Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Prepper's Pantry: Potatoes

Spud, tater, tatie, pirrie, earth apple, the gaffer's delight; whatever it's called, the common potato is an extremely versatile and tasty addition to any prepper's pantry.

Potatoes are believed to have originated in the area of present-day Peru and were first cultivated around 7,000–10,000 years ago. From there, the hardy spud worked its way up through the Americas and across the Atlantic to Europe, where it was slow to be accepted by farmers at first, but eventually was embraced wholeheartedly. Potato recipes appear in nearly every cultural cuisine around the world.

Since they were first intentionally grown, potatoes have diverged considerably. According to various sources there are nearly 4,000 varieties of potatoes in cultivation around the world. These types are generally grouped based on common characteristics, such as skin type, skin color, and texture.

With proper storage, potatoes can last a surprisingly long time, though they often get wrinkly after a while. Optimum conditions are around 50° Fahrenheit and 90 percent humidity. Due to this later element, one of the bigger concerns to watch out for in potato storage is mold. Also, don't store potatoes with onions, as this combination can encourage the potatoes to sprout.

Raw or green potatoes should be avoided due to the presence of the toxic compound glycoalkaloid. In higher concentrations it's known to cause headaches, diarrhea, and cramps, and in severe cases it can even cause coma and death.

Back in June of 2021, I shared a recipe for the potato-based Italian delicacy gnocchi. About a month later, I talked about pierogi. These are just two of the multitude of potato recipes that fill several cookbooks, such as this one or this one. Alongside rice, potatoes are one of the most versatile staples in world cuisine.

Potatoes are available fresh (of course) as well as in more shelf stable forms, such as dried flakes, powdered, and canned.

In addition to being eaten, potatoes are used for many other purposes, such as:

  • Alcoholic beverages (vodka, poitín, akvavit, and even some beers)
  • Livestock fodder
  • Manufacturing of papers and boards
  • Adhesives in textiles
  • Plant research (due to their genetic consistency)

There are even potato delivery services, including Potato Parcel and Mail A Spud. So whether you boil them, mash them, or put them in a stew, there are many ways to enjoy potatoes.

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