Those who know me know I never miss the Munger Potato Festival. It is something I have been going to since college (actually since I turned 21) and I haven’t missed a year. Not to date myself, but this will be my 18th year. Looking through my blog, over the last 3 years, I have yet to dedicate one single solitary post to potatoes. I’m embarrassed and its long overdue.
Potatoes are native to South America and there are thousands of varieties today. They are a relative to tomatoes and eggplants. Potatoes are America’s most popular vegetable and the fourth largest food crop grown globally. Potatoes are a very good source of vitamin C, low in sodium and a good source of vitamin B6, copper, potassium, manganese, and dietary fiber. Potatoes are also a great source of the antioxidants.
There are four basic types of potatoes we eat here in the United States: russet, long white, round white and round red.
The russet, or Idaho or baking potato has rough, brown skin. They are long and slightly rounded in shape. They have a low moisture and high starch content. They are excellent baking potatoes and used to make French Fries. Three-quarters of potatoes planted are russets.
Long, white potatoes are similarly shaped to the russet but their skin is thinner and grayish-brown. They are best served baked, boiled or fried. Baby long, whites are called fingerlings.
Round, white potatoes have a low starch and high moisture content making them
excellent boiling potatoes. Their skin is more waxy than russets and are the same grayish-brown as long, whites. They roast really well and also make good mashed potatoes.
Some random potato tips and facts:
- Yukon gold potatoes make the best mashed potatoes (in my opinion) with their high moisture content and almost buttery taste.
- Adding a peeled, raw potato to an oversalted dish can help absorb some of the salt.
- New potatoes are young potatoes and can refer to any variety.
- Neither yams nor sweet potatoes are related botanically to potatoes.
- In the United States, Michigan is the largest producer of potatoes used for potato chips. Three quarters of Michigan’s potato crop is used to make potato chips.
- Frito Lay has added a feature to their website where consumers can track where their bag was grown. With a bag in hand, visit their Chip Tracker to see where your bag came from.
And many ask what type of potatoes you eat at the Munger Potato Festival and what type of potato high jinks ensue. Sadly, the amount of potatoes served in very limited in type and no games of hot potato are played. But for me it is a time to spend with great friends, laugh and forget about anything but potatoes for a few days.