Updated: Feb 3
Garden spuds certainly are treasures from the ground and worth digging for!
Roasted, steamed, mashed, fried or baked: potatoes are simply yummy! Heeded for the belly fat and adored for the palate, it’s a love and hate story... There is something comforting with the cooked “pommes de terres” (ground apple) as they are always appetizing and satisfying! These root vegetables originate from the Americas. Antoine Parmentier, a French pharmacist and agronomist promoted the potato as edible food throughout Europe to end famine at the end of the 18th century. Potatoes are now one of the essential staple foods in the entire world. They contain good sources of vitamins and minerals, especially unpeeled, but also, as we all know: carbs. Depending on how they are cooked and the quantity consumed, they can have a negative effect nutritionally. Potatoes also have a potential toxicity if exposed to light, causing them to turn green (better to discard any affected parts) and need to be first cooked to swell the starch granules. I love my organic freshly harvested “patates” (commonly called in Québec) or “spuds” (as I often hear in Australia). The little new ones don’t store as long as the matured and cured ones so I always use those first. My favourite way to cook them is sliced in the air fryer. A perfect side for BBQ meat and salads!
Airfried coloured potatoes • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2019-20
GROWING & COOKING TIPS
In a backyard garden, potatoes can be grown in a raised bed, planting bag or container. They might end up smaller or not as perfectly shaped as what you buy at the shop, but that’s totally fine, and they are still the best! Like all vegetables, I love cultivating unusual or heirloom varieties that differ from what is found at the supermarket. The purple and pink flesh ones are so stunning. Every summer we enjoy them on the side with BBQ meat, fish or in a quiche. If there is any leftover from a supper they can be pan-fried in the next morning’s brunch. The “patates rôties” (pan browned potatoes) are an essential element of a Canadian sugar shack style breakfast. Potatoes are involved in so many traditional Québec dishes, like the Pâté Chinois (shepherd’s pie), “Tourtières” (meat pies), potato candies, stews and of course the famous poutine. Potatoes were a daily ritual for my grandfather, they were his job and he was the best at it! In Australia, potatoes are popular on the side of a Sunday roast and stuffed, loaded or creamed in an oven-baked dish. Steamed or boiled is the best way if choosing a lower-in-fat option as a side, but you have to choose the right variety.
Growing and digging garden potatoes • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2020-22
One good tip learned while choosing varieties of spud seeds is that there are 3 types of potatoes: starchy, waxy and all-purpose. Starchy varieties don't hold moisture and break down when boiled, which makes them better for mashing. They are also the best ones for frying after being soaked in water to remove the excess starch. There are various ways to make French Fries (called hot chips in Australia like in Britain) and I'll always have a thing for the homemade-style ones, unlike the commercial frozen ones. Waxy potatoes have more moisture in the flesh and hold their shape when cooked. All purposes are versatile, so they are a good choice as can work well for everything. Potatoes add texture to a winter vegetable puree soup (like a roasted pumpkin or green soup) and also make delicious potato salads in summer. They can be purchased affordably and locally, and stored all year long so this is of course an essential ingredient for the home kitchen in any season.
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