• Small spreading plant with stems that grow 40-60cm high.
  • The potato is actually a tuber which grows underground on the roots of the plant.
  • The plant is grown from the eye or bud on the tuber.

Potatoes are easily prepared as generally there is no need to peel, just gently scrub with a pot scourer or small brush and remove the eyes with a knife. Use whole, sliced or diced as desired. Because of their delicate, universally adaptable flavour, potatoes may be used frequently in meals without objectionable monotony. They may be served baked, roasted, boiled, chipped and scalloped; used in salads, stews or soup. Slice and bake in milk and butter, topped with grated cheese, or slice or dice into pies and quiches. Potatoes can be mashed and used in potato cakes, scones and breads. Those with a high moisture content are best suited to boiling and in salads. Drier fleshed varieties make excellent baked, roast or mashed potatoes and are ideal for chips.

The bud piece of the tuber is cut from the potato and planted by machine between February and July. Then, during the next three to four months, the soil is turned, weeds are killed and the grower makes sure the tubers growing on the roots are covered by soil. The potato is a cool weather crop, but cannot tolerate much frost. Well distributed, moderate rainfall or irrigation is needed. A heavy, well drained loam, made up of clay, sand and decayed vegetable matter, is the best soil for healthy crops. The potato plant also requires lots of light because the amount of sunlight the plant receives determines to a great extent, the rate of photosynthesis and the amount of carbohydrate available for growth of the tuber.

The potato is a member of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. The name is thought to have come from the Spanish word “patata” or”batata”, which was applied to sweet potatoes and, by mistake to the white potato. It is generally accepted that the potato, now commonly grown throughout the world, had its origin in the Andes of Bolivia and Peru in South America. Potatoes appear to have been cultivated long before the first explorers landed in America.

While little is known of the history of the potato prior to this, Peruvian pottery shows representations of the potato as a cultivated plant at least as early as the second century A.D. The tubers were probably in use for centuries before this. Between 1550 and 1570, potatoes were introduced into Spain, and about 1590 into England and then Ireland. From England the potato also spread to the British colonies, being introduced into Australia by the first free settlers.

Interesting Facts and Myths?

French fries are not French, they’re Belgian.

Marie Antoinette, wife of Louis XVI, was known to wear potato blossoms as a hair decoration.

When potatoes were brought back to England, the English were not quite sure what to do with them. Sir Walter Raleigh gave some potato plants to Queen Elizabeth I. When it came time for Queen Elizabeth’s cooks to prepare them, they tossed out the tubers and boiled the stems and leaves. Everyone at the table became very deathly ill and potatoes were banned from the royal kitchen.

Up until the late 18th century, the French believed that potatoes caused leprosy. Antoine-Auguste Parmentier, a French agronomist, set out to persuade the French peasants that the potato was a safe food. He used reverse psychology. He posted guards around potato fields during the day to prevent people from stealing them but carefully left them unguarded at night. So, every night, the thieves would sneak into the fields and leave with sacks of these precious potatoes!

Potato crisps were invented by mistake. In the summer of 1853, Native American George Crum was employed as a chef at an elegant resort in Saratoga Springs, New York. One dinner guest (who just happened to be Railroad Magnate Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt) found Crum’s French fries too thick for his liking and sent them back. The angry chef decided to teach Vanderbilt a lesson by producing fries too thin and crisp to skewer with a fork. The plan backfired. The guest was ecstatic over the browned, paper-thin potatoes, and other diners began requesting Crum’s potato chips. The potato crisp has never looked back.

Peru’s Inca Indians were the first to cultivate potatoes around 200 B.C. The potatoes they grew ranged in size from a small nut to an apple, and in colours from red and gold to blue and black. The Spanish conquistadors discovered the potato in 1637 during their conquest of Peru and took it back to Spain. From there it made its way to Italy and northern Europe, then to Bermuda and the Virginia colonies of North America.

It is most likely that Europe’s entire potato crop in the 1800s originated from only 2 plants brought back to Europe by the Spaniards. This lack of genetic diversity is almost certainly one of the causes of the devastating potato blight of the early 19th century.

The Incas of Peru measured time by how long it took potatoes to cook – “I’ll be there in 2 potatoes”.

The potato is the fourth most important crop in the world after wheat, rice and corn.

Botanical Name: Solanum tuberosum

Health Benefits

Potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C and dietary fibre, a useful source of potassium, magnesium, niacin and thiamine.

100g of White Potatoes (Flesh and Skin) yields the following:

  • Calories – 70
  • Total Carbs – 5% of DV
  • Protein – 1.68g
  • Dietary Fibre – 10% of DV
  • Vitamin C – 33% of DV
  • Calcium – 1% of DV
  • Iron – 3% of DV

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Selecting tips

  • Choose potatoes which are free from cuts and bruises, green colouring and shoots or eyes. Greening may occur in the harvesting area, the marketplace, the retail store, and the home.
  • When purchasing washed potatoes, be sure to keep them away from any light as the removal of soil from potatoes exposes the skin to light and makes the potatoes more susceptible to greening. Exposure to light also encourages sprouting.

Storage tips

  • Store in a cool, dry, dark place, not in the refrigerator.
  • Keep away from light as it will cause greening and sprouting.
  • Washed potatoes are best stored in the fridge but should be removed from plastic bags.
  • If stored in a cool dark place, potatoes will keep for a few weeks.

Sign up for latest news, tips and special offers

  • Hidden