South Africans love potatoes. Fact. Potato salad is the archetypal side-dish for braais. Our fish-and-chips shops would be nothing without “slaptjips”, slathered with salt and vinegar, and wrapped in thick paper. Apart from being a staple food, these humble tubers have also found their way into fine dining.
In fact, it seems the rest of the world is equally cray cray about a good tattie. More than a billion people worldwide eat potatoes, which come in different shapes, sizes and colours. Most people don’t even notice the difference, but in South African homes you’ll find three types of potatoes: waxy, waxy-floury and floury. Understanding which type works best for a dish on tonight’s menu may become a bit tricky if you’re not clued up.
THE LOW-DOWN ON THESE SPUDS
Waxy potatoes have a high moisture and low starch content. If you’re considering boiling, this spud will stay firm and keep its shape. It is ideal for any dish where you don’t want the potato to break up, such as a potato salad. These taters are not suitable for cooking in a microwave or mashing, but if you love lekka “slaptjips” it’s perfect.
The waxy-floury potato – weirdly enough, also known as the Bianca – is somewhat moist with a slightly floury feel. When cooking this tuber it will hold its form and can be used for all cooking methods. These murphys are commonly available in stores.
Floury potatoes have a low moisture content and a high starch content. If you love a warm buttery mash these taters are faultless because they do not retain their shape when boiled. This potato is also most likely to sing, “I want to be a Simba chippie” because they work best for crisps and roast potatoes. Crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside.
Baked, fried, mashed or boiled, potatoes all day, every day. This, however, gets “complicated” when you need to consider the nutritional value, health benefits or if it’s just going to sit on your hips.
According to the 11 Food Based Dietary Guidelines (FBDG) of South Africa, we are advised to make starchy foods the basis of most meals and it’s hard to beat the potato. Approximately 100 grams of boiled, fresh potato with its skin provides as much as 354 kilojoules of energy. Keeping all of this in mind definitely makes meal times with the family a lot easier when you have countless recipes to choose from.
POTATOES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEART
According to Potatoes SA potatoes can actually improve your heart health. A potato’s fibre, vitamin C, vitamin B6 content, potassium, coupled with its lack of cholesterol all support heart health.
Furthermore, potatoes contain more potassium than any other vegetable. There’s also new evidence that these spuds might actually help reduce inflammation and constipation, plus it boasts several minerals and plant compounds that may help lower your blood pressure.
* For interesting recipes and creative ways to get those spuds to work for you check out potatonation.co.za