoes are the world’s true superfood, we all consider them just a simple vegetable that can be used in plenty of ways but there is more to the humble potato then just that.

I had promised a friend that I’d do a post on potatoes a wee while back and I am not one to break a promise. On doing a little research for my post I actually have learnt a fair bit that I didn’t know at all. I had always assumed that potatoes originated from Ireland or Scotland or one of those other countries commonly associated with them. But the reality is quite different, genetic testing (yes, some scientist decided that we all needed to know this) has shown that they actually originated from what is now southern Peru and north- western Bolivia (thanks wiki). Also I learnt that the Great Irish Potato Famine was in fact caused by a lack of variety in cultivars which resulted in a crop which was vulnerable against blight. I think this is something all gardeners and farmers can learn from selective breeding never leads to anything good.

So why do I believe potatoes are the real superfood, well not only can you do almost anything with them in the kitchen they have so many other uses as well. I remember as a child cutting shapes into them and using them as stamps for art projects. Other than that here are some surprising uses for potatoes that you may not have known about:

  • Removal of dark circles from under the eyes; Place slices of raw potato wrapped in a cloth and place on the eyes for 15-20mins or alternatively you could apply potato juice with a cotton bud. Always remember to wash off afterwards. It also supposedly works for wrinkles and dark spots. This site lists 20 Best uses for potatoes for skin, hair and health.
  • Use the starch from boiled potatoes in your laundry to make your sheets lovely and crisp. Or put the water into a spray bottle and use whilst ironing.
  • As a rust remover; The texture of a raw potato is perfect for scrubbing off rust and the acid inside the potato dissolves the rust, if you add soap and salt it adds to its effectiveness even more.
  • As hand warmers; it was common practice in the “olden” days for women (and possibly men) to place hot potatoes in their cloak pockets on cold days to keep their hands warm. Potatoes hold their temperature well so work well as hot and cold packs.

As you can see they are more than just something you can eat. But eating is definitely my favourite, fried, boiled, roasted, mashed, any way possible eating is always best.

Some things I use potatoes for that aren’t that “normal”; I use mashed potato to thicken casseroles or pies. I discovered this by accident once when I was trying to top a pie with mashed potato but the filling was too liquid. The potato sank and so to solve the issue of having a blob of potato in the middle of my pie I stirred it into the filling which in turn resolved the issue of it being too liquid. In baking, that isn’t that unusual as you can get potato flour. There are so many uses it is crazy, essentially if you can think it up you can do it with potatoes.

Ok, so I haven’t really covered how they are a superfood other than the amazing diversity of their uses.

Here are the facts:

One large potato contains:

0g of fat

0g of Cholesterol

30mg of Sodium

63g of Carbohydrates which contain 7g of dietary fibre and 4g of sugars

7g of protein

Daily intakes:

48% of vitamin C

18% Iron

4% Calcium

1% Vitamin A

See there is more to the potato then meets the eye. A lot of people eat mountain loads of pasta these days and don’t get me wrong there is something spectacular about a good plate of fresh pasta but the majority of the time it lacks the nutritional value that a potato possesses. Also kids LOVE potatoes. You can happily and easily make oven baked hot chips for them and smother them in homemade tomato sauce (sneaking in a few other fruits and vegetables as well; blenders are amazing) and know that your child is getting everything they need to grow up healthy and strong. Maybe there is a little truth to the saying “the luck of the Irish”, maybe their fortune at the end the of a rainbow wasn’t the pot of coins we all imagined but actually a pot of golden roast potatoes.

On top of that you can use them to make alcohol, making vodka from potatoes is something that has occurred for a very very long time but you also have to be very careful with it because potatoes can contain arsenic. So if you are looking at making vodka from them I suggest you follow some instructions word for word so as not to get really rather ill.  Here are some instructions here: Potato vodka/Moonshine.

This post has taught me a lot and to be honest I’m a little ashamed at how little I knew about potatoes, when I was little the town I grew up in titled itself ‘Spud city’ purely because we had a lot of potatoes farmers and every year had spud picking races at our christmas carnival. Anyway in my travels I have discovered there is even a recipe website purely dedicated to potatoes; If you have any lying around how about put them to use with something from this website. Best potato recipes, it has everything potato from gardening to cooking to Halloween treats. Yes, you read that right. I know in recent years “potato” has been used as a derogatory term for someone who is a bit slow or doesn’t do much but the reality is quite different. It may look as though potatoes do nothing but secretly they are the most useful thing you could ever have. If you have a potato you can easily make a meal.

Happy cooking, happy gardening, happy eating and happy homesteading.







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