Monday, June 7, 2010

Baked versus Mashed?

What team are you on? Baked or Mashed? My family would say mashed is the way to go and there is no other way. While I myself prefer a fluffy baked potato with creamy butter and sour cream. But who knows, Yankees or Red Soxs?This an age old battle that sadly has no clear winner.
Potatoes can be a bit mysterious and with the advent of hybrids choosing can be a daunting task. Did you know there really are no Idaho potatoes? The real story is that Idaho grows primarily Russet potatoes. So, when you see an Idaho potato know that it is really just a russet.

For our golden rule, K.I.S.S (keep it super simple) potatoes fall into two very distinct categories baking and boiling. The chief difference between the two is the starch. Baking potatoes have a high starch content called amylose starch, and boiling potatoes have a low starch called amylopectin, key word here is PECTIN this compound is what is used to make jams and jellies. So, when you want to make a soup, don't use a russet or baking potato, the result is a potato that breaks down and falls apart. Rather use a boiling potato or white potato(called in the grocery stores).
Cooking stats: a baking potato or a potato called a starchy potato has a dry mealy texture, but when cooked turns light and fluffy, these potatoes are high in starch and low in sugar and tend to be long and have coarse dimpled skins .VERSUS: the boiling potato or also called a waxy potato due largely in part to their waxy flesh. These potatoes are smooth and generally have thin skins. Boiling potatoes are low in starch and a favorite of my family.
These potatoes are the soup potatoes, the ones that make a great potato salad, you can barbecue them and never worry that they will lose their shape.
But what about these other characters that play a part in the battle? I call them the fence-riders. Yukon golds, Peruvian purple potatoes and New potatoes These potatoes are moist like a boiling potato and can be baked or fried and not fall apart in the cooking process.
Potatoes get a bum rap from our low-carb dieting friends, it does not mean they are bad for you. They are fat-free, cholesterol free, low in calories and sodium free. Rich in vitamin C and contains more potassium than a banana. A great antioxidant to repair the damaging effects of "free radicals", a good source of fiber and contains less than 10% of the daily allowance of carbohydrates. So what is all the fuss about? We over think diets and food. Just eat and be merry.
Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread and pumpkin pie.~Jim Davis


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