Fried potatoes are top choices for snacks and meals. A potato is usually fried by cooking potato pieces in hot oil. Potatoes are cut, chopped and fried as hash browns, french fries, steak fries, sliced potatoes and stir-fry cubes. Regional favorites are fried and seasoned with chili, cheese, garlic, rosemary or malt vinegar. The best potato for frying is usually a russet potato, but other potatoes have a place in the fry pan.
Russet potatoes are the top potato for french fries due to their high starch content. They hold their shape and make a crispy fry. The oval shape of the russet is good for making long french or steak fries. The famous Idaho potato favored by fast-food restaurants is a Russet Burbank. Other potatoes suited for pan frying include red potatoes, new potatoes and sweet potatoes. Their shapes are too short for traditional long fries but suited to pan fries.
Potatoes are grown worldwide. They originated in the mountains of South America and grow best in a mountain plain. Potatoes do better with cool nights and warm days for the plants to develop starch in the tubers. High moisture content and a sandy loam soil allow the tuber to grow at a steady rate. Potatoes are easy to harvest and clean when the soil is light and does not stick to the mature vegetable. Idaho grows about a third of the potatoes in the United States.
A basic potato is nutritious. It is high in fiber and potassium. A potato contains vitamin B6, iron and copper. The potato is low in calories and blends well with other foods and spices. The versatile potato is inexpensive and comes in a variety of sizes, colors and textures, and you can store it year-round.
Sort potatoes and remove molding or sprouting potatoes. Store sorted potatoes in a cool, dark and well-ventilated area such as a potato bin or pantry. Refrigerator storage is not recommended as this can cause potato starch to turn into sugar. Remove or quickly use spongy or soft potatoes as they spoil quickly. Discard potatoes with green spots or greenish skin or remove these discolorations before cooking. The green areas may be mildly toxic.
Green spots or green tint on potato skin can indicate chlorophyll or higher amounts of glycoalkaloids. Glycoalkaloids are natural toxic compounds that protect the potato against disease and insects. Potatoes usually contain low amounts of glycoalkaloids such as solanine and chaconine. The levels of glycoalkaloids may increase when the potatoes age, are damaged or exposed to light. In people, high levels of glycoalkaloids can cause headaches, diarrhea and more serious problems. Trim off green areas or peel potatoes to minimize exposure to these potential hazards.
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Phyllis Benson is a professional writer and creative artist. Her 25-year background includes work as an editor, syndicated reporter and feature writer for publications including "Journal Plus," "McClatchy Newspapers" and "Sacramento Union." Benson earned her Bachelor of Science degree at California Polytechnic University.
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