NDSU Extension - Mercer County

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All Eyes on Potatoes

potatoes, storing potatoes, baked potatoes

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Sciences

For most local growers, garden harvest is complete. Comments from our community gardeners have me thinking about potatoes.

Potatoes should be stored in a cool and humid place. Initially, potatoes should be stored at temperatures of 50 to 60 F and high humidity (about 95 percent) for two or three weeks to permit the skin to cure and wounds to heal. For long-term storage (up to nine months or longer) in the upper Midwest, you should drop temperatures gradually to about 38 to 40 F prior to Dec. 1. You should maintain this temperature through the winter storage season. Good air circulation will reduce storage rots and sprouting, but humidity levels should remain high to minimize shrink due to moisture loss. The presence of condensation will encourage rotting.

Avoid storing raw potatoes in the refrigerator because potato starch can change to sugar. This can result in excessive browning during cooking (especially frying) and an undesirable sweet flavor. Do not store potatoes close to fruit. Ripening apples and other fruit give off ethylene. Ethylene is a plant hormone that encourages potatoes to sprout prematurely. Do not store potatoes where they will be exposed to light. Potato tubers are botanically a modified stem; light causes them to green.

Most people like potatoes because they are fairly inexpensive and can be used in many ways. Have you made potato soup, garlic mashed potatoes, oven-roasted potatoes or baked fries?

Potatoes sometimes have the reputation of being “fattening.” Potatoes are actually a nutritional bargain! A 5 ½ ounce potato has about 100 calories, no fat, 26 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 21 percent of the daily recommendation for potassium, 45 percent of the daily recommendation for vitamin C, and other nutrients, too. The reality is, some of the toppings that you add to a potato may add a lot of calories. If you like higher-calorie toppings such as bacon, sour cream and cheese, add a smaller amount to trim the calories.

Here’s how to make a baked potato with a tender, flaky texture. Start with a “baking potato” such as a brown-skinned Russet:

  • Preheat oven to 400 F.
  • Rinse the potatoes under cold running water and scrub with a vegetable brush.
  • Dry with a paper towel.
  • Remove any bruises with the tip of a knife.
  • Poke with a fork or knife four or five times (to allow the steam to escape during baking and avoid a mess in your oven).
  • For crisp skin, rub the outside lightly with vegetable oil and salt lightly.
  • Bake about 45 minutes.
    Note: Alternatively, you can bake potatoes at 350 F for 60 minutes.

Top them creatively with these ideas:

  • Leftover chili with kidney beans
  • Leftover broccoli-cheese soup
  • Shredded roast chicken, beef or pork mixed with barbecue sauce
  • Plain Greek yogurt sprinkled with chives
  • Salsa and finely shredded cheddar cheese

For more recipes, visit the U.S. Potato Board Web site, www.healthypotato.com.

For more information, visit these NDSU Extension Service Web sites:

Nutrition, food safety and health: www.ag.ndsu.edu/food

Horticulture: www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/horticulture.htm

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