By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician
A long, long time ago, when there was an Ohio State fair, Taterella, a young college damsel spent sweaty afternoons and evenings in the Bricker building, baking hundreds of potatoes. In her Potato Palace, Taterella baked potatoes, topped them with delicious toppings and served them up to the peasants of the Ohio land. Her spuds were known far and wide. Taterella had grown up in the land of soy and maize but loved potatoes so. Taterella’s hot, sticky nights were draining, but she was rescued from demise when the fair ran its course. This is my potato story, but the history of the potato goes a few more long years further back.
Where did these little tots of goodness come from? The story goes that the Incas back in 8000 to 6000 B.C. began cultivating potatoes. Then those pesky Spanish Conquistadors invaded Peru in 1536, discovered the tasty treats and pillaged some starchy booty back to share with all their European friends. Sir Walter Raleigh introduced his souvenirs to the Irish in 1589, taking nearly 40 more years to spread throughout the old countries. Potatoes appeared in the U.S. fields around 1719. Today potatoes per propotatoes.com are the fourth largest crop in the world behind corn, rice, and wheat, with 33% being consumed fresh and 60% processed as frozen, chipped, and instant flaked or potato starch.
American’s love their potatoes. We Americans ate 30.6 pounds of fresh potatoes in 2020 according to Statista. It seems like 30 pounds is a huge amount and what’s even more amazing is that it’s decreased 17 pounds in the last 20 years. Ohio grew 324,000 acres of potatoes in 2016. That’s quite the heap right here in the home state!
More than 200 varieties fit into seven types of potatoes. Each type has distinct qualities that turn it into delightful flavors on your plate.
• Russet potatoes have a large light & fluffy inside with a thicker skin.
• Red potatoes have a thin skin and stay firm during cooking.
• Yellow potatoes have a buttery flavor with a creamy texture.
• White potatoes are thin skinned with a nutty flavor and stays firm throughout cooking.
• Purple potatoes are medium skinned with an earthy flavor and vibrant color. This variety is one of my favorites.
• Fingerlings are nutty and buttery flavor with a firm texture.
• Petites are similar in taste to their larger sized cousins with more concentrated flavors.
You can use the chart found on potatogoodness.com to select the best potato for the job. Since her time at the fair, Taterella became very particular in her potato pickings. My favorites are Russets for baking. Fingerlings and petites for roasting and pan sautéing. Yellow or Gold are my go-to for mashing or smashing. Despite the carb avoiders’ recent aversions to the potatoes, they are nutrition powerhouses packed full of fiber, potassium, folate, and Vitamin C. It’s all in the portion and what you dress them with.
No matter what type and variety of taters you choose, they are extraordinary and amazingly versatile side to every main you put on your plate. They can be mashed, smashed, baked, twice baked, fried, or turned into salads to tantalize even the most finicky taste buds. Try a new recipe this month and celebrate the world of potatoes!
Eat well & healthy,
Best Baked Potato Alton Brown thefoodnetwork.com
4 large Russet potato (if it looks like Mr. Potato Head, you’ve got the right one.)
Optional toppings such as butter, sour cream, shredded cheddar and/or scallions.
Canola oil to coat
Heat oven to 350 degrees and position racks in top and bottom thirds. Wash potato (or potatoes) thoroughly with a stiff brush and cold running water. Dry, then using a standard fork poke 8 to 12 deep holes all over the spud so that moisture can escape during cooking. Place in a bowl and coat lightly with oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and place potato directly on rack in middle of oven. Place a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any drippings.
Bake 1 hour or until skin feels crisp but flesh beneath feels soft. Serve by creating a dotted line from end to end with your fork, then crack the spud open by squeezing the ends towards one another. It will pop right open. But watch out, there will be some steam. Add toppings if using. If you’re cooking more than 4 potatoes, you’ll need to extend the cooking time by up to 15 minutes.
Warm Roasted Potato Salad potatogoodness.com
2 lbs. yellow potatoes
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons cooking oil safe for high heat (I use avocado oil)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon lemon juice (from approx. 1/2 lemon)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Optional: 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 400°F. Wash and scrub potatoes, and then dry. Cut each potato into eighths (or more for large potatoes).
Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Place potatoes on baking sheet and add chopped pepper and onion. Drizzle with olive oil and toss with salt and pepper. Add whole peeled garlic cloves on top of potatoes.
Bake for 60-70 minutes, until potatoes are soft and starting to crisp. Remove from oven. Using the back of a fork, mash roasted garlic cloves into a paste. Squeeze lemon juice over potatoes and add feta cheese. Add fresh parsley, if using. Toss potato salad together and transfer into a medium serving bowl and enjoy while warm.
Everything But the Bagel Tator Bites potatogoodness.com
2 lbs. / 900 g Yellow Potatoes
¼ tsp / 1 g Garlic Powder
½ tsp / 2 g Onion Powder
¼ tsp / 1 g Smoked Paprika
1 tsp / 4 g Kosher Salt
½ tsp / 2 g Black Pepper
Place the peeled potatoes in a deep pot, and cover with cold water by one inch. Bring to a boil, and boil for about 5 minutes until partially cooked.
Drain the water from the potatoes and allow them to cool.
Grate the cooled potatoes into fine shreds onto a clean, dry kitchen towel. Squeeze any excess moisture from the shreds, then transfer to a large bowl.
Mix flour, everything seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper into the potatoes.
Pour vegetable oil into a deep pot until it comes up the sides 1 ½”. Heat the oil over medium heat.
Form the shredded potatoes into 1 ½” drums. Fry in small batches for 3-4 minutes each, until golden and crispy. Transfer all fried tater bites to a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil.
Sprinkle with additional everything seasoning before serving.
Crispy Fingerling Potatoes Sandra Lee thefoodnetwork.com
1 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon grill seasoning
2 teaspoons paprika
Freshly ground black pepper
Put the potatoes into a large pot and cover them with water. Add a big pinch of salt, then cover, and put over high heat. Bring to a boil, uncover, and cook just until the potatoes start to soften but are not cooked all the way through, about 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return them to the warm pot. Shake the potatoes around to roughen up the sides and to let them dry out. Put them into a bowl.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Put a baking sheet in the oven to preheat.
Add the olive oil, grill seasoning, paprika and pepper, to taste, to the potatoes and toss to coat. Spread the potatoes out onto the preheated baking sheet and roast them until they are cooked through and crispy, about 20 to 25 minutes, flipping the potatoes once halfway through the cooking time. Remove the potatoes from the oven to a serving bowl and serve.