|Photo by Ann Overhulse Photography (My favorite Aunt!)|
The other day, VegetablePharm reg'lar, Gabrielle Kadar, the recently retired dentist from The Great White North, sent me an article showing the differences in cooking properties of each kind of potato.
The article can be found here: The Surprisingly Complex Chemistry of the Humble Spud.
Some excerpts that you may find useful:
The poster child of the mealy potatoes, at least in the United States, is the russet. As readers of this column will know, russets are the potato of choice for making chips. Their low water content means that when their flesh hits hot oil, much of the water boils off before a skin forms on the surface, leaving just enough inside to gently steam the chip's innards. Their plentiful starch molecules help form the skin, and the fact that the flesh is quite dense means the oil never manages to seep deep enough to make the chips soggy. Mealy potatoes make the best mashed potatoes and baked potatoes as well.
Woe betide the cook who boils them for a salad, however – they will disintegrate. The right spud for that job is one of the many waxy varieties, which tend to be thin-skinned, smooth-fleshed, and moist. They are only around 16% starch by weight, and when you boil them, they keep their shape. (They also have beautifully whimsical names – the Charlotte, the Cara, the Anya.)
And speaking of Martians, here's a science paper from 2007 in the journal Advances in Potato Chemistry and Technology: Potatoes for Human Life Support in Space
The researchers concluding comments:
Small- scale space flight experiments showed that tubers can form and sprout in weightlessness. Clearly these are just modest steps toward the ultimate use of plants for human life support in space, but I am convinced that potatoes will one day supply food and oxygen to humans living on other planets, just as they have for hundreds of years on Earth.
Sign me up!
If you haven't seen the movie, The Martian, I highly recommend it. A quote from the movie (and book):