Potato

Potato

Overview
The potato is a starch
Starch
Starch or amylum is a carbohydrate consisting of a large number of glucose units joined together by glycosidic bonds. This polysaccharide is produced by all green plants as an energy store...

y, tuber
Tuber
Tubers are various types of modified plant structures that are enlarged to store nutrients. They are used by plants to survive the winter or dry months and provide energy and nutrients for regrowth during the next growing season and they are a means of asexual reproduction...

ous crop
Crop (agriculture)
A crop is a non-animal species or variety that is grown to be harvested as food, livestock fodder, fuel or for any other economic purpose. Major world crops include maize , wheat, rice, soybeans, hay, potatoes and cotton. While the term "crop" most commonly refers to plants, it can also include...

 from the perennial
Perennial plant
A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant that lives for more than two years. The term is often used to differentiate a plant from shorter lived annuals and biennials. The term is sometimes misused by commercial gardeners or horticulturalists to describe only herbaceous perennials...

 Solanum
Solanum
Solanum, the nightshades, horsenettles and relatives, is a large and diverse genus of annual and perennial plants. They grow as forbs, vines, subshrubs, shrubs, and small trees, and often have attractive fruit and flowers. Many formerly independent genera like Lycopersicon or Cyphomandra are...

 tuberosum
of the Solanaceae
Solanaceae
Solanaceae are a family of flowering plants that include a number of important agricultural crops as well as many toxic plants. The name of the family comes from the Latin Solanum "the nightshade plant", but the further etymology of that word is unclear...

 family (also known as the nightshades). The word potato may refer to the plant itself as well as the edible tuber. In the region of the Andes
Andes
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

, there are some other closely related cultivated potato species. Potatoes were first introduced outside the Andes region four centuries ago, and have become an integral part of much of the world's cuisine.
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Encyclopedia
The potato is a starch
Starch
Starch or amylum is a carbohydrate consisting of a large number of glucose units joined together by glycosidic bonds. This polysaccharide is produced by all green plants as an energy store...

y, tuber
Tuber
Tubers are various types of modified plant structures that are enlarged to store nutrients. They are used by plants to survive the winter or dry months and provide energy and nutrients for regrowth during the next growing season and they are a means of asexual reproduction...

ous crop
Crop (agriculture)
A crop is a non-animal species or variety that is grown to be harvested as food, livestock fodder, fuel or for any other economic purpose. Major world crops include maize , wheat, rice, soybeans, hay, potatoes and cotton. While the term "crop" most commonly refers to plants, it can also include...

 from the perennial
Perennial plant
A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant that lives for more than two years. The term is often used to differentiate a plant from shorter lived annuals and biennials. The term is sometimes misused by commercial gardeners or horticulturalists to describe only herbaceous perennials...

 Solanum
Solanum
Solanum, the nightshades, horsenettles and relatives, is a large and diverse genus of annual and perennial plants. They grow as forbs, vines, subshrubs, shrubs, and small trees, and often have attractive fruit and flowers. Many formerly independent genera like Lycopersicon or Cyphomandra are...

 tuberosum
of the Solanaceae
Solanaceae
Solanaceae are a family of flowering plants that include a number of important agricultural crops as well as many toxic plants. The name of the family comes from the Latin Solanum "the nightshade plant", but the further etymology of that word is unclear...

 family (also known as the nightshades). The word potato may refer to the plant itself as well as the edible tuber. In the region of the Andes
Andes
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

, there are some other closely related cultivated potato species. Potatoes were first introduced outside the Andes region four centuries ago, and have become an integral part of much of the world's cuisine. It is the world's fourth-largest food crop, following rice
Rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

, wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

, and maize
Maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

. Long-term storage of potatoes requires specialised care in cold warehouses.

Wild potato species occur throughout the Americas, from the United States to Uruguay
Uruguay
Uruguay ,officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay,sometimes the Eastern Republic of Uruguay; ) is a country in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area...

. The potato was originally believed to have been domesticated independently in multiple locations, but later genetic testing of the wide variety of cultivar
Cultivar
A cultivar'Cultivar has two meanings as explained under Formal definition. When used in reference to a taxon, the word does not apply to an individual plant but to all those plants sharing the unique characteristics that define the cultivar. is a plant or group of plants selected for desirable...

s and wild species proved a single origin
Indigenous (ecology)
In biogeography, a species is defined as native to a given region or ecosystem if its presence in that region is the result of only natural processes, with no human intervention. Every natural organism has its own natural range of distribution in which it is regarded as native...

 for potatoes in the area of present-day southern Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

 (from a species in the Solanum brevicaule
Solanum brevicaule
Solanum brevicaule is a tuberous perennial of the Solanaceae family. The species is native to South America . It is related to the potato, but unlike the potato which is tetraploid, it has several levels of ploidy: diploid, tetraploid, and hexaploid.This species gives its name to the "Solanum...

complex), where they were domesticated 7,000–10,000 years ago. Following centuries of selective breeding
Selective breeding
Selective breeding is the process of breeding plants and animals for particular genetic traits. Typically, strains that are selectively bred are domesticated, and the breeding is sometimes done by a professional breeder. Bred animals are known as breeds, while bred plants are known as varieties,...

, there are now over a thousand different types of potatoes. Of these subspecies
Subspecies
Subspecies in biological classification, is either a taxonomic rank subordinate to species, ora taxonomic unit in that rank . A subspecies cannot be recognized in isolation: a species will either be recognized as having no subspecies at all or two or more, never just one...

, a variety that at one point grew in the Chiloé Archipelago
Chiloé Archipelago
Chiloé Archipelago consists of several islands lying off the coast of Chile. It is separated from mainland Chile by Chacao Channel in the north, the Sea of Chiloé in the east and Gulf of Corcovado to the southeast. All of the archipelago except Desertores Islands, which are part of Palena...

 (the potato's south-central Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

an sub-center of origin
Potatoes of Chiloé
thumb|175px|A selection of Chiloé's ~400 native varieties of potatoes.thumb|Guadachos varietythumb|Michuñe Blanca varietythumb|Michuñe Roja variety...

) left its germplasm
Germplasm
A germplasm is a collection of genetic resources for an organism. For plants, the germplasm may be stored as a seed collection or, for trees, in a nursery.-See also:*Germ plasm, the germ cell determining zone...

 on over 99% of the cultivated potatoes worldwide.

Following the Spanish conquest
Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire
The Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire was one of the most important campaigns in the Spanish colonization of the Americas. This historic process of military conquest was made by Spanish conquistadores and their native allies....

 of the Inca Empire
Inca Empire
The Inca Empire, or Inka Empire , was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. The administrative, political and military center of the empire was located in Cusco in modern-day Peru. The Inca civilization arose from the highlands of Peru sometime in the early 13th century...

, the Spanish introduced the potato to Europe in the second half of the 16th century. The staple was subsequently conveyed by European mariners to territories and ports throughout the world. The potato was slow to be adopted by distrustful European farmers, but soon enough it became an important food staple and field crop that played a major role in the European 19th century population boom. However, lack of genetic diversity, due to the very limited number of varieties initially introduced, left the crop vulnerable to disease. In 1845, a plant disease known as late blight, caused by the fungus-like oomycete Phytophthora infestans
Phytophthora infestans
Phytophthora infestans is an oomycete that causes the serious potato disease known as late blight or potato blight. . Late blight was a major culprit in the 1840s European, the 1845 Irish and 1846 Highland potato famines...

, spread rapidly through the poorer communities of western Ireland, resulting in the crop failures that led to the Great Irish Famine. Nonetheless, thousands of varieties persist in the Andes, where over 100 cultivars might be found in a single valley, and a dozen or more might be maintained by a single agricultural household.

The annual diet of an average global citizen in the first decade of the 21st century included about 33 kg (72.8 lb) of potato. However, the local importance of potato is extremely variable and rapidly changing. It remains an essential crop in Europe (especially eastern and central Europe), where per capita production is still the highest in the world, but the most rapid expansion over the past few decades has occurred in southern and eastern Asia. China is now the world's largest potato-producing country, and nearly a third of the world's potatoes are harvested in China and India.

Etymology



The English word potato comes from Spanish patata (the name used in Spain). The Spanish Royal Academy says the Spanish word is a compound of the Taino
Taíno language
Taíno, an Arawakan language, was the principal language of the Caribbean islands at the time of the Spanish Conquest, including the Bahamas, Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the Florida Keys, and the Lesser Antilles...

 batata (sweet potato
Sweet potato
The sweet potato is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the family Convolvulaceae. Its large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots are an important root vegetable. The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens. Of the approximately 50 genera and more than 1,000 species of...

) and the Quechua
Quechua languages
Quechua is a Native South American language family and dialect cluster spoken primarily in the Andes of South America, derived from an original common ancestor language, Proto-Quechua. It is the most widely spoken language family of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, with a total of probably...

 papa (potato). The name potato originally referred to a type of sweet potato rather than the other way around, although there is actually no close relationship between the two plants. The English confused the two plants one for the other. In many of the chronicles detailing agriculture and plants, no distinction is made between the two. The 16th-century English herbalist John Gerard
John Gerard
John Gerard aka John Gerarde was an English herbalist notable for his herbal garden and botany writing. In 1597 he published a large and heavily illustrated "Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes", which went on to be the most widely circulated botany book in English in the 17th century...

 used the terms "bastard potatoes" and "Virginia potatoes" for this species, and referred to sweet potatoes as "common potatoes". Potatoes are occasionally referred to as "Irish potatoes" or "white potatoes" in the United States, to distinguish them from sweet potato
Sweet potato
The sweet potato is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the family Convolvulaceae. Its large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots are an important root vegetable. The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens. Of the approximately 50 genera and more than 1,000 species of...

es.

The name spud for a small potato comes from the digging of soil (or a hole) prior to the planting of potatoes. The word has an unknown origin and was originally (c. 1440) used as a term for a short knife or dagger, probably related to Dutch spyd and/or the Latin "spad-" root meaning "sword"; cf. Spanish "espada", English "spade" and "spadroon". The word spud traces back to the 16th century. It subsequently transferred over to a variety of digging tools. Around 1845 it transferred over to the tuber itself. The origin of "spud" has erroneously been attributed to a 19th century activist group dedicated to keeping the potato out of Britain
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

, calling itself The Society for the Prevention of an Unwholesome Diet. It was Mario Pei
Mario Pei
Mario Andrew Pei was an Italian-American linguist and polyglot, who wrote a number of popular books known for their accessibility to readers who lack a professional background in linguistics.-Life:...

's 1949 The Story of Language that can be blamed for the false origin
False etymology
Folk etymology is change in a word or phrase over time resulting from the replacement of an unfamiliar form by a more familiar one. Unanalyzable borrowings from foreign languages, like asparagus, or old compounds such as samblind which have lost their iconic motivation are...

. Pei writes, "the potato, for its part, was in disrepute some centuries ago. Some Englishmen who did not fancy potatoes formed a Society for the Prevention of Unwholesome Diet. The initials of the main words in this title gave rise to spud." Like most other pre-20th century acronymic origins, this one is false.

Characteristics



Potato plants are herbaceous perennials that grow about 60 cm (24 in) high, depending on variety, the culms dying back after flowering. They bear white, pink, red, blue, or purple flower
Flower
A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants . The biological function of a flower is to effect reproduction, usually by providing a mechanism for the union of sperm with eggs...

s with yellow stamen
Stamen
The stamen is the pollen producing reproductive organ of a flower...

s. In general, the tubers of varieties with white flowers have white skins, while those of varieties with colored flowers tend to have pinkish skins. Potatoes are cross-pollinated
Pollination
Pollination is the process by which pollen is transferred in plants, thereby enabling fertilisation and sexual reproduction. Pollen grains transport the male gametes to where the female gamete are contained within the carpel; in gymnosperms the pollen is directly applied to the ovule itself...

 mostly by insects, including bumblebee
Bumblebee
A bumble bee is any member of the bee genus Bombus, in the family Apidae. There are over 250 known species, existing primarily in the Northern Hemisphere although they are common in New Zealand and in the Australian state of Tasmania.Bumble bees are social insects that are characterised by black...

s, which carry pollen from other potato plants, but a substantial amount of self-fertilizing occurs as well. Tubers form in response to decreasing day length, although this tendency has been minimized in commercial varieties.

After potato plants flower, some varieties produce small green fruits that resemble green cherry tomato
Cherry tomato
A cherry tomato is a small variety of tomato that has been cultivated since at least the early 1800s and thought to have originated in Peru and Northern Chile. Cherry tomatoes range in size from a thumbtip up to the size of a golf ball, and can range from being spherical to slightly oblong in shape...

es, each containing up to 300 true seed
Seed
A seed is a small embryonic plant enclosed in a covering called the seed coat, usually with some stored food. It is the product of the ripened ovule of gymnosperm and angiosperm plants which occurs after fertilization and some growth within the mother plant...

s. Potato fruit contains large amounts of the toxic alkaloid
Alkaloid
Alkaloids are a group of naturally occurring chemical compounds that contain mostly basic nitrogen atoms. This group also includes some related compounds with neutral and even weakly acidic properties. Also some synthetic compounds of similar structure are attributed to alkaloids...

 solanine
Solanine
Solanine is a glycoalkaloid poison found in species of the nightshade family , such as the potato . It can occur naturally in any part of the plant, including the leaves, fruit, and tubers. Solanine has fungicidal and pesticidal properties, and it is one of the plant's natural defenses...

 and is therefore unsuitable for consumption. All new potato varieties are grown from seeds, also called "true seed" or "botanical seed" to distinguish it from seed tubers. By finely chopping the fruit and soaking it in water, the seeds separate from the flesh by sinking to the bottom after about a day (the remnants of the fruit float). Any potato variety can also be propagated vegetatively by planting tubers, pieces of tubers, cut to include at least one or two eyes, or also by cuttings, a practice used in greenhouses for the production of healthy seed tubers. Some commercial potato varieties do not produce seeds at all (they bear imperfect flowers) and are propagated only from tuber pieces. Confusingly, these tubers or tuber pieces are called "seed potatoes".

Genetics


There are about five thousand potato varieties worldwide. Three thousand of them are found in the Andes alone, mainly in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, and Colombia. They belong to eight or nine species, depending on the taxonomic school. Apart from the five thousand cultivated varieties, there are about 200 wild species and subspecies, many of which can be cross-bred with cultivated varieties, which has been done repeatedly to transfer resistances to certain pests and diseases from the gene pool of wild species to the gene pool of cultivated potato species. Genetically modified
Genetically modified food
Genetically modified foods are foods derived from genetically modified organisms . Genetically modified organisms have had specific changes introduced into their DNA by genetic engineering techniques...

 varieties have met public resistance in the United States and in the European Union.

The major species grown worldwide is Solanum tuberosum (a tetraploid with 48 chromosome
Chromosome
A chromosome is an organized structure of DNA and protein found in cells. It is a single piece of coiled DNA containing many genes, regulatory elements and other nucleotide sequences. Chromosomes also contain DNA-bound proteins, which serve to package the DNA and control its functions.Chromosomes...

s), and modern varieties of this species are the most widely cultivated. There are also four diploid species (with 24 chromosomes): S. stenotomum, S. phureja, S. goniocalyx, and S. ajanhuiri. There are two triploid species (with 36 chromosomes): S. chaucha and S. juzepczukii. There is one pentaploid cultivated species (with 60 chromosomes): S. curtilobum. There are two major subspecies of Solanum tuberosum: andigena, or Andean; and tuberosum, or Chilean. The Andean potato is adapted to the short-day conditions prevalent in the mountainous equatorial and tropical regions where it originated. The Chilean potato, native to the Chiloé Archipelago
Chiloé Archipelago
Chiloé Archipelago consists of several islands lying off the coast of Chile. It is separated from mainland Chile by Chacao Channel in the north, the Sea of Chiloé in the east and Gulf of Corcovado to the southeast. All of the archipelago except Desertores Islands, which are part of Palena...

, is adapted to the long-day conditions prevalent in the higher latitude region of southern Chile.

The International Potato Center
International Potato Center
The International Potato Center is a root and tuber research-for-development institution located in Lima, Peru...

, based in Lima, Peru, holds an ISO
International Organization for Standardization
The International Organization for Standardization , widely known as ISO, is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organizations. Founded on February 23, 1947, the organization promulgates worldwide proprietary, industrial and commercial...

-accredited collection of potato germplasm
Germplasm
A germplasm is a collection of genetic resources for an organism. For plants, the germplasm may be stored as a seed collection or, for trees, in a nursery.-See also:*Germ plasm, the germ cell determining zone...

. The international Potato Genome Sequencing Consortium announced in 2009 that they had achieved a draft sequence of the potato genome. The potato genome contains 12 chromosomes and 860 million base pairs making it a medium-sized plant genome. Above 99 percent of all current varieties of potatoes currently grown are direct descendants of a subspecies that once grew in the lowland
Lowland
In physical geography, a lowland is any broad expanse of land with a general low level. The term is thus applied to the landward portion of the upward slope from oceanic depths to continental highlands, to a region of depression in the interior of a mountainous region, to a plain of denudation, or...

s of south-central Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

. Nonetheless, genetic testing of the wide variety of cultivar
Cultivar
A cultivar'Cultivar has two meanings as explained under Formal definition. When used in reference to a taxon, the word does not apply to an individual plant but to all those plants sharing the unique characteristics that define the cultivar. is a plant or group of plants selected for desirable...

s and wild species affirms that all potato subspecies derive from a single origin
Indigenous (ecology)
In biogeography, a species is defined as native to a given region or ecosystem if its presence in that region is the result of only natural processes, with no human intervention. Every natural organism has its own natural range of distribution in which it is regarded as native...

 in the area of present-day southern Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

 (from a species in the Solanum brevicaule complex).

Most modern potatoes grown in North America arrived through European settlement and not independently from the South American sources. However, at least one wild potato species, Solanum fendleri, is found as far north as Texas and used in breeding for resistance to a nematode
Nematode
The nematodes or roundworms are the most diverse phylum of pseudocoelomates, and one of the most diverse of all animals. Nematode species are very difficult to distinguish; over 28,000 have been described, of which over 16,000 are parasitic. It has been estimated that the total number of nematode...

 species that attacks cultivated potatoes. A secondary center of genetic variability of the potato is Mexico, where important wild species that have been used extensively in modern breeding are found, such as the hexaploid Solanum demissum, as a source of resistance to the devastating late blight disease. Another relative native to this region, Solanum bulbocastanum
Solanum bulbocastanum
Solanum bulbocastanum is a plant in the Solanaceae family, native to Mexico and parts of the U.S. Southwest. It is closely related to the potato and, as it has evolved strong resistance to all known varieties of potato blight, has been used to genetically engineer resistance into the cultivated...

, has been used to genetically engineer the potato to resist potato blight.

Potatoes yield abundantly with little effort, and adapt readily to diverse climates as long as the climate is cool and moist enough for the plants to gather sufficient water from the soil to form the starchy tubers. Potatoes do not keep very well in storage and are vulnerable to molds that feed on the stored tubers, quickly turning them rotten. By contrast, grain can be stored for several years without much risk of rotting.

Peru



The potato originated in the region of southern Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

. Potatoes were first domesticated in Peru between 8000 BC and 5000 BC. In the Altiplano
Altiplano
The Altiplano , in west-central South America, where the Andes are at their widest, is the most extensive area of high plateau on Earth outside of Tibet...

, potatoes provided the principal energy source for the Inca Empire
Inca Empire
The Inca Empire, or Inka Empire , was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. The administrative, political and military center of the empire was located in Cusco in modern-day Peru. The Inca civilization arose from the highlands of Peru sometime in the early 13th century...

, its predecessors, and its Spanish successor. In Peru above 10,000 feet altitude, tubers exposed to the cold night air turned into chuño
Chuño
Chuño is a freeze-dried potato product traditionally made by Quechua and Aymara communities of Bolivia and Peru, and is known in various countries of South America, including Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru...

; when kept in permanently frozen underground storehouses, chuño can be stored for years with no loss of nutritional value. The Spanish fed chuño to the silver miners who produced vast wealth in the 16th century for the Spanish government.

Europe


Sailors returning from Peru to Spain with silver presumably brought maize and potatoes for their own food on the trip. Historians speculate that leftover tubers (and maize) were carried ashore and planted: "We think that the potato arrived some years before the end of the 16th century, by two different ports of entry: the first, logically, in Spain around 1570, and the second via the British isles between 1588 and 1593 ... we find traces of the transport of potatoes travelling from the Canaries
Canary Islands
The Canary Islands , also known as the Canaries , is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The Canaries are a Spanish autonomous community and an outermost region of the European Union...

 to Antwerp in 1567 ... we can say that the potato was introduced there [the Canary islands] from South America around 1562 ... the first written mention of the potato [is] ... a receipt for delivery dated 28 november 1567 between Las Palmas in the Grand Canaries and Antwerp." Basque fishermen from Spain used potatoes as ships' stores for their voyages across the Atlantic in the 16th century, and introduced the tuber to western Ireland, where they landed to dry their cod. In 1553, in the book Crónica del Peru, Pedro Cieza de Leon
Pedro Cieza de León
Pedro Cieza de León was a Spanish conquistador and chronicler of Peru. He is known primarily for his history and description of Peru, Crónicas del Perú...

 mentions he saw it in Quito
Quito
San Francisco de Quito, most often called Quito , is the capital city of Ecuador in northwestern South America. It is located in north-central Ecuador in the Guayllabamba river basin, on the eastern slopes of Pichincha, an active stratovolcano in the Andes mountains...

, Popayán
Popayán
Popayán is the capital of the Colombian department of Cauca. It is located in southwestern Colombia between Colombia's Western Mountain Range and Central Mountain Range...

, and Pasto
Pasto
Pasto, officially San Juan de Pasto, is the capital of the department of Nariño, located in southwest Colombia. The city is located in the "Atriz Valley", on the Andes cordillera, at the foot of the Galeras volcano, at an altitude of 8,290 feet above sea level...

 in 1538. The English privateer Francis Drake
Francis Drake
Sir Francis Drake, Vice Admiral was an English sea captain, privateer, navigator, slaver, and politician of the Elizabethan era. Elizabeth I of England awarded Drake a knighthood in 1581. He was second-in-command of the English fleet against the Spanish Armada in 1588. He also carried out the...

, returning from his circumnavigation, or Sir Walter Raleigh's employee Thomas Harriot
Thomas Harriot
Thomas Harriot was an English astronomer, mathematician, ethnographer, and translator. Some sources give his surname as Harriott or Hariot or Heriot. He is sometimes credited with the introduction of the potato to Great Britain and Ireland...

 are commonly credited with introducing potatoes into England. In 1588, botanist Carolus Clusius made a painting of what he called "Papas Peruanorum" from a specimen in the Low Countries; in 1601 he reported that potatoes were in common use in northern Italy for animal fodder and for human consumption.

The Spanish had an empire across Europe, and brought potatoes for their armies. Peasants along the way adopted the crop, which was less often pillaged by marauding armies than above-ground stores of grain. Across most of northern Europe, where open fields prevailed, potatoes were strictly confined to small garden plots because field agriculture was strictly governed by custom that prescribed seasonal rhythms for plowing, sowing, harvesting and grazing animals on fallow and stubble. This meant that potatoes were barred from large-scale cultivation because the rules allowed only grain to be planted in the open fields. In France and Germany government officials and noble landowners promoted the rapid conversion of fallow land into potato fields after 1750. The potato thus became an important staple crop in northern Europe. Famines in the early 1770s contributed to its acceptance, as did government policies in several European countries and climate change during the Little Ice Age
Little Ice Age
The Little Ice Age was a period of cooling that occurred after the Medieval Warm Period . While not a true ice age, the term was introduced into the scientific literature by François E. Matthes in 1939...

, when traditional crops in this region did not produce as reliably as before. At times when and where most other crops failed, potatoes could still typically be relied upon to contribute adequately to food supplies during colder years.

In France, at the end of the 16th century, the potato had been introduced to the Franche-Comté, the Vosges of Lorraine and Alsace. By the end of the 18th century it was written in the 1785 edition of Bon Jardinier: "There is no vegetable about which so much has been written and so much enthusiasm has been shown ... The poor should be quite content with this foodstuff." It had widely replaced the turnip
Turnip
The turnip or white turnip is a root vegetable commonly grown in temperate climates worldwide for its white, bulbous taproot. Small, tender varieties are grown for human consumption, while larger varieties are grown as feed for livestock...

 and rutabaga
Rutabaga
The rutabaga, swede , turnip or yellow turnip is a root vegetable that originated as a cross between the cabbage and the turnip; see Triangle of U...

 by the 19th century.

19th century Europe


French physician Antoine Parmentier
Antoine-Augustin Parmentier
Antoine-Augustin Parmentier is remembered as a vocal promoter of the potato as a food source in France and throughout Europe...

 studied the potato intensely and in Examen chymique des pommes de terres (Paris, 1774) showed their enormous nutritional value. King Louis XVI and his court eagerly promoted the new crop, with Queen Marie Antoinette
Marie Antoinette
Marie Antoinette ; 2 November 1755 – 16 October 1793) was an Archduchess of Austria and the Queen of France and of Navarre. She was the fifteenth and penultimate child of Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa and Holy Roman Emperor Francis I....

 even wearing a headdress of potato flowers at a fancy dress ball. The annual potato crop of France soared to 21 million hectoliters in 1815 and 117 million in 1840, allowing a concomitant growth in population while avoiding the Malthusian trap
Malthusian catastrophe
A Malthusian catastrophe was originally foreseen to be a forced return to subsistence-level conditions once population growth had outpaced agricultural production...

. Although potatoes had become widely familiar in Russia by 1800, they were confined to garden plots until the grain failure in 1838–1839 persuaded peasants and landlords in central and northern Russia to devote their fallow fields to raising potatoes. Potatoes yielded from two to four times more calories per acre than grain did, and eventually came to dominate the food supply in eastern Europe. Boiled or baked potatoes were cheaper than rye bread, just as nutritious, and did not require a gristmill for grinding. On the other hand cash-oriented landlords realized that grain was much easier to ship, store and sell, so both grain and potatoes coexisted.
Throughout Europe, the most important new food in the 19th century was the potato, which had three major advantages over other foods for the consumer: its lower rate of spoilage, its bulk (which easily satisfied hunger), and its cheapness. The crop slowly spread across Europe, such that, for example, by 1845 it occupied one-third of Irish arable land. Potatoes comprised about 10% of the caloric intake of Europeans. Along with several other foods that either originated in the Americas or were successfully grown or harvested there, potatoes sustained European populations.

In Britain, the potato promoted economic development by underpinning the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

 in the 19th century. It served as a cheap source of calories and nutrients that was easy for urban workers to cultivate on small backyard plots. Potatoes became popular in the north of England, where coal was readily available, so a potato-driven population boom provided ample workers for the new factories. Marxist Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels was a German industrialist, social scientist, author, political theorist, philosopher, and father of Marxist theory, alongside Karl Marx. In 1845 he published The Condition of the Working Class in England, based on personal observations and research...

 even declared that the potato was the equal of iron for its "historically revolutionary role. The Dutch potato-starch industry grew rapidly in the 19th century, especially under the leadership of entrepreneur Willem Albert Scholten (1819–92).

Ireland


In Ireland, the expansion of potato cultivation was due entirely to the landless laborers, renting tiny plots from landowners, who were interested only in raising cattle or in producing grain for market. A single acre of potatoes and the milk of a single cow was enough to feed a whole Irish family a monotonous but nutritionally adequate diet for a healthy, vigorous (and desperately poor) rural population. Often even poor families grew enough extra potatoes to feed a pig that they could sell for cash.

A lack of genetic diversity from the low number of varieties left the crop vulnerable to disease. In 1845, a plant disease known as late blight, caused by the fungus-like oomycete Phytophthora infestans
Phytophthora infestans
Phytophthora infestans is an oomycete that causes the serious potato disease known as late blight or potato blight. . Late blight was a major culprit in the 1840s European, the 1845 Irish and 1846 Highland potato famines...

, spread rapidly through the poorer communities of western Ireland, resulting in the crop failures that led to the Great Irish Famine.

The Lumper potato, widely cultivated in western and southern Ireland before and during the great famine, was bland, wet, and poorly resistant to the potato blight, but yielded large crops and usually provided adequate calories for peasants and laborers. Heavy dependence on this potato led to disaster when the potato blight quickly turned newly harvested potatoes into a putrid mush. The Irish Famine in the western and southern parts of the British-controlled island of Ireland, 1845–49, was a catastrophic failure in the food supply that led to approximately a million deaths from famine and (especially) diseases that attacked weakened bodies, and to massive emigration to Britain, the U.S., Canada and elsewhere.

Africa


It is generally believed that potatoes entered Africa with colonists, who consumed them as a vegetable rather than as a staple starch. Shipping records from 1567 show that the first place outside of Central and South America where potatoes were grown were the Canary Islands
Canary Islands
The Canary Islands , also known as the Canaries , is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The Canaries are a Spanish autonomous community and an outermost region of the European Union...

. As in other continents, despite its advantages as an anti-famine, high-elevation alternative to grain, potatoes were first resisted by local farmers who believed they were poisonous. Colonialists also promoted them as a low cost food and so it was a symbol of domination. In former European colonies of Africa, potatoes were initially consumed only occasionally, but increased production made them a staple in certain areas. Potatoes tended to become more popular in wartime due to them being able to be stored in the ground. In present day Africa they have become a vegetable or co-staple crop.

Rwanda


In higher regions of Rwanda, potatoes have become a new staple food crop. Prior to the 1994 Rwandan genocide
Rwandan Genocide
The Rwandan Genocide was the 1994 mass murder of an estimated 800,000 people in the small East African nation of Rwanda. Over the course of approximately 100 days through mid-July, over 500,000 people were killed, according to a Human Rights Watch estimate...

 consumption was as high as 153 to 200 kg per year — higher than in any Western European country. Recently farmers have developed the potato as a cash crop after introducing several new varieties brought back by migrant laborers from Uganda and other varieties from Kenya.

Asia


The potato diffused widely after 1600, becoming a major food resource in Europe and East Asia. Following its introduction into China toward the end of the Ming dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

, the potato immediately became a delicacy of the imperial family. After the middle period of the Qianlong reign (1735–96), population increases and a subsequent need to increase grain yields coupled with greater peasant geographic mobility led to the rapid spread of potato cultivation throughout China, and it was acclimated to local natural conditions.

Boomgaard (2003) looks at the adoption of various root and tuber crops in Indonesia throughout the colonial period and examines the chronology and reasons for progressive adoption of foreign crops: sweet potato
Sweet potato
The sweet potato is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the family Convolvulaceae. Its large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots are an important root vegetable. The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens. Of the approximately 50 genera and more than 1,000 species of...

, Irish potato, bengkuang (yam beans)
Jícama
Pachyrhizus erosus, commonly known as Jícama , Yam, and Mexican Turnip, is the name of a native Mexican vine, although the name most commonly refers to the plant's edible tuberous root. Jícama is one species in the genus Pachyrhizus. Plants in this genus are commonly referred to as yam bean,...

, and cassava
Cassava
Cassava , also called yuca or manioc, a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae native to South America, is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates...

.

The potato was introduced in the Philippines during the late 16th century, and to Java
Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

 and China during the 17th century. It was well established as a crop in India by the late 18th century and in Africa by the mid-20th century.

US and Canada



Potatoes were planted in Idaho as early as 1838; by 1900 the state's production exceeded a million bushel
Bushel
A bushel is an imperial and U.S. customary unit of dry volume, equivalent in each of these systems to 4 pecks or 8 gallons. It is used for volumes of dry commodities , most often in agriculture...

s (about 27,000 tonnes). Prior to 1910, the crops were stored in barns or root cellars, but, by the 1920s, potato cellars came into use. U.S. potato production has increased steadily; two-thirds of the crop comes from Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Maine, and potato growers have strengthened their position in both domestic and foreign markets.

By the 1960s, the Canadian Potato Research Centre in Fredericton, New Brunswick, was one of the top six potato research institutes in the world. Established in 1912 as a dominion experimental station, the station began in the 1930s to concentrate on breeding new varieties of disease-resistant potatoes. In the 1950s–1960s, the growth of the French fry industry in New Brunswick led to a focus on developing varieties for the industry. By the 1970s, the station's potato research was broader than ever before, but the station and its research programs had changed, as emphasis was placed on serving industry rather than potato farmers in general. Scientists at the station even began describing their work using engineering language rather than scientific prose. Potatoes are Canada's most important vegetable crop; they are grown commercially in all its provinces, led by Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island is a Canadian province consisting of an island of the same name, as well as other islands. The maritime province is the smallest in the nation in both land area and population...

.

Role in world food supply


The United Nations FAO
Fão
Fão is a town in Esposende Municipality in Portugal....

 reports that the world production of potatoes in 2009 was 330 million tonnes. Just over two thirds of the global production is eaten directly by humans with the rest being fed to animals or used to produce starch. This means that the annual diet of an average global citizen in the first decade of the 21st century included about 33 kg (or 73 lb) of potato. However, the local importance of potato is extremely variable and rapidly changing. It remains an essential crop in Europe (especially eastern and central Europe), where per capita production is still the highest in the world, but the most rapid expansion over the past few decades has occurred in southern and eastern Asia. China is now the world's largest potato-producing country, and nearly a third of the world's potatoes are harvested in China and India. The geographic shift of potato production has been away from wealthier countries toward lower-income areas of the world, although the degree of this trend is ambiguous.

In 2008, several international organizations highlighted the potato's role in world food production, in the face of developing economic problems. They cited its potential derived from its status as a cheap and plentiful crop that grows in a wide variety of climates and locales. Due to perishability, only about 5% of the world's potato crop is traded internationally; its minimal presence in world financial markets contributed to its stable pricing during the 2007–2008 world food price crisis
2007–2008 world food price crisis
World food prices increased dramatically in 2007 and the 1st and 2nd quarter of 2008 creating a global crisis and causing political and economical instability and social unrest in both poor and developed nations. Systemic causes for the worldwide increases in food prices continue to be the subject...

. Thus, the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 officially declared 2008 as the International Year of the Potato
International Year of the Potato
The year 2008 was declared the International Year of the Potato by the United Nations, noting that the potato is a staple food in the diet of the world’s population, and affirming the need to focus world attention on the role that the potato can play in providing food security and eradicating poverty...

, to raise its profile in developing nations, calling the crop a "hidden treasure". This followed the International Rice
Rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

 Year in 2004.

Nutrition


The potato contains vitamin
Vitamin
A vitamin is an organic compound required as a nutrient in tiny amounts by an organism. In other words, an organic chemical compound is called a vitamin when it cannot be synthesized in sufficient quantities by an organism, and must be obtained from the diet. Thus, the term is conditional both on...

s and minerals
Dietary mineral
Dietary minerals are the chemical elements required by living organisms, other than the four elements carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen present in common organic molecules. Examples of mineral elements include calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, zinc, and iodine...

, as well as an assortment of phytochemical
Phytochemical
Phytochemicals are biologically active chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants . Phytochemicals are the molecules responsible for the color and organoleptic properties . For example, the deep purple color of blueberries and the smell of garlic...

s, such as carotenoid
Carotenoid
Carotenoids are tetraterpenoid organic pigments that are naturally occurring in the chloroplasts and chromoplasts of plants and some other photosynthetic organisms like algae, some bacteria, and some types of fungus. Carotenoids can be synthesized fats and other basic organic metabolic building...

s and natural phenols. Chlorogenic acid
Chlorogenic acid
Chlorogenic acid is a hydroxycinnamic acid, a member of a family of naturally occurring organic compounds. These are esters of polyphenolic caffeic acid and cyclitol -quinic acid. It is an important biosynthetic intermediate. It also is one of the phenols found in coffee, bamboo Phyllostachys...

 constitutes up to 90% of the potato tuber natural phenols. Others found in potatoes are 4-O-caffeoylquinic acid (crypto-chlorogenic acid), 5-O-caffeoylquinic (neo-chlorogenic acid), 3,4-dicaffeoylquinic and 3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acids. A medium-size 150 g (5.3 oz) potato with the skin provides 27 mg of vitamin C
Vitamin C
Vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid or L-ascorbate is an essential nutrient for humans and certain other animal species. In living organisms ascorbate acts as an antioxidant by protecting the body against oxidative stress...

 (45% of the Daily Value (DV)), 620 mg of potassium
Potassium
Potassium is the chemical element with the symbol K and atomic number 19. Elemental potassium is a soft silvery-white alkali metal that oxidizes rapidly in air and is very reactive with water, generating sufficient heat to ignite the hydrogen emitted in the reaction.Potassium and sodium are...

 (18% of DV), 0.2 mg vitamin B6
Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin and is part of the vitamin B complex group. Several forms of the vitamin are known, but pyridoxal phosphate is the active form and is a cofactor in many reactions of amino acid metabolism, including transamination, deamination, and decarboxylation...

 (10% of DV) and trace amounts of thiamin, riboflavin
Riboflavin
Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2 or additive E101, is an easily absorbed micronutrient with a key role in maintaining health in humans and animals. It is the central component of the cofactors FAD and FMN, and is therefore required by all flavoproteins. As such, vitamin B2 is required for a...

, folate, niacin
Niacin
"Niacin" redirects here. For the neo-fusion band, see Niacin .Niacin is an organic compound with the formula and, depending on the definition used, one of the forty to eighty essential human nutrients.Niacin is one of five vitamins associated with a pandemic deficiency disease: niacin deficiency...

, magnesium
Magnesium
Magnesium is a chemical element with the symbol Mg, atomic number 12, and common oxidation number +2. It is an alkaline earth metal and the eighth most abundant element in the Earth's crust and ninth in the known universe as a whole...

, phosphorus
Phosphorus
Phosphorus is the chemical element that has the symbol P and atomic number 15. A multivalent nonmetal of the nitrogen group, phosphorus as a mineral is almost always present in its maximally oxidized state, as inorganic phosphate rocks...

, iron, and zinc. The fiber content of a potato with skin (2 g) is equivalent to that of many whole grain bread
Bread
Bread is a staple food prepared by cooking a dough of flour and water and often additional ingredients. Doughs are usually baked, but in some cuisines breads are steamed , fried , or baked on an unoiled frying pan . It may be leavened or unleavened...

s, pasta
Pasta
Pasta is a staple food of traditional Italian cuisine, now of worldwide renown. It takes the form of unleavened dough, made in Italy, mostly of durum wheat , water and sometimes eggs. Pasta comes in a variety of different shapes that serve for both decoration and to act as a carrier for the...

s, and cereal
Cereal
Cereals are grasses cultivated for the edible components of their grain , composed of the endosperm, germ, and bran...

s.

In terms of nutrition, the potato is best known for its carbohydrate
Carbohydrate
A carbohydrate is an organic compound with the empirical formula ; that is, consists only of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, with a hydrogen:oxygen atom ratio of 2:1 . However, there are exceptions to this. One common example would be deoxyribose, a component of DNA, which has the empirical...

 content (approximately 26 grams in a medium potato). The predominant form of this carbohydrate is starch
Starch
Starch or amylum is a carbohydrate consisting of a large number of glucose units joined together by glycosidic bonds. This polysaccharide is produced by all green plants as an energy store...

. A small but significant portion of this starch is resistant to digestion by enzyme
Enzyme
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process, called substrates, are converted into different molecules, called products. Almost all chemical reactions in a biological cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates...

s in the stomach
Stomach
The stomach is a muscular, hollow, dilated part of the alimentary canal which functions as an important organ of the digestive tract in some animals, including vertebrates, echinoderms, insects , and molluscs. It is involved in the second phase of digestion, following mastication .The stomach is...

 and small intestine
Small intestine
The small intestine is the part of the gastrointestinal tract following the stomach and followed by the large intestine, and is where much of the digestion and absorption of food takes place. In invertebrates such as worms, the terms "gastrointestinal tract" and "large intestine" are often used to...

, and so reaches the large intestine
Large intestine
The large intestine is the third-to-last part of the digestive system — — in vertebrate animals. Its function is to absorb water from the remaining indigestible food matter, and then to pass useless waste material from the body...

 essentially intact. This resistant starch
Resistant starch
Resistant starch is starch and starch degradation products that escape digestion in the small intestine of healthy individuals. Resistant starch is considered the third type of dietary fiber, as it can deliver some of the benefits of insoluble fiber and some of the benefits of soluble fiber.Some...

 is considered to have similar physiological effects and health benefits as fiber
Dietary fiber
Dietary fiber, dietary fibre, or sometimes roughage is the indigestible portion of plant foods having two main components:* soluble fiber that is readily fermented in the colon into gases and physiologically active byproducts, and* insoluble fiber that is metabolically inert, absorbing water as it...

: It provides bulk, offers protection against colon cancer, improves glucose
Glucose
Glucose is a simple sugar and an important carbohydrate in biology. Cells use it as the primary source of energy and a metabolic intermediate...

 tolerance and insulin sensitivity, lowers plasma cholesterol and triglyceride
Triglyceride
A triglyceride is an ester derived from glycerol and three fatty acids. There are many triglycerides, depending on the oil source, some are highly unsaturated, some less so....

 concentrations, increases satiety, and possibly even reduces fat storage. The amount of resistant starch in potatoes depends much on preparation methods. Cooking and then cooling potatoes significantly increases resistant starch. For example, cooked potato starch
Potato starch
Potato starch is starch extracted from potatoes. The cells of the root tubers of the potato plant contain starch grains . To extract the starch, the potatoes are crushed; the starch grains are released from the destroyed cells...

 contains about 7% resistant starch, which increases to about 13% upon cooling.

The cooking method used can significantly impact the nutrient availability of the potato.

Potatoes are often broadly classified as high on the glycemic index
Glycemic index
The glycemic index, glycaemic index, or GI is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion and release glucose rapidly into the bloodstream have a high GI; carbohydrates that break down more slowly, releasing glucose more...

 (GI) and so are often excluded from the diets of individuals trying to follow a low-GI diet. In fact, the GI of potatoes can vary considerably depending on type (such as red, russet, white, or Prince Edward), origin (where it was grown), preparation methods (i.e., cooking method, whether it is eaten hot or cold, whether it is mashed or cubed or consumed whole, etc.), and with what it is consumed (i.e., the addition of various high-fat or high-protein toppings).

Potatoes are not considered by the NHS
National Health Service
The National Health Service is the shared name of three of the four publicly funded healthcare systems in the United Kingdom. They provide a comprehensive range of health services, the vast majority of which are free at the point of use to residents of the United Kingdom...

 as counting towards the five portions of fruit and vegetables
5 A Day
5 A Day is the name of a number of programs in countries such as the USA, the United Kingdom and Germany, to encourage the consumption of at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day, following requests by the World Health Organization to consume at least 400g of vegetables daily.In...

 diet.

Toxicity



Potatoes contain toxic compounds known as glycoalkaloid
Glycoalkaloid
Glycoalkaloids are a family of poisons commonly found in the plant species Solanum dulcamara . There are several glycoalkaloids that are potentially toxic. A prototypical glycoalkaloid is called solanine , which is found in potato...

s, of which the most prevalent are solanine
Solanine
Solanine is a glycoalkaloid poison found in species of the nightshade family , such as the potato . It can occur naturally in any part of the plant, including the leaves, fruit, and tubers. Solanine has fungicidal and pesticidal properties, and it is one of the plant's natural defenses...

 and chaconine
Chaconine
α-Chaconine is a steroidal glycoalkaloid chemical compound that occurs in plants of the Solanaceae family. It is a natural toxicant produced in green potatoes and gives the potato a bitter taste. Tubers produce this glycoalkaloid in response to stress, providing the plant with insecticidal and...

. Solanine is also found in other plants in the family Solanaceae
Solanaceae
Solanaceae are a family of flowering plants that include a number of important agricultural crops as well as many toxic plants. The name of the family comes from the Latin Solanum "the nightshade plant", but the further etymology of that word is unclear...

, which includes such plants as the deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) and tobacco (Nicotiana
Nicotiana
Nicotiana is a genus of herbs and shrubs of the nightshade family indigenous to North and South America, Australia, south west Africa and the South Pacific. Various Nicotiana species, commonly referred to as tobacco plants, are cultivated and grown to produce tobacco. Of all Nicotiana species,...

) as well as the potato, eggplant, and tomato
Tomato
The word "tomato" may refer to the plant or the edible, typically red, fruit which it bears. Originating in South America, the tomato was spread around the world following the Spanish colonization of the Americas, and its many varieties are now widely grown, often in greenhouses in cooler...

. This toxin affects the nervous system, causing weakness and confusion.

These compounds, which protect the plant from its predators, are, in general, concentrated in its leaves, stems, sprouts, and fruits. Exposure to light, physical damage, and age increase glycoalkaloid content within the tuber; the highest concentrations occur just underneath the skin. Cooking at high temperatures (over 170 °C or 340 °F) partly destroys these. The concentration of glycoalkaloid in wild potatoes suffices to produce toxic effects in humans. Glycoalkaloids may cause headache
Headache
A headache or cephalalgia is pain anywhere in the region of the head or neck. It can be a symptom of a number of different conditions of the head and neck. The brain tissue itself is not sensitive to pain because it lacks pain receptors. Rather, the pain is caused by disturbance of the...

s, diarrhea
Diarrhea
Diarrhea , also spelled diarrhoea, is the condition of having three or more loose or liquid bowel movements per day. It is a common cause of death in developing countries and the second most common cause of infant deaths worldwide. The loss of fluids through diarrhea can cause dehydration and...

, cramps, and in severe cases coma
Coma
In medicine, a coma is a state of unconsciousness, lasting more than 6 hours in which a person cannot be awakened, fails to respond normally to painful stimuli, light or sound, lacks a normal sleep-wake cycle and does not initiate voluntary actions. A person in a state of coma is described as...

 and death; however, poisoning from potatoes occurs very rarely. Light exposure causes greening from chlorophyll
Chlorophyll
Chlorophyll is a green pigment found in almost all plants, algae, and cyanobacteria. Its name is derived from the Greek words χλωρος, chloros and φύλλον, phyllon . Chlorophyll is an extremely important biomolecule, critical in photosynthesis, which allows plants to obtain energy from light...

 synthesis, thus giving a visual clue as to areas of the tuber that may have become more toxic; however, this does not provide a definitive guide, as greening and glycoalkaloid accumulation can occur independently of each other. Some varieties of potato contain greater glycoalkaloid concentrations than others; breeders developing new varieties test for this, and sometimes have to discard an otherwise promising cultivar
Cultivar
A cultivar'Cultivar has two meanings as explained under Formal definition. When used in reference to a taxon, the word does not apply to an individual plant but to all those plants sharing the unique characteristics that define the cultivar. is a plant or group of plants selected for desirable...

.

Breeders try to keep solanine levels below 200 mg/kg (200 ppmw). However, when these commercial varieties turn green, even they can approach concentrations of solanine of 1000 mg/kg (1000 ppmw). In normal potatoes, analysis has shown solanine levels may be as little as 3.5% of the breeders' maximum, with 7–187 mg/kg being found. While a normal potato has 12-20 mg/kg of glycoalkaloid content, a green tuber contains 250-280 mg/kg, and green skin 1500-2200 mg/kg.

The U.S. National Toxicology Program suggests that the average American consume at most 12.5 mg/day of solanine from potatoes (the toxic dose is actually several times this, depending on body weight). Douglas L. Holt, the State Extension Specialist for Food Safety at the University of Missouri
University of Missouri
The University of Missouri System is a state university system providing centralized administration for four universities, a health care system, an extension program, five research and technology parks, and a publishing press. More than 64,000 students are currently enrolled at its four campuses...

, notes that no reported cases of potato-source solanine poisoning have occurred in the U.S. in the last 50 years, and most cases involved eating green potatoes or drinking potato-leaf tea.

Growth and cultivation




Potato growth has been divided into five phases. During the first phase, sprouts emerge and root growth begins. During the second, photosynthesis
Photosynthesis
Photosynthesis is a chemical process that converts carbon dioxide into organic compounds, especially sugars, using the energy from sunlight. Photosynthesis occurs in plants, algae, and many species of bacteria, but not in archaea. Photosynthetic organisms are called photoautotrophs, since they can...

 begins as the plant develops leaves and branches. New tubers develop during the third phase, which is often (but not always) associated with flowering. Tuber formation halts when soil temperatures reach 80 °F (26.7 °C); hence potatoes are considered a cool-season crop. Tuber bulking occurs during the fourth phase, when the plant begins investing the majority of its resources in its newly formed tubers. At this stage, several factors are critical to yield: optimal soil moisture and temperature, soil nutrient availability and balance, and resistance to pest attacks. The final phase is maturation: The plant canopy dies back, the tuber skins harden, and their sugars convert to starches.

New tubers may arise at the soil surface. Since exposure to light leads to greening of the skins and the development of solanine, growers are interested in covering such tubers. Commercial growers usually address this problem by piling additional soil around the base of the plant as it grows ("hilling", or in British English "earthing up"). An alternative method used by home gardeners and smaller-scale growers involves covering the growing area with organic mulch
Mulch
In agriculture and gardening, is a protective cover placed over the soil to retain moisture, reduce erosion, provide nutrients, and suppress weed growth and seed germination. Mulching in gardens and landscaping mimics the leaf cover that is found on forest floors....

es such as straw or with plastic sheets.

Correct potato husbandry can be an arduous task in some circumstances. Good ground preparation, harrowing, plowing
Plough
The plough or plow is a tool used in farming for initial cultivation of soil in preparation for sowing seed or planting. It has been a basic instrument for most of recorded history, and represents one of the major advances in agriculture...

, and rolling are always needed, along with a little grace from the weather and a good source of water. Three successive plowings, with associated harrowing and rolling, are desirable before planting. Eliminating all root-weeds is desirable in potato cultivation. In general, the potatoes themselves are grown from the eyes of another potato and not from seed. Home gardeners often plant a piece of potato with two or three eyes in a hill of mounded soil. Commercial growers plant potatoes as a row crop using seed tubers, young plants or microtubers and may mound the entire row. Seed potato crops are 'rogued' in some countries to eliminate diseased plants or those of a different variety from the seed crop.

Potatoes are sensitive to heavy frost
Frost
Frost is the solid deposition of water vapor from saturated air. It is formed when solid surfaces are cooled to below the dew point of the adjacent air as well as below the freezing point of water. Frost crystals' size differ depending on time and water vapour available. Frost is also usually...

s, which damage them in the ground. Even cold weather makes potatoes more susceptible to bruising and possibly later rotting, which can quickly ruin a large stored crop.

At harvest time, gardeners usually dig up potatoes with a long-handled, three-prong "grape" (or graip), i.e., a spading fork, or a potato hook, which is similar to the graip but with tines at a 90 degree angle to the handle. In larger plots, the plow is the fastest implement for unearthing potatoes. Commercial harvesting is typically done with large potato harvesters, which scoop up the plant and surrounding earth. This is transported up an apron chain consisting of steel links several feet wide, which separates some of the dirt. The chain deposits into an area where further separation occurs. Different designs use different systems at this point. The most complex designs use vine choppers and shakers, along with a blower system or "Flying Willard" to separate the potatoes from the plant. The result is then usually run past workers who continue to sort out plant material, stones, and rotten potatoes before the potatoes are continuously delivered to a wagon or truck. Further inspection and separation occurs when the potatoes are unloaded from the field vehicles and put into storage.

Immature potatoes may be sold as "new potatoes" and are particularly valued for taste. These are often harvested by the home gardener or farmer by "grabbling", i.e. pulling out the young tubers by hand while leaving the plant in place.

Potatoes are usually cured after harvest to improve skin-set. Skin-set is the process by which the skin of the potato becomes resistant to skinning damage. Potato tubers may be susceptible to skinning at harvest and suffer skinning damage during harvest and handling operations. Curing allows the skin to fully set and any wounds to heal. Wound-healing prevents infection and water-loss from the tubers during storage. Curing is normally done at relatively warm temperatures 50 °C (122 °F) to 60 °C (140 °F) with high humidity and good gas-exchange if at all possible.

Storage


Storage facilities need to be carefully designed to keep the potatoes alive and slow the natural process of decomposition, which involves the breakdown of starch. It is crucial that the storage area is dark, well ventilated and for long-term storage maintained at temperatures near 4 °C (39.2 °F). For short-term storage before cooking, temperatures of about 7 °C (44.6 °F) to 10 °C (50 °F) are preferred.

On the other hand, temperatures below 4 °C (39.2 °F) convert potatoes' starch into sugar, which alters their taste and cooking qualities and leads to higher acrylamide
Acrylamide
Acrylamide is a chemical compound with the chemical formula C3H5NO. Its IUPAC name is prop-2-enamide. It is a white odourless crystalline solid, soluble in water, ethanol, ether, and chloroform. Acrylamide is incompatible with acids, bases, oxidizing agents, iron, and iron salts...

 levels in the cooked product, especially in deep-fried dishesthe discovery of acrylamides in starchy foods in 2002 has led to many international health concerns as they are believed to be possible carcinogens and their occurrence in cooked foods are currently under study as possible influences in potential health problems. name=tareke>

Under optimum conditions possible in commercial warehouses, potatoes can be stored for up to ten to twelve months. When stored in homes, the shelf life is usually only a few weeks. If potatoes develop green areas or start to sprout, these areas should be trimmed before using. Trimming or peeling green areas are inadequate to remove copresent toxins, and such potatoes are no longer suitable as animal food.

Commercial storage of potatoes involves several phases: drying of surface moisture; a wound healing phase at 85% to 95% relative humidity
Relative humidity
Relative humidity is a term used to describe the amount of water vapor in a mixture of air and water vapor. It is defined as the partial pressure of water vapor in the air-water mixture, given as a percentage of the saturated vapor pressure under those conditions...

 and temperatures below 25 °C (77 °F); a staged cooling phase; a holding phase; and a reconditioning phase, during which the tubers are slowly warmed. Mechanical ventilation is used at various points during the process to prevent condensation and accumulation of carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom...

.

When stored in the home, mature potatoes are optimally kept at room temperature, where they last 1 to 2 weeks in a paper bag, in a dry, cool, dark, well ventilated location. If mature potatoes are refrigerated, dark spots can occur and conversion of starch into sugar can give rise to an unpleasant sweet flavour when cooked. Only new potatoes can be refrigerated, and should be kept so, where they have a shelf life of 1 week. If kept in too warm a temperature, both mature and new potatoes will sprout and shrivel. Exposure to light causes them to turn green. Also, potatoes absorb odours produced by pears.

Varieties


While there are close to 4000 different varieties of potato, it has been bred into many standard or well-known varieties, each of which has particular agricultural or culinary attributes. In general, varieties are categorized into a few main groups, such as russets, reds, whites, yellows (also called Yukons) and purples—based on common characteristics. Around 80 varieties are commercially available in the UK. For culinary purposes, varieties are often described in terms of their waxiness. Floury, or mealy (baking) potatoes have more starch (20–22%) than waxy (boiling) potatoes (16–18%). The distinction may also arise from variation in the comparative ratio of two potato starch compounds: amylose
Amylose
Amylose is a linear polymer made up of D-glucose units.This polysaccharide is one of the two components of starch, making up approximately 2-30% of the structure...

 and amylopectin
Amylopectin
Amylopectin is a soluble polysaccharide and highly branched polymer of glucose found in plants. It is one of the two components of starch, the other being amylose.Glucose units are linked in a linear way with α glycosidic bonds...

. Amylose, a long-chain molecule, diffuses out of the starch granule when cooked in water, and lends itself to dishes where the potato is mashed. Varieties that contain a slightly higher amylopectin content, a highly branched molecule, help the potato retain its shape when boiled.

The European Cultivated Potato Database
European Cultivated Potato Database
The European Cultivated Potato Database is an online collaborative database of potato variety descriptions. The information that it contains can be searched by variety name, or by selecting one or more required characteristics.* 159,848 observations...

 (ECPD) is an online collaborative database of potato variety descriptions, updated and maintained by the Scottish Agricultural Science Agency within the framework of the European Cooperative Programme for Crop Genetic Resources Networks (ECP/GR)—which is organised by the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI).

Popular varieties (cultivar
Cultivar
A cultivar'Cultivar has two meanings as explained under Formal definition. When used in reference to a taxon, the word does not apply to an individual plant but to all those plants sharing the unique characteristics that define the cultivar. is a plant or group of plants selected for desirable...

s) include:

  • Adirondack Blue
  • Adirondack Red
  • Agata
    Agata potato
    The Agata is a potato variety. It comes from a crossing between the BM 52-72 and Sirco varieties.-External links:*...

  • Almond
    Almond potato
    The almond potato is a potato known since the 19th century. Almond potatoes are yellow or white; in rare cases a kind called blue almond can be found which is yellow-white with some color changes in blue...

  • Amandine
    Amandine potato
    The Amandine potato is a cultivar of early potato, descended from the varieties Charlotte and Mariana. First bred in Brittany, France in the early 1990s, it entered the French national list of potato varieties in 1994. Amandine shaws typically produce long tubers with very pale, unblemished skin....

  • Anya
    Anya potato
    Anya is a variety of potato that was bred at the Scottish Crop Research Institute and grown exclusively for Sainsbury's supermarkets by Albert Bartlett...

  • Arran Victory
  • Atlantic
  • Avalanche
    Avalanche
    An avalanche is a sudden rapid flow of snow down a slope, occurring when either natural triggers or human activity causes a critical escalating transition from the slow equilibrium evolution of the snow pack. Typically occurring in mountainous terrain, an avalanche can mix air and water with the...

  • Bamberg
    Bamberg potato
    thumb|Bamberg potatoesThe Bamberg potato is an old potato variety from Franconia. The predominantly waxy potato is small with an elongated and crooked form. It has firm light yellow flesh with a nutty aroma....

  • Belle de Fontenay
  • BF-15
  • Bildtstar
  • Bintje
  • Blue Congo
  • Bonnotte
  • British Queens
  • Cabritas
  • Camota
  • Cara
    Cara
    Cara or CARA may refer to:Human names* Cara , a given name for females.** People with the given name Cara* Cara, an Italian surname.** Ana Cara, an American professor** Irene Cara, an American singer and actress...

  • Chelina
  • Chiloé
  • Cielo

  • Clavela Blanca
  • Désirée
    Desiree potato
    The Désirée is a red-skinned main crop potato originally bred in the Netherlands in 1962. It has yellow flesh with a distinctive flavour and is a favourite with allotment-holders because of its resistance to drought, although it is not well suited to organic growing...

  • Estima
  • Fianna
  • Fingerling
    Fingerling potato
    A fingerling potato is a small, stubby, finger-shaped type of potato which may be any heritage potato cultivars. Fingerlings are varieties that naturally grow small and narrow. They are fully mature when harvested and are not to be confused with new potatoes. Popular fingerling potatoes include the...

  • Flava
  • Golden Wonder
    Golden Wonder potato
    Golden Wonder is a late maincrop russet skinned variety of potato. It is very dry and floury and is ideal for baking, roasting, frying but especially boiling.The potato was originally found in the UK, by a Mr. Brown of Arbroath, Scotland in 1906...

  • Home Guard
    Home Guard
    -Military:*British Home Guard*Combat Groups of the Working Class *Confederate Home Guard, during the American Civil War*Croatian Home Guard and Imperial Croatian Home Guard*Danish Home Guard...

  • Innovator
  • Jersey Royal
  • Kerr's Pink
    Kerr's Pink
    Kerr's Pink is a potato cultivar in wide production in Ireland and the United Kingdom and many other countries. Although often quoted as an "Irish potato" , the cultivar was actually created by J...

  • Kestrel
  • King Edward
    King Edward potato
    King Edward potatoes, like the majority of European and North American potato varieties, are derivatives of the 'Rough Purple Chili' which was used as breeding stock after the 1840s Irish potato famine. The King Edward potato is one of the oldest of these varieties.-Appearance:The King Edward...

  • Kipfler
  • Lady Balfour
  • Linda
  • Marfona
    Marfona
    A Marfona is a potato cultivar with a moderately waxy texture. It originated in the Netherlands in 1975.It has a light brown or yellow skin and a yellow to cream flesh and is a high yielding Second Early variety....

  • Maris Piper
  • Marquis
  • Nicola
  • Pachacoña

  • Pink Eye
  • Pink Fir Apple
  • Primura
  • Ratte
    Ratte potato
    The Ratte is a small potato with a unique nutty flavor and smooth, buttery texture...

  • Record
    Record
    A recording, Record, Records or The Record may mean:An item or collection of data:* Gramophone record , mechanical analog audio storage medium* Record , a data structure...

  • Red Norland
    Red Norland
    Red Norland is a red, early-maturing potato. Smaller tubers are commonly sold as “baby reds” and this variety is often served boiled or in potato salads. The progenitor variety, Norland, was released by the North Dakota Agricultural College in 1957. Since the release of Norland, other darker red...

  • Red Pontiac
    Red Pontiac potato
    The Red Pontiac, also known as Dakota Chief, is a red-skinned early main crop potato variety originally bred in the U.S., and is sold in the United States, Canada, Australia, Algeria, the Philippines, Venezuela and Uruguay. It arose as a color mutant of the original Pontiac variety in Florida, by a...

  • Rooster
    Rooster potato
    Rooster is a red-skinned cultivar of potato, duller in colour than the Désirée, with floury yellow flesh. It was originally bred at the Teagasc Oak Park Research Centre in Carlow, Ireland....

  • Russet Burbank
    Russet Burbank potato
    The Russet Burbank potato is a large brown-skinned, white-fleshed cultivar of potato. Luther Burbank developed the Burbank potato in Lunenburg, Massachusetts, U.S., in the early 1870s. In 1875, Burbank sold his farm and the rights to his potato, and moved to Santa Rosa, California...

  • Russet Norkotah
  • Selma
  • Shepody
  • Sieglinde
  • Sirco
  • Spunta
  • Stobrawa
  • Vivaldi
    Vivaldi potato
    The Vivaldi potato is a cultivar of potato developed by a company called Naturally Best, based in Lincolnshire, England.Lab studies have shown Vivaldi to be lower in calories and carbohydrates than many other popular potato varieties....

  • Vitelotte
    Vitelotte
    Vitelotte is an ancient cultivar of blue-violet potato.-Description:...

  • Yellow Finn
  • Yukon Gold
    Yukon Gold potato
    Yukon Gold is a large variety of potato most distinctly characterized by its smooth eye free skin and yellow tinged flesh. This variety of potato was developed in 1960’s by G. R. Johnston and R.G. Rowberry in Guelph, Ontario, Canada at the University of Guelph...



Blue varieties



The blue potato originated in South America. It has purple skin and flesh, which becomes blue once cooked. It has a slight whitish scab that seems to be present in all samples. The variety, called "Cream of the Crop", has been introduced into Ireland and has proved popular.

A mutation in the varieties' P locus causes production of the antioxidant
Antioxidant
An antioxidant is a molecule capable of inhibiting the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that transfers electrons or hydrogen from a substance to an oxidizing agent. Oxidation reactions can produce free radicals. In turn, these radicals can start chain reactions. When...

 anthocyanin
Anthocyanin
Anthocyanins are water-soluble vacuolar pigments that may appear red, purple, or blue according to pH...

.

Genetically-modified varieties


Genetic research has produced several genetically modified varieties. 'New Leaf', owned by Monsanto Company, incorporates genes from Bacillus thuringiensis
Bacillus thuringiensis
Bacillus thuringiensis is a Gram-positive, soil-dwelling bacterium, commonly used as a biological pesticide; alternatively, the Cry toxin may be extracted and used as a pesticide. B...

, which confers resistance to the Colorado potato beetle
Colorado potato beetle
The Colorado potato beetle , also known as the Colorado beetle, the ten-striped spearman, the ten-lined potato beetle or the potato bug, is an important pest of potato crops. It is approximately 10 mm long, with a bright yellow/orange body and five bold brown stripes along the length of each...

; 'New Leaf Plus' and 'New Leaf Y', approved by US regulatory agencies during the 1990s, also include resistance to viruses. McDonald's
McDonald's
McDonald's Corporation is the world's largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants, serving around 64 million customers daily in 119 countries. Headquartered in the United States, the company began in 1940 as a barbecue restaurant operated by the eponymous Richard and Maurice McDonald; in 1948...

, Burger King
Burger King
Burger King, often abbreviated as BK, is a global chain of hamburger fast food restaurants headquartered in unincorporated Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States. The company began in 1953 as Insta-Burger King, a Jacksonville, Florida-based restaurant chain...

, Frito-Lay
Frito-Lay
Frito-Lay North America is the division of PepsiCo that manufactures, markets and sells corn chips, potato chips and other snack foods. The primary snack food brands produced under the Frito-Lay name include Fritos corn chips, Cheetos cheese-flavored snacks, Doritos and Tostitos tortilla chips,...

, and Procter & Gamble
Procter & Gamble
Procter & Gamble is a Fortune 500 American multinational corporation headquartered in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio and manufactures a wide range of consumer goods....

 announced they would not use genetically modified potatoes, and Monsanto published its intent to discontinue the line in March 2001. The starch content of 'Amflora
Amflora
Amflora is a genetically modified potato owned by BASF Plant Science. Amflora was approved for industrial applications in the European Union market on 2 March 2010 by the European Commission.-History:...

', a waxy potato variety
Waxy potato starch
Waxy potato starch is a new species of starch only containing amylopectin molecules, extracted from new potato varieties. Standard starch extracted from traditional potato varieties contains both amylose and amylopectin....

 from the German chemical company BASF
BASF
BASF SE is the largest chemical company in the world and is headquartered in Germany. BASF originally stood for Badische Anilin- und Soda-Fabrik . Today, the four letters are a registered trademark and the company is listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, London Stock Exchange, and Zurich Stock...

, has been modified to contain only amylopectin
Amylopectin
Amylopectin is a soluble polysaccharide and highly branched polymer of glucose found in plants. It is one of the two components of starch, the other being amylose.Glucose units are linked in a linear way with α glycosidic bonds...

, making it inedible but more useful for industrial purposes. In 2010, the European Commission cleared the way for 'Amflora' to be grown in the European Union. Nevertheless, under EU rules, individual countries have the right to decide whether they will allow this potato to be grown on their territory. Commercial planting of 'Amflora' was expected in the Czech Republic and Germany in the spring of 2010, and Sweden and the Netherlands in subsequent years. Another GM potato variety developed by BASF is 'Fortuna'. In 2010, a team of Indian scientists announced they had developed a genetically modified potato with 35 to 60% more protein than non-modified potatoes. Protein content was boosted by adding the gene AmA1 from the grain amaranth
Amaranth
Amaranthus, collectively known as amaranth, is a cosmopolitan genus of herbs. Approximately 60 species are recognized, with inflorescences and foliage ranging from purple and red to gold...

. They also found 15 to 25% greater crop yields with these potatoes. The researchers expected that a key market for the GM potato would be the developing world, where more than a billion people are chronically undernourished.

New non-GM varieties


Other new potato cultivars are conventionally bred. For example, on 22 September 2007, Benguet
Benguet
Benguet is a landlocked province of the Philippines in the Cordillera Administrative Region in Luzon. Its capital is La Trinidad and borders, clockwise from the south, Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Sur, Mountain Province, Ifugao, and Nueva Vizcaya....

 State University
State university
In the United States, a state college or state university is one of the public colleges or universities funded by or associated with the state government. In some cases, these institutions of higher learning are part of a state university system, while in other cases they are not. Several U.S....

 (BSU) announced that four potato varieties—'Igorota', 'Solibao', 'Ganza' and one not yet officially named—possess more than 18% dry matter
Dry matter
The dry matter is a measurement of the mass of something when completely dried.The dry matter of plant and animal material would be its solids, i.e. all its constituents excluding water. The dry matter of food would include carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants...

 content required by fast-food chains to make crispy and sturdy French fries
French fries
French fries , chips, fries, or French-fried potatoes are strips of deep-fried potato. North Americans tend to refer to any pieces of deep-fried potatoes as fries or French fries, while in the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand, long, thinly cut slices of deep-fried potatoes are...

. Since 2005, a natural 100% amylopectin waxy potato variety called 'Eliane' is being cultivated by the starch company AVEBE
AVEBE
The cooperative AVEBE U.A. is an international Dutch starch manufacturer located in the north of the Netherlands and produces starch products based on potato starch and potato protein for use in food, animal feed, paper, construction, textiles and adhesives.About 3000 farmers are member of AVEBE...

.

Some horticulturists sell chimeras, made by grafting a tomato plant onto a potato plant, producing both edible tomatoes and potatoes. This practice is not very widespread.

Pests



The historically significant Phytophthora infestans
Phytophthora infestans
Phytophthora infestans is an oomycete that causes the serious potato disease known as late blight or potato blight. . Late blight was a major culprit in the 1840s European, the 1845 Irish and 1846 Highland potato famines...

(late blight) remains an ongoing problem in Europe and the United States. Other potato diseases include Rhizoctonia, Sclerotinia
Sclerotinia
Sclerotinia is a genus of fungi in the family Sclerotiniaceae. The widely distributed species contains 14 species....

, black leg, powdery mildew
Powdery mildew
Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that affects a wide range of plants. Powdery mildew diseases are caused by many different species of fungi in the order Erysiphales. It is one of the easier diseases to spot, as its symptoms are quite distinctive. Infected plants display white powdery spots on the...

, powdery scab
Powdery scab
Powdery scab, is a disease that happens to tubers. It is caused by the cercozoan Spongospora subterranea, is widespread in potato growing countries. Symptoms of powdery scab include small lesions in the early stages of the disease, progressing to raised pustules containing a powdery mass. Powdery...

, leafroll virus
Potato leafroll virus
Potato leafroll virus is a member of the genus Polerovirus and family Luteoviridae. The phloem limited positive sense RNA virus infects potatos and other members of the family Solanaceae. PLRV was first described by Quanjer et. al. in 1916. PLRV is transmitted by aphids, primarily the green...

, and purple top.

Insects that commonly transmit potato diseases or damage the plants include the Colorado potato beetle
Colorado potato beetle
The Colorado potato beetle , also known as the Colorado beetle, the ten-striped spearman, the ten-lined potato beetle or the potato bug, is an important pest of potato crops. It is approximately 10 mm long, with a bright yellow/orange body and five bold brown stripes along the length of each...

, the potato tuber moth, the green peach aphid (Myzus persicae
Myzus persicae
Myzus persicae, known as the green peach aphid, is a small green aphid. It is the most significant aphid pest of peach trees, causing decreased growth, shriveling of the leaves and the death of various tissues...

), the potato aphid, beetleafhoppers, thrips
Thrips
Thrips are tiny, slender insects with fringed wings . Other common names for thrips include thunderflies, thunderbugs, storm flies, thunderblights, and corn lice...

, and mites
MITES
MITES, or Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science, is a highly selective six-week summer program for rising high school seniors held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Its purpose is to expose students from minority, or otherwise disadvantaged backgrounds, to the fields of...

. The potato root nematode is a microscopic worm that thrives on the roots, thus causing the potato plants to wilt. Since its eggs can survive in the soil for several years, crop rotation
Crop rotation
Crop rotation is the practice of growing a series of dissimilar types of crops in the same area in sequential seasons.Crop rotation confers various benefits to the soil. A traditional element of crop rotation is the replenishment of nitrogen through the use of green manure in sequence with cereals...

 is recommended.

Pesticides


During the crop year 2008, many of the certified organic potatoes produced in the United Kingdom and certified by the Soil Association
Soil Association
The Soil Association is a charity based in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1946, it has over 27,000 members today. Its activities include campaign work on issues including opposition to intensive farming, support for local purchasing and public education on nutrition; as well the certification of...

 as organic were sprayed with a copper pesticide
Copper pesticide
A copper pesticide is a copper compound used as a pesticide or fungicide. In the UK the Soil Association permits farmers to use some copper fungicides on organic land used for the production of certified organic crops only if there is a major threat to crops...

 to control potato blight (Phytophthora infestans). According to the Soil Association, the total copper that can be applied to organic land is 6 kg/ha
Hectare
The hectare is a metric unit of area defined as 10,000 square metres , and primarily used in the measurement of land. In 1795, when the metric system was introduced, the are was defined as being 100 square metres and the hectare was thus 100 ares or 1/100 km2...

/year.

According to an Environmental Working Group
Environmental Working Group
The Environmental Working Group is an American environmental organization that specializes in research and advocacy in the areas of toxic chemicals, agricultural subsidies, public lands, and corporate accountability...

 analysis of USDA and FDA pesticide residue tests performed from 2000 through 2008, 84% of the 2,216 tested potato samples contained detectable traces of at least one pesticide. A total of 36 unique pesticides were detected on potatoes over the 2,216 samples, though no individual sample contained more than 6 unique pesticide traces, and the average was 1.29 detectable unique pesticide traces per sample. The average quantity of all pesticide traces found in the 2,216 samples was 1.602 ppm. While this is a very low value of pesticide residue, it is the highest amongst the 50 vegetables analyzed.

Health


Due to carbohydrate content, potatoes are considered to make a person obese if used in excess i.e. more than RDA of carbohydrates and fats. Research by the University of California, Davis and the National Center for Food Safety and Technology, Illinois Institute of Technology demonstrates that people can include potatoes in their diet and still lose weight.

Uses

  • Potatoes are used to brew alcoholic beverages such as vodka
    Vodka
    Vodka , is a distilled beverage. It is composed primarily of water and ethanol with traces of impurities and flavorings. Vodka is made by the distillation of fermented substances such as grains, potatoes, or sometimes fruits....

    , potcheen, or akvavit
    Akvavit
    Akvavit or aquavit is a traditional flavoured spirit that is principally produced in Scandinavia, where it has been produced since the 15th century....

    .
  • They are also used as food for domestic animals.
  • Potato starch
    Potato starch
    Potato starch is starch extracted from potatoes. The cells of the root tubers of the potato plant contain starch grains . To extract the starch, the potatoes are crushed; the starch grains are released from the destroyed cells...

     is used in the food industry as, for example, thickeners and binders of soups and sauces, in the textile industry, as adhesives, and for the manufacturing of papers and boards.
  • Maine
    Maine
    Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

     companies are exploring the possibilities of using waste potatoes to obtain polylactic acid
    Polylactic acid
    Poly or polylactide is a thermoplastic aliphatic polyester derived from renewable resources, such as corn starch , tapioca products or sugarcanes...

     for use in plastic products; other research projects seek ways to use the starch as a base for biodegradable packaging.

Culinary uses


Potatoes are prepared in many ways: skin-on or peeled, whole or cut up, with seasonings or without. The only requirement involves cooking to swell the starch granules. Most potato dishes are served hot, but some are first cooked, then served cold, notably potato salad
Potato salad
Potato salad is a dish made from boiled potatoes, the versions of which vary throughout different regions and countries of the world. Although called a salad, it is generally considered a side dish, as it generally accompanies the main course....

 and potato chips/crisps
Potato chip
Potato chips are thin slices of potato that are deep fried...

.

Common dishes are: mashed potato
Mashed potato
Mashed potato is made by mashing freshly boiled potatoes with a ricer, fork, potato masher, food mill, or whipping them with a hand beater. Dehydrated and frozen mashed potatoes are available in many places...

es, which are first boiled (usually peeled), and then mashed with milk
Milk
Milk is a white liquid produced by the mammary glands of mammals. It is the primary source of nutrition for young mammals before they are able to digest other types of food. Early-lactation milk contains colostrum, which carries the mother's antibodies to the baby and can reduce the risk of many...

 or yogurt and butter
Butter
Butter is a dairy product made by churning fresh or fermented cream or milk. It is generally used as a spread and a condiment, as well as in cooking applications, such as baking, sauce making, and pan frying...

; whole baked potato
Baked potato
A baked potato, or jacket potato, is the edible result of baking a potato. When well cooked, a baked potato has a fluffy interior and a crisp skin. It may be served with fillings and condiments such as butter, cheese or ham....

es; boiled
Boiling
Boiling is the rapid vaporization of a liquid, which occurs when a liquid is heated to its boiling point, the temperature at which the vapor pressure of the liquid is equal to the pressure exerted on the liquid by the surrounding environmental pressure. While below the boiling point a liquid...

 or steamed
Steaming
Steaming is a method of cooking using steam. Steaming is considered a healthy cooking technique and capable of cooking almost all kinds of food.-Method:...

 potatoes; French-fried potatoes or chips
French fries
French fries , chips, fries, or French-fried potatoes are strips of deep-fried potato. North Americans tend to refer to any pieces of deep-fried potatoes as fries or French fries, while in the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand, long, thinly cut slices of deep-fried potatoes are...

; cut into cubes and roasted
Roasting
Roasting is a cooking method that uses dry heat, whether an open flame, oven, or other heat source. Roasting usually causes caramelization or Maillard browning of the surface of the food, which is considered by some as a flavor enhancement. Roasting uses more indirect, diffused heat , and is...

; scalloped, diced, or sliced and fried (home fries); grated into small thin strips and fried (hash browns); grated and formed into dumplings, Rösti
Rösti
Rösti is a Swiss dish consisting mainly of potatoes. It was originally a common breakfast eaten by farmers in the canton of Bern, but today is eaten all over Switzerland and also in many restaurants in the Western World. Many Swiss people consider rösti a national dish...

 or potato pancakes. Unlike many foods, potatoes can also be easily cooked in a microwave oven
Microwave oven
A microwave oven is a kitchen appliance that heats food by dielectric heating, using microwave radiation to heat polarized molecules within the food...

 and still retain nearly all of their nutritional value, provided they are covered in ventilated plastic wrap
Plastic wrap
Plastic wrap, cling film , cling wrap or food wrap, is a thin plastic film typically used for sealing food items in containers to keep them fresh over a longer period of time...

 to prevent moisture from escaping; this method produces a meal very similar to a steamed potato, while retaining the appearance of a conventionally baked potato. Potato chunks also commonly appear as a stew
Stew
A stew is a combination of solid food ingredients that have been cooked in liquid and served in the resultant gravy. Ingredients in a stew can include any combination of vegetables , meat, especially tougher meats suitable for slow-cooking, such as beef. Poultry, sausages, and seafood are also used...

 ingredient.

Potatoes are boiled between 10 and 25 minutes, depending on size and type, to become soft.

Latin America


Peruvian cuisine
Peruvian cuisine
Peruvian cuisine reflects local cooking practices and ingredients—and, through immigration, influences from Spain, China, Italy, West Africa, and Japan. Due to a lack of ingredients from their home countries, immigrants to Peru modified their traditional cuisines by using ingredients...

 naturally contains the potato as a primary ingredient in many dishes, as around 3,000 varieties of this tuber are grown there.
Some of the more notable dishes include boiled potato as a base for several dishes or with ají
Aji
Aji may refer to:*Ağrı Airport , near the city of Ağrı in the Ağrı Province, Turkey*Ají pepper*Aji , a condiment*Aji , a historical title and rank in the Ryukyu Islands*Aji , in Tieling County, Liaoning, China...

-based sauces like in papa a la huancaina
Papa a la Huancaina
Papa a la Huancaína is a Peruvian salad of boiled yellow potatoes in a spicy, creamy sauce called Huancaína sauce...

 or ocopa, diced potato for its use in soups like in cau cau, or in Carapulca with dried potato (papa seca). Smashed condimented potato is used in causa Limeña and papa rellena
Papa rellena
Papas rellenas is a traditional dish in Peruvian cuisines. The earliest appearances in cookbooks are from the late 19th century. It has now spread to other parts of Latin America...

. French-fried potatoes are a typical ingredient in Peruvian stir-fries, including the classic dish lomo saltado
Lomo saltado
Lomo saltado is a Peruvian dish that has Asian influences consisting of strips of sirloin marinated in vinegar, soy sauce and spices, then stir fried with red onions, parsley and tomatoes. It is traditionally served over white rice with homemade french fries that look more like potato wedges. Its...

.

Chuño
Chuño
Chuño is a freeze-dried potato product traditionally made by Quechua and Aymara communities of Bolivia and Peru, and is known in various countries of South America, including Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru...

 is a freeze-dried potato product traditionally made by Quechua
Quechuas
Quechuas is the collective term for several indigenous ethnic groups in South America who speak a Quechua language , belonging to several ethnic groups in South America, especially in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Argentina.The Quechuas of Ecuador call themselves as well as their...

 and Aymara communities of Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

 and Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

, and is known in various countries of South America, including Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

, Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

, Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, and Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

. In Chile's Chiloé Archipelago
Chiloé Archipelago
Chiloé Archipelago consists of several islands lying off the coast of Chile. It is separated from mainland Chile by Chacao Channel in the north, the Sea of Chiloé in the east and Gulf of Corcovado to the southeast. All of the archipelago except Desertores Islands, which are part of Palena...

, potatoes are the main ingredient of many dishes, including milcaos, chapaleles, curanto
Curanto
Curanto is a traditional food of Chiloé Archipelago that has spread to the southern areas of Chile and recently Argentina. It is traditionally prepared in a hole, about a meter and a half deep, which is dug in the ground...

 and chochoca. In Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

, the potato, as well as being a staple with most dishes, is featured in the hearty locro de papas, a thick soup of potato, squash, and cheese.

European cuisine


In the UK, potatoes form part of the traditional staple fish and chips
Fish and chips
Fish and chips is a popular take-away food in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada...

. Roast potatoes are commonly served with a Sunday roast
Sunday roast
The Sunday roast is a traditional British main meal served on Sundays , consisting of roasted meat, roast potato or mashed potato, with accompaniments such as Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, vegetables and gravy....

, and mashed potatoes form a major component of several other traditional dishes such as shepherd's pie
Shepherd's pie
Cottage pie or shepherd's pie is a meat pie with a crust of mashed potato.The term cottage pie is known to have been in use in 1791, when the potato was being introduced as an edible crop affordable for the poor Cottage pie or shepherd's pie is a meat pie with a crust of mashed potato.The term...

, bubble and squeak
Bubble and squeak
Bubble and squeak is a traditional English dish made with the shallow-fried leftover vegetables from a roast dinner. The main ingredients are potato and cabbage, but carrots, peas, brussels sprouts, and other vegetables can be added...

, and bangers and mash
Bangers and mash
Bangers and mash, also known as sausages and mash, is a traditional English dish made of mashed potatoes and sausages, the latter of which may be one of a variety of flavoured sausage made of pork or beef or a Cumberland sausage....

. New potatoes are often cooked with mint
Mentha
Mentha is a genus of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae . The species are not clearly distinct and estimates of the number of species varies from 13 to 18. Hybridization between some of the species occurs naturally...

 and served with a little melted butter.

The Tattie scone
Tattie scone
A tattie scone is a regional variant of the savoury griddle scone which is especially popular in Scotland and The Isle of Man. Many variations of recipe exist. They generally include liberal quantities of boiled potatoes and salt....

 is a popular Scottish dish containing potatoes. Colcannon
Colcannon
Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish mainly consisting of mashed potatoes with kale or cabbage. It is also the name of a song about the dish.-Dish:...

 is a traditional Irish food made with mashed potato, shredded kale
Kale
Kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, and reasonably rich in calcium. Kale, as with broccoli and other brassicas, contains sulforaphane , a chemical with potent anti-cancer properties. Boiling decreases the level of sulforaphane; however, steaming,...

 or cabbage, and onion; champ
Champ (food)
Champ is an Irish dish, made by combining mashed potatoes and chopped spring onions with butter and milk, and optionally, salt and pepper. It is simple and inexpensive to produce...

 is a similar dish. Boxty
Boxty
Boxty is a traditional Irish potato pancake. The dish is mostly associated with the north midlands, north Connacht and southern Ulster, in particular the counties of Mayo, Sligo, Donegal , Fermanagh, Longford, Leitrim and Cavan...

 pancakes are eaten throughout Ireland, although associated especially with the north, and in Irish diaspora communities; they are traditionally made with grated potatoes, soaked to loosen the starch and mixed with flour, buttermilk and baking powder. A variant eaten and sold in Lancashire
Lancashire
Lancashire is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in the North West of England. It takes its name from the city of Lancaster, and is sometimes known as the County of Lancaster. Although Lancaster is still considered to be the county town, Lancashire County Council is based in Preston...

, especially Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

, is made with cooked and mashed potatoes.

Bryndzové halušky
Bryndzové halušky
Bryndzové Halušky is one of the national dishes in Slovakia. This hearty meal consists of Halušky and bryndza , optionally sprinkled with cooked bits of smoked pork fat/bacon.Žinčica is traditionally drunk with this meal...

is the Slovakia
Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

n national dish, made of a batter of flour and finely grated potatoes that is boiled to form dumplings. These are then mixed with regionally varying ingredients.

In Northern
Northern Europe
Northern Europe is the northern part or region of Europe. Northern Europe typically refers to the seven countries in the northern part of the European subcontinent which includes Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland and Sweden...

 and Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

, especially in Scandinavian countries
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

, Poland, Russia, Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

 and Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

, newly harvested, early ripening varieties are considered a special delicacy. Boiled whole and served un-peeled with dill
Dill
Dill is a perennial herb. It is the sole species of the genus Anethum, though classified by some botanists in a related genus as Peucedanum graveolens C.B.Clarke.-Growth:...

, these "new potatoes" are traditionally consumed with Baltic herring. Puddings made from grated potatoes (kugel
Kugel
Kugel is a baked Ashkenazi Jewish pudding or casserole, similar to a pie, most commonly made from egg noodles or potatoes, though at times made of zucchini, apples, spinach, broccoli, cranberry, or sweet potato...

, kugelis
Kugelis
Kugelis is a baked potato pudding that is a Lithuanian national dish. The main ingredients are potatoes, bacon, milk, onions, and eggs. It may be spiced with salt, black pepper, bay leaves, and/or marjoram...

, and potato babka
Potato babka
Potato babka is a savoury dish, popular especially in Belarus. It is made from grated potatoes, eggs, onions, and pieces of smoked, boiled or fried bacon. It is oven-baked in a crock, and often served with a sauce of sour cream and pork flitch...

) are popular items of Ashkenazi, Lithuanian
Lithuanian cuisine
Lithuanian cuisine features the products suited to the cool and moist northern climate of Lithuania: barley, potatoes, rye, beets, greens, berries, and mushrooms are locally grown, and dairy products are one of its specialities...

, and Belarussian
Belarusian cuisine
Belarusian cuisine shares the same roots with cuisines of other Eastern and Northern European countries, basing predominantly on meat and various vegetables typical for the region.-History:...

 cuisine.
In Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

, especially in Belgium, sliced potatoes are fried to create frieten, the original French fried potatoes. Stamppot
Stamppot
Stamppot is a traditional Dutch dish made from a combination of potatoes mashed with one or several other vegetables, sometimes also with bacon. These vegetable pairings traditionally include sauerkraut, endive, kale, spinach, turnip greens, or carrot and onion...

, a traditional Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 meal, is based on mashed potatoes mixed with vegetables.

In France, the most notable potato dish is the Hachis Parmentier
Hachis Parmentier
In haute cuisine, hachis Parmentier is a dish made with mashed, baked potato, combined with diced meat and sauce lyonnaise and served in the potato shells...

, named after Antoine-Augustin Parmentier
Antoine-Augustin Parmentier
Antoine-Augustin Parmentier is remembered as a vocal promoter of the potato as a food source in France and throughout Europe...

, a French pharmacist, nutritionist, and agronomist who, in the late 18th century, was instrumental in the acceptance of the potato as an edible crop in the country. The pâté aux pommes de terre
Pâté aux pommes de terre
The pâté aux pommes de terre, , or pâté de pommes de terre is a speciality of the Limousin and the Allier regions in Central France. It can be served either as a side dish or as the main course. Today it is often eaten with a green salad. Its main ingredients are potato slices and crème fraîche,...

is a regional potato dish from the central Allier
Allier
Allier is a department in central France named after the river Allier.- History :Allier is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790. It was created from parts of the former provinces of Auvergne and Bourbonnais.In 1940, the government of Marshal...

 and Limousin
Limousin (région)
Limousin is one of the 27 regions of France. It is composed of three départements: Corrèze, Creuse and the Haute-Vienne.Situated largely in the Massif Central, as of January 1st 2008, the Limousin comprised 740,743 inhabitants on nearly 17 000 km2, making it the second least populated region of...

 regions.

In the north of Italy, in particular, in the Friuli
Friuli
Friuli is an area of northeastern Italy with its own particular cultural and historical identity. It comprises the major part of the autonomous region Friuli-Venezia Giulia, i.e. the province of Udine, Pordenone, Gorizia, excluding Trieste...

 region of the northeast, potatoes serve to make a type of pasta called gnocchi
Gnocchi
Gnocchi are various thick, soft dumplings. They may be made from semolina, ordinary wheat flour, flour and egg, flour, egg, and cheese, potato, bread crumbs, or similar ingredients. The smaller forms are called gnocchetti....

. Similarly, cooked and mashed potatoes or potato flour can be used in the Knödel
Knödel
Knödel or Klöße are large round poached or boiled potato or bread dumplings, made without yeast. They are typical components of Austrian, German, Hungarian and Czech cuisine, and come in many different forms. They can be made from flour, potatoes, old bread, semolina and many more...

 or dumpling
Dumpling
Dumplings are cooked balls of dough. They are based on flour, potatoes or bread, and may include meat, fish, vegetables, or sweets. They may be cooked by boiling, steaming, simmering, frying, or baking. They may have a filling, or there may be other ingredients mixed into the dough. Dumplings may...

 eaten with or added to meat dishes all over central and Eastern Europe, but especially in Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

 and Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

. Potatoes form one of the main ingredients in many soups such as the vichyssoise
Vichyssoise
Vichyssoise is a thick soup made of puréed leeks, onions, potatoes, cream, and chicken stock. It is traditionally served cold, but can also be eaten hot.-Origin:...

 and Albanian potato and cabbage soup. In western Norway, komle is popular.

A traditional Canary Islands
Canary Islands
The Canary Islands , also known as the Canaries , is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The Canaries are a Spanish autonomous community and an outermost region of the European Union...

 dish is Canarian wrinkly potatoes
Canarian wrinkly potatoes
Canarian wrinkly potatoes is a traditional baked potato dish eaten in Canary Islands. They are usually served with a pepper sauce, called Mojo, or as an accompaniment to meat dishes....

 or papas arrugadas. Tortilla de patatas
Tortilla de patatas
The Spanish omelette or Spanish tortilla, also called simply tortilla in English when there is no confusion with the Mexican maize tortilla, is a typically Spanish dish consisting of a thick egg omelette made with potatoes and fried in olive oil....

(potato omelete) and patatas bravas (a dish of fried potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce) are near-universal constituent of Spanish tapas
Tapas
Tapas are a wide variety of appetizers, or snacks, in Spanish cuisine. They may be cold or warm ....

.

North America



In the United States, potatoes have become one of the most widely consumed crops and thus have a variety of preparation methods and condiments. French fries
French fries
French fries , chips, fries, or French-fried potatoes are strips of deep-fried potato. North Americans tend to refer to any pieces of deep-fried potatoes as fries or French fries, while in the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand, long, thinly cut slices of deep-fried potatoes are...

 and often hash browns are commonly found in typical American fast-food burger joints and cafeterias. One popular favorite involves a baked potato with cheddar cheese (or sour cream and chives) on top, and in New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

 "smashed potatoes" (a chunkier variation on mashed potatoes, retaining the peel) have great popularity. Potato flakes are popular as an instant variety of mashed potatoes, which reconstitute into mashed potatoes by adding water, with butter or oil and salt to taste. A regional dish of Central New York
Central New York
Central New York is a term used to broadly describe the central region of New York State, roughly including the following counties and cities:...

, salt potatoes
Salt potatoes
Salt potatoes are a regional dish of Syracuse, New York, typically served in the summer when the young potatoes are first harvested. They are a staple food at fairs and barbecues...

 are bite-size new potatoes boiled in water saturated with salt then served with melted butter. At more formal dinners, a common practice includes taking small red potatoes, slicing them, and roasting them in an iron skillet. Among American Jews
American Jews
American Jews, also known as Jewish Americans, are American citizens of the Jewish faith or Jewish ethnicity. The Jewish community in the United States is composed predominantly of Ashkenazi Jews who emigrated from Central and Eastern Europe, and their U.S.-born descendants...

, the practice of eating latkes (fried potato pancakes) is common during the festival of Hanukkah
Hanukkah
Hanukkah , also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE...

.

A traditional Acadian
Acadian
The Acadians are the descendants of the 17th-century French colonists who settled in Acadia . Acadia was a colony of New France...

 dish from New Brunswick
New Brunswick
New Brunswick is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the only province in the federation that is constitutionally bilingual . The provincial capital is Fredericton and Saint John is the most populous city. Greater Moncton is the largest Census Metropolitan Area...

 is known as poutine râpée. The Acadian poutine is a ball of grated and mashed potato
Mashed potato
Mashed potato is made by mashing freshly boiled potatoes with a ricer, fork, potato masher, food mill, or whipping them with a hand beater. Dehydrated and frozen mashed potatoes are available in many places...

, salted, sometimes filled with pork
Pork
Pork is the culinary name for meat from the domestic pig , which is eaten in many countries. It is one of the most commonly consumed meats worldwide, with evidence of pig husbandry dating back to 5000 BC....

 in the center, and boiled. The result is a moist ball about the size of a baseball. It is commonly eaten with salt and pepper or brown sugar
Brown sugar
Brown sugar is a sucrose sugar product with a distinctive brown color due to the presence of molasses. It is either an unrefined or partially refined soft sugar consisting of sugar crystals with some residual molasses content, or it is produced by the addition of molasses to refined white...

. It is believed to have originated from the German
Klöße
Klose
Klose is a surname, and may refer to*Adolf Klose , German railroad engineer and inventor* Anastasia Klose, , Australian artist* Bob Klose, , British musician and photographer* Dennie Klose, , German Comedian...

, prepared by early German settlers who lived among the Acadians.

Poutine
Poutine
Poutine is a Canadian dish of French fries and fresh cheese curds, covered with brown gravy or sauce. Sometimes additional ingredients are added.Poutine is a fast food dish that originated in Quebec and can now be found across Canada...

, by contrast, is a hearty serving of French fries, fresh cheese curds and hot gravy. Tracing its origins to Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

 in the 1950s, it has become a widespread and popular dish throughout Canada.

Indian Subcontinent


In India, the most popular potato dishes are aloo ki sabzi, batata vada
Batata vada
Batata Vada is a popular Indian vegetarian fast food in Maharashtra, India. It literally means potato fritters. The name "Batata" means potato in English. It consists of a potato mash patty coated with chick pea flour, then deep-fried and served hot with savory condiments called Chutney...

, and samosa
Samosa
A samosa is a stuffed, deep fried,snack that is very popular in the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Central Asia and Southwest Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, the Mediterranean, the Horn of Africa, North Africa and South Africa...

, which is spicy mashed potato mixed with a small amount of vegetable stuffed in conical dough, and deep fried. Potatoes are also a major ingredient as fast food items, such as aloo chaat, where they are deep fried and served with chutney. In Northern India, alu dum and alu paratha are a favorite part of the diet; the first is a spicy curry of boiled potato, the second is a type of stuffed chapati.

A dish called masala dosa from South India is very notable all over India. It is a thin pancake of rice and pulse paste rolled over spicy smashed potato and eaten with sambhar and chutney. Poori in south India in particular in Tamil Nadu is almost always taken with smashed potato masal. Other favorite dishes are alu tikki and pakoda items.

Vada pav
Vada pav
Vada pav , sometimes spelled wada pav, is a popular vegetarian fast food dish native to the Indian state of Maharashtra. It consists of a batata vada sandwiched between 2 slices of a pav. The compound word batata vada refers in Marathi to a vada made out of batata, the latter referring to a potato...

 is a popular vegetarian fast food dish in Mumbai and other regions in the Maharashtra in India.

Aloo posto (a curry with potatoes and poppy seeds) is immensely popular in East India, especially Bengal. Although potatoes are not native to India, it has become a vital part of food all over the country especially North Indian food preparations. In Tamil Nadu this tuber acquired a name based on its appearance 'urulai-k-kizhangu' (உருளைக் கிழங்கு) meaning cylindrical tuber.

Far East Asia


In the Far East, rice still dominates the potato, especially in China and Japan. However, it is used in northern China where rice is not easily grown, with a popular dish being 青椒土豆丝 (qīng jiāo tǔ dòu sī), made with green pepper, vinegar and a thin slices of potato. In the winter, roadside sellers in northern China will also sell roasted potatoes. It is also occasionally seen in Korean and Thai cuisines.

Art


The potato has been an essential crop in the Andes
Andes
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

 since the pre-Columbian
Pre-Columbian
The pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences on the American continents, spanning the time of the original settlement in the Upper Paleolithic period to European colonization during...

 Era. The Moche
Moche
'The Moche civilization flourished in northern Peru from about 100 AD to 800 AD, during the Regional Development Epoch. While this issue is the subject of some debate, many scholars contend that the Moche were not politically organized as a monolithic empire or state...

 culture from Northern Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

 made ceramics from earth, water, and fire. This pottery was a sacred substance, formed in significant shapes and used to represent important themes. Potatoes are represented anthropomorphically as well as naturally.

During the late 19th century, numerous images of potato harvesting appeared in European art, including the works of Willem Witsen
Willem Witsen
Willem Witsen was a Dutch painter and photographer.Witsen was born in a wealthy ruling-class family, dating back to the governing families of the 17th century, of whom Cornelis Jan Witsen and his son Nicolaes Witsen were members. He studied at academies in Amsterdam and Antwerp...

 and Anton Mauve
Anton Mauve
Anthonij Rudolf Mauve was a Dutch realist painter who was a leading member of the Hague School. He signed his paintings 'A. Mauve' or with a monogrammed 'A.M.'. He was a very significant early influence on his cousin-in-law Vincent van Gogh.Most of Mauve's work depicts people and animals in...

. Van Gogh's 1885 painting "The Potato Eaters
The Potato Eaters
The Potato Eaters is a painting by the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh which he painted in April 1885 while in Nuenen, Netherlands. It is housed in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam...

" portrays a family eating potatoes.

Invented in 1949 and marketed and sold commercially by Hasbro
Hasbro
Hasbro is a multinational toy and boardgame company from the United States of America. It is one of the largest toy makers in the world. The corporate headquarters is located in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, United States...

 in 1952, Mr. Potato Head
Mr. Potato Head
Mr. Potato Head! is an American toy consisting of a plastic model of a potato which can be decorated with a variety of plastic parts that can attach to the main body. These parts usually include ears, eyes, shoes, a hat, a nose, and a mouth. The toy was invented and developed by George Lerner in...

 is an American toy that consists of a plastic potato and attachable plastic parts such as ears and eyes to make a face. It was the first toy ever advertised on television.

See also

  • List of potato museums
  • New World crops
    New World Crops
    The phrase "New World Crops" is usually used to describe crops that were native to North and South America before 1492 and not found anywhere else in the world at that time...

  • Potato battery
  • Loy
    Loy (spade)
    A loy is an early Irish spade with a long heavy handle made of ash, a narrow steel plate on the face and a single footrest. The word loy comes from the Gaelic word laí, which means spade...

    , a form of early spade used in Ireland
    Ireland
    Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

    for the cultivation of potatoes.

Further reading

  • The World Potato Atlas at Cgiar.org, released by the International Potato Center in 2006 and regularly updated. Includes current chapters of 15 countries:
    • South America: (English and Spanish): Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru
    • Africa: Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya
    • Eurasia: Armenia, Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Tajikistan
    • 38 others as brief "archive" chapters
    • Further information links at Cgiar.org.
  • World Geography of the Potato at UGA.edu, released in 1993.
  • Reference for potato history: The Vegetable Ingredients Cookbook by Christine Ingram, Lorenz Books, 1996 ISBN 1-85967-264-7
  • The History and Social Influence of the Potato by Redcliffe N. Salaman ISBN 0-521-31623-5
  • Hamilton, Andy & Dave, (2004), Potatoes: Solanum tuberosums retrieved on 4 May 2005
  • Gauldie, Enid (1981). The Scottish Miller 1700–1900. Pub. John Donald. ISBN 0-85976-067-7.

External links