50 Facts About Potatoes

Potatoes are a fundamental part of our diets. We boil them, roast them, bake them, chip them and fry them! Considering potatoes are so crucial to our meals it would be rude to pass on an opportunity to learn more about them. Read on to learn 50 facts about potatoes.

Fact 1: The Potato originates from Peru and Bolivia.

  • It was discovered between 8000 and 5000 BC.
  • The potato has since become a staple crop for many of us around the world.

Fact 2: The Potato is a vegetable.

  • They are part of the ‘nightshade’ vegetables.
  • Tomatoes and peppers are also part of the ‘nightshade’s’ group.

Fact 3: The Potato came to Europe around the 16th century.

  • It entered Spain in 1570.
  • The Humble potato entering the British Isles two decades later between the years of 1588-1593.

Fact 4: Potatoes are a dietary requirement.

  • If you cook your potatoes with the skin on, you’ll be getting plenty of potassium and vitamin C.
  • 100 grams of boiled potatoes will contain about 77% water.

Fact 5: Potatoes can be used all year round.

  • The only potatoes that cannot be used all year round are New potatoes.
  • An example of these potatoes is, Jersey Royal.

Fact 6: Certain varieties of potato should be cooked in a certain way.

  • King Edward potatoes are hardy and can be cooked in a variety of ways; boiled, roasted and mashed.
  • The Arran Pilot, are great for boiling and making jacket potatoes from.

Fact 7: Chips or French Fries are a common dish made from potatoes.

  • Thomas Jefferson was said to have had ‘potatoes served in the French manner’ way back in 1802!
  • There’s a large debate between countries on the name. Some countries call them ‘chips’, some say ‘French Fries’, others say ‘patat’.

Fact 8: If you say ‘chips’ in America they will give you crisps.

  • Crisps are a side dish created from potatoes.
  • The idea of thinly sliced potatoes deep-fried was invented in the UK in 1871.

Fact 9: You need to avoid odd-looking potatoes.

  • Torn, green and wrinkly potatoes should be avoided as they can be diseased or infected with bacteria.
  • If you use these potatoes you’re likely to be subjected to at best, a bitter taste in your mouth and, at worst, a pretty nasty bout of food poisoning!

Fact 10: Beneficial to your health.

  • Potatoes contain a lot of minerals and health benefiting compounds. These are useful in reducing a person’s blood pressure.  
  • The level of potassium in potatoes is also said to help those suffering from high blood pressure, as well as those with heart disease.

Fact 11: Potatoes should be washed with care.

  • When preparing your potatoes you should be careful not to damage the skin too much. Use a potato peeler where possible. Also, don’t bump them around otherwise they’ll bruise.
  • A lot of the potato’s’ nutrients are locked within the skin. Try and find creative ways to use potato skins in your meals.

Fact 12: Potatoes can make you healthier.

  • A 2007 study showed that eating potatoes with a piece of pork instead of rice or pasta helped reduce the number of calories men were consuming.
  • Another study showed that potatoes were the most filling type of carbohydrate.

Fact 13: The ‘Potato King’ is real.

  • Fredrick the Great, king of Prussia, is his real name.
  • He was responsible for extinguishing skepticism about the potato in Germany 1756. This paved the way for the potato to become a staple of the German diet.

Fact 14: An even healthier alternative to the potato is Sweet Potato.

  • This potato belongs to the bindweed family.
  • It is rather large in size, tastes sweet, and is orange in color!

Fact 15: The word potato has a Spanish origin.

  • ‘Patata’ is the original Spanish word for potato.
  • It widely used today in the ‘patatas bravas’ context. This is a native’s favorite dish in Spain.

Fact 16: China is responsible for growing the most potatoes; 88.99 million metric tons a year.

  • This is a staggering 22% of the world’s total potato production.
  • For comparison, India is the second-largest potato grower in the world at 45.34 million metric tons a year. That’s just over half of what China grows.

Fact 17: They must be stored in a cool, dark environment.

  • If potatoes are kept in light they turn green and sprout green shoots.
  • Storing potatoes in a paper bag also helps to keep them fresher for longer.

Fact 18: There was a European wide failure of potato crops.

  • In the mid-1840s, potatoes were struck down by a disease called the potato blight.
  • Many people starved because they didn’t have access to good potatoes in Scotland and Ireland.

Fact 19: There was a huge potato crop failure in Ireland called the Great Irish Potato Famine.

  • The Irish Potato Famine caused over a million people to die of starvation.
  • This spurred on a century-long decline in Ireland’s population that it’s still recovering from today.

Fact 20: There are Potato Museums.

  • Idaho Potato Museum is one example. It can be found in the town of Blackfoot. Check out the website here.   
  • The Canadian Potato Museum is another. It can be found in the quiet town of O’Leary on Prince Edward Island. Check out their website here too.

Fact 21: The average American eats about 124 pounds of potato a year.

  • Germans eat a staggering 250 pounds. That’s twice as much!
  • And China, though the biggest producer of potatoes in the world, only eats 103 pounds of potatoes per person.

Fact 22: The potato was not popular in Europe to begin with.

  • First, the potato wasn’t mentioned in the Bible. This meant that largely Christian and Catholic people of Europe avoided it.  
  • Second, people thought potatoes caused leprosy. Which, for the record, they don’t.

Fact 23: Growing underground protect potatoes from harm.

  • They are protected from insects and vermin that would otherwise eat them.  
  • They can stay underground for long periods of time and still be eaten.

Fact 24: Potato cultivation is growing every year.

  • In the early days of potato cultivation, Europe and North America were responsible for growing most potatoes.
  • But, since the 1990’s Asia, Africa and South America have also started growing huge amounts of potatoes.

Fact 25: French fries are really popular today.

  • Up to 29% of America’s potatoes go into making French fries.
  • McDonald’s uses up to 7% of this number.

Fact 26: The world’s biggest potato was grown by Peter Glazebrook. It weighed a massive 8lb 4oz.

  • Peter Glazebrook was an amateur gardener.
  • The potato won its title at the National Gardening Show, Shepton, Somerset.

Fact 27: Potatoes have been grown in space.

  • Seed plantation started in October 1995.
  • The techniques used by NASA to grow potatoes has answered the question of how to grow potatoes worldwide.

Fact 28: There are special machines that harvest potatoes.

  • 1969 was the year the first hand-propelled potato harvester was created.
  • These days, potato harvesters are self-propelled mini-factories that cost as much as $100,000.

Fact 29: There are more than 4000 varieties of potato for you to enjoy.

  • Each potato gets put into 1 of the 7 potato categories that were established.
  • The categories are; russet, red, white, yellow, blue/purple, fingerling and petite.

Fact 30: Potatoes can be frozen.

  • When you visit your supermarket take a look at the frozen potatoes. You can get; hash browns, wedges, slices, crinkles, and waffles.
  • Freezing potatoes allows for all of the nutrients to be locked inside.  

Fact 31: You can get instant potato mash.

  • Instant potatoes have been heavily industrialized. They have been cooked, mashed and dehydrated to get them into their packets.
  • When at home, stir boiling water into the desiccated potato powder to create instant potato mash.

Fact 32: Chips are actually made from white potatoes.

  • Though regarded as being unhealthy, Deep-fried chips are cooked in better oils these days to keep them as healthy as possible.
  • Leaving the skin on is a great way to lower the amount of fat that gets absorbed into the potato while it cooks. This helps keep them healthy.

Fact 33: British people love their chips but eat them in some odd ways.

  • People in Britain love to dunk their chips in a sauce or side. Gravy is a common one, with beans and tomato ketchup close behind.
  • Smothering chips in cheese is another way of eating them. It’s not uncommon to see a bag of chips covered in thick, gooey cheese on the British streets!

Fact 34: The ‘chip buttie’ is real.

  • This is a common meal eaten by holidaymakers in British seaside towns!
  • The sandwich-like meal consists of 2 slices of bread, smothered in tomato ketchup, with chips as the main filling.

Fact 35: Chips can be eaten at any time.

  • Although chips are thought of as a side to a meal, they are often eaten alongside a breakfast.
  • Hash browns and fried potatoes can often be found as part of the ‘good-old’ English breakfast. Lovely Jubbly!

Fact 36: The most mashed potato eaten was 598g in 30 seconds.

  • André Ortolf, from Germany, won the title in 2016.
  • André wolfed down masses of instant mash potato in this challenge.

Fact 37: Benjamin Franklin attended a banquet where the fare was to be paid in potatoes.

  • These potatoes were to be prepared in 20 different ways.
  • By doing this he extinguished some of the unpopular beliefs people had about potatoes.

Fact 38: ‘Potato pay’ bribery system is real.

  • This new currency is used between parents and children.
  • The system is used to bribe children to eat foods that they don’t want to eat.

Fact 39: British people love their crisps.

  • Britain’s favorite crisps are; Doritos, Walkers, and Pringles.
  • While their least favorites are; Jacobs Minis, Walkers Salt and Shake, Nik-Nacks and Squares.

Fact 40: The International Potato Centre, or CIP, was established in 1971.

  • This is a research and development organization that focuses on enhancing the availability of affordable and nutritious foods globally.  
  • So far, the CIP has helped over 5 million households in Asia and Africa receive nutritious foods.

Fact 41: There are myths surrounding the potato.

  • First, hanging a dried potato around the neck was said to cure rheumatism.
  • Second, a peeled potato kept in a pocket was said to cure toothache.

Fact 42: Potatoes were a dessert.

  • Potatoes were once served as desserts in the 18th century.
  • The potatoes would be heated, then either salted, sugared or both, and finally, served.

Fact 43: You can make potato ice cream!

  • Potato ice cream is a vegan dish.
  • The ice cream is said to have half the calories a normal ice cream contains.

Fact 44: Potato racing.

  • In the 19th century, people would climb onto a horse or run around on foot trying to find potatoes.
  • People still play these games today.

Fact 45: The Queen gave Sir Walter Raleigh lands in Ireland to farm potatoes.

  • He was given 40,000 acres of land.
  • This event is so famous that some potatoes today are called Irish potatoes because of the contribution made by Sir Raleigh.

Fact 46: Marie Antoinette wore potatoes in her hair.

  • This sparked interest amongst the Parisians, who started doing the same.
  • Even Louis XVI wore a potato in his buttonhole, to encourage farmers to grow more potatoes.

Fact 47: Gold miners would trade gold for potatoes.

  • They believed that potatoes cured scurvy, and were prized food because of it.
  • Today, a medium-sized potato would be worth a fortune by these standards.

Fact 48: Mr. Potato Head is a famous plastic toy that can be decorated.

  • He was created in 1952.
  • He is married to Mrs. Potato Head in the Toy Story movies.

Fact 49: Some potato varieties are hard to come by.

  • In Britain, it is difficult to find Lady Christl, Dunbar Rover, and Mr. Little’s Yetholm Gypsy.
  • You may be able to find them at special farming events, or even at a specialized farm.

Fact 50: American’s like to keep their potatoes simple.

  • 28% like them mashed.
  • 25% like them baked.

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