Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Cooking Potatoes

In the book, I have a whole chapter devoted to how to cook potatoes plain. Steaming, boiling, frying, and baking. Lots of methods for making tasty spuds with no oil or other ingredients. I also touch on the fact that there are different potatoes for different cooking methods.

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):

 





26 comments:

  1. When do you expect the book to be ready for purchase?

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    1. The draft manuscript went to the format and cover design editor today. They said 1-2 weeks. Then upload to CreateSpace and on to Amazon with another week or two delay. So, mid to late March.

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    2. In Holland they talk about "vastkokende" and "bloemige" potatoes, but curiously enought, it is recommended to use bloemige potatoes to make chips. I have always used the vastkokende soort.
      I have always found the bloemige potatoes make the best mashed potatoes.

      Jo tB

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    3. Dutch word for potato: aardappelen.

      Literally, "Earth apples."

      I always loved that word.

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    4. The best, most flavourful potatoes ever are Dutch yellow potatoes. What we grow here in Ontario is a poor imitation. pfffft. The Dutch know potato! Here it's just quantity over quality.

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  2. This morning a doctor was reporting a rise in Respiratory Syncytial Virus infections this season. Usually we have influenza but not this year.

    One of the things he said is a healthy gut microbiome will improve resistance to the virus and help to prevent the infection/disease from becoming severe.

    Tim, what do you think? Would eating potatoes a couple times a day, even if it's not hacking, help with this?

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    1. Of course I think so! lol

      But, you know, we talked a lot previously on viruses and bacteria that cling to starch granules through ligand mimicry, so quite possibly a starch heavy diet helps prevent viral and bacterial infections in other ways, too.

      Double whammy! Potatoes not only strengthen your gut and immune system, but help get the nasties out of your stomach and small intestine as well.

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    2. Shhh. Yeah that's what I did with my daughter when she had the Influenza: Fed her spicy curries, curried potatoes, lots of cooked vegetables: the woiks! Made her crap the virus out.

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  3. I'm one of those people who if they boil potatoes in plenty of water with or even without salt added too often end up with exploded potatoes.

    I decided to use my pressure cooker instead because I can put an inch of water in the bottom and pack in the potatoes. 10 minutes of pressure and then I let the pot cool on its own.

    On Tuesday evening when I poked a knife into the potatoes they were hard in the middle. I just left the potatoes and water in the pot, no added heat. Yesterday morning I found that the insides of the potatoes were no longer hard. I guess they cooked themselves from residual heat. The texture was just right. Not under and not over cooked.

    There were six medium sized Yukon golds.

    I've been using the pressure cooker frequently these days because it creates a very clear beef or pork broth. I don't have to simmer this stuff for hours on end stinking up the place. 1 hour under pressure and I get a very rich broth. Of course my pressure cooker is not enormous like some stock pots. There are pressure cookers that are quite huge.

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    1. Yukon Golds do tend to fall apart when boiled too long. They are a medium starch potato, very popular because they are "all-purpose." It's fun to play with the other types, as well. Red potatoes are the traditional boiling potato.

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    2. Russets are good for potato soup because they partly disintegrate resulting in some thickening. I still make a roux though. These other potato types are not really good for soup.

      All the potato soup or stew recipes I make have a souring agent added to them. Usually vinegar. Or real sour cream and vinegar. Which is interesting both from a flavour perspective and also from a slowing down of the digestion and absorption perspective.

      There's a Polish cucumber pickle soup that also contains potato.http://www.tastingpoland.com/food/recipes/ogorkowa_cucumber_soup.html

      And there's the ubiquitous Eastern European 'cold soup' consumed in the late Spring that contains either yoghurt or kefir plus cooked potato, dill, fermented cukes, radishes, chives, hard boiled eggs....http://natashaskitchen.com/2010/08/07/okroshka-recipe-russian-summer-soup/
      Take a look at this other one: http://www.deliciousistanbul.com/blog/2014/08/23/okroshka-russian-summer-soup/

      I would figure this is a probiotic, prebiotic bomb of a soup. With all those chopped green things, a person would get a soil based bacterial boost as well. Be strong like Russian! Eat Okroshka! LOL!

      I've made this a few times but only at certain times of the year (late spring). Winter is for sauerkraut potato soup.

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    3. Check out the Instapot!! It is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, yogurt maker etc all in one!! I convinced my wife to let me buy one, and she has never regretted it. Read about if first on Stephan Guyenet's blog.http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/search?q=instant+pot Handy, and cuts down on kitchen gadgets.

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    4. Sorry, Instant Pot. http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/search?q=instant+pot

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  4. Don't forget pressure cooker potatoes! So easy

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  5. I am really looking forward to reading your book, Tim. Am sure it will be great.

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    1. Mom! About time you drop by for a visit!

      Everybody, say hi to my Mom! She's the world's greatest librarian and cooks a mean loaf of salt-rising bread.



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    2. Hi, Tim's Mom! You raised an interesting boy.

      CR

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    3. Hi Paula! Tim keeps us informed and does it in a fun way. What is this salt-rising bread?
      Jerry

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    4. Hi Tim's Mom!

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  6. Hi everyone. I thought I could be anonymous on here so I can see what you are saying about my boy=) It all sounds good so far so I could start using Steele again. Haven't used Skopik for a long time. Salt Rising Bread is a very old recipe that doesn't use regular yeast, You make a "starter" with corn meal, sugar, boiling water and can guess the other ingredient?

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    1. Other ingredient? Hm. Seeing how Tim turned out, can I guess "raw potatoes"?

      I second the request! Guest post, guest post, guest post.....from Tim's mum.

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  7. I nominate Tim's Mom for a guest post so we can get that starter recipe!

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    1. +1 Not because I bake but I'm curious.

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  8. Hi Tim's mum! Thankyou for Tim :)

    The best way I've found to cook my potatoes so far is to bake them in the oven inside a lidded pot of some sort for 40 minutes at 180C. Then I turn the oven off and leave until cool enough to put in the fridge. I find them quite firm in the middle, but not raw. Perfect. :)

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