We are sure you have tasted potato at least once in your life. If you have we are also sure that you love at least one of the forms of it. Whether you love potatoes as crunchy fries or decadent mash, you’ll have to admit that it is one of the most popular and most delicious things out there.
Potatoes are definitely one of the most popular food items out there. In many points of human history, humans have survived on potatoes alone and it has been one of the most consequential crops.
The importance of potatoes as a part of daily life can be seen between the years 1845 and 1852. Between these years, when the crops of potato were destroyed, a country-wide famine washed Ireland and many lost their lives, livelihood, and homes. Many left Ireland because they had nothing left to eat, all because the entire crop of potatoes got infected and spoiled.
Seeing that potato is such an important crop, you should at least know if a potato is a vegetable or not. So, do you know, is a potato a vegetable? If you don’t then read ahead to find out the answer to that question as well as some more interesting facts about potatoes.
Is Potato A Vegetable or Fruit?
Many confuse potato as a fruit because of its mellow and agreeable taste. This is completely understandable as the lines between fruits and vegetables are a bit blurry. After all, if tomatoes can be a fruit, why can’t potatoes.
The truth is a potato is not a fruit, it is a vegetable. To be concise, it is a root vegetable that belongs to the starchy family. Similar to pumpkins, butternut squashes, and corn, potato is a starchy vegetable. It falls under this category because potatoes have a large amount of starch in them. This starch makes up the soft and mushy flesh of the potato which is delicious as well as nutritious.
Growing Conditions of Potatoes
Potatoes are harvested all over the world because they can be harvested in almost any kind of soil. The only kind of soil it cannot grow in are saline and alkaline soil. A slightly acidic pH in the soil can be quite beneficial for potato farming.
The climate required for potato farming is also quite varied. It prefers the temperature between 20-24⁰C. So, in tropical areas, it can be grown as a winter crop and in cooler places, summer is the time for potato farming. With its huge popularity, ways have been found to grow and store the crop so that it can be available on the market all year round.
Shelf Life of Potatoes
In a pantry, under proper conditions, potatoes can last for up to 2 to 5 weeks depending upon the type of potatoes. If you want your potatoes to stay well for the longest possible time in normal room conditions, you should store them in an open container, so that they can receive free airflow. Keeping it in sealed or fully wrapped plastic bags will only cause the potatoes to go bad sooner.
If you want your potatoes to last longer than mare weeks, you can try putting them in the fridge. You can store potatoes in a fridge for about 2-4 months. Some variety of potatoes will last longer than another and leaving the potatoes in the fridge undisturbed until the moment you use them will give it the best chance to survive the longest.
Cooked potatoes survive significantly smaller times compared to raw potatoes. At room temperature, cooked potatoes last only mare hours, so you should finish them as soon as possible after you are done cooking them.
In a fridge, cooked potatoes can be stored for a day or two, but the taste of the dish won’t be the same as it would have been if eaten straight away. So, you should only cook your potatoes if you plan to eat them right away.
Freezing cooked potatoes will make them last for about 6-8 months and it is a great way to store food for emergencies like the one we have seen in 2020. If you had frozen meals stored in your freezer, you might not have had as bad a time during the lockdown.
Some Delicious Uses of Potato
No matter what country or culture you are a part of, we are sure that potatoes find a way to your dining table in some way or form.
In Indian cuisine, potato is a vital part of almost every savory dish. Be it chicken curry or some simple fried vegetables, the potato has a place in it. There also are specific dishes like vindaloo or gobi-aloo which are incomplete without potatoes. Samosas and chops are some more fried potato treats that everyone should try at least once in their life.
In other parts of the world too, potato is an unavoidable part of the kitchen. Thanksgiving is just incomplete without some mashed potatoes along with your turkey. And who could forget about fries? They are an essential side dish that completes the whole eating-out experience.
In Korea, potato pancakes are an ingenious way to make crunchy and tasty potatoes. And if you think potatoes are too plain for your taste buds, you should the spicy potato casserole of Malaysia.
Canada is almost as famous for their poutine as they are for their Maple syrup and extreme politeness. While in England they like to serve potatoes along with fish in their famous fish and chips.
Potato is one of the most versatile foods out there, the proof of which can be seen in the many types and flavors of dishes made with it. It is great not only because of its classic and likable taste but also because it has a lot of antioxidants and vitamins. It can help you maintain a healthy level of sugar in your blood, and also boost your immune system. So, there is no good reason for you to not eat potatoes. Go ahead and eat some without worrying whether it is a vegetable or not.