Potato is an annual plant in the nightshade family (Solanaceae), grown for its starchy edible tubers.
Potatoes were domesticated approximately between 8000 and 5000 BC.
The earliest archaeologically verified potato tuber remains have been found at the coastal site of Ancon (central Peru), dating to 2500 BC.
They were largely cultivated by the Incas as early as 1,800 years ago.
Encountered by the invading Spaniards, potatoes were introduced into Europe during the second half of the 16th century.
By the end of the 17th century the plant was a major crop in Ireland, and by the end of the 18th century it was a major crop in continental Europe, particularly Germany, and in the west of England. It continued to spread, in both Western and Eastern hemispheres.
In order to popularize potatoes in France, Antoine-Augustin Parmentier placed armed guards around his potato fields, instructing the guards to accept all bribes and allow people to “steal” the crop.
Great Famine, also called Irish Potato Famine that occurred in Ireland in between 1845 and 1849 when the potato crop failed in successive years. The crop failures were caused by late blight, a disease that destroys both the leaves and the edible roots, or tubers, of the potato plant.
United States of America was the last major country who adopted potato in their cuisine. For many years they regarded this crop for horses and other animals. Only after the 1872 efforts of famous horticulturist Luther Burbank (1849-1926), American potato industry managed to gain some traction.
In 20th century, potato became accepted across entire world as one of the most beloved and produced food sources, effectively becoming the most essential crop of Europe.
There are about 5,000 varieties of potato including common commercial varieties, each of which has specific agricultural or culinary attributes. They belong to eight or nine species, depending on the taxonomic school.
Potatoes can grow from sea level up to 4,700 meters (15,420 feet) above sea level.
Potato plants are herbaceous perennials that grow about 60 centimeters (24 inches) high. Depending on variety, with the leaves dying back after flowering, fruiting and tuber formation. They bear white, pink, red, blue, or purple flowers with yellow stamens. The fruit is a small poisonous berry with numerous seeds.
In general, the tubers of varieties with white flowers have white skins, while those of varieties with colored flowers tend to have pinkish skins.
The potato has variable shape and size, usually ranging in weight up to 300 grams (10 ounces) but occasionally to more than 1.5 kg (3.3 pounds).
The heaviest potato weighs 4.98 kg (10 lb 14 oz) and was grown by Peter Glazebrook (UK). It was weighed at the National Gardening Show at the Royal Bath & West Showground in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, UK, on 4 September 2011.
Potato is consisted for 20% solids and 80% of water!
There are 77 calories in 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of potatoes.
Potatoes are a very good source of vitamin B6 and a good source of potassium, copper, vitamin C, manganese, phosphorus, niacin, dietary fiber and pantothenic acid.
The health benefits of potatoes include improve digestion, reduce cholesterol levels, boost heart health, protect from polyps, manage diabetes, strengthen the immune system, reduce signs of aging, protect the skin, increase circulation, reduce blood pressure, maintain fluid balance, reduce insomnia, and aid in eye care.
Potatoes can be cooked in many different ways including boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes, potato soup, baked potatoes, French fries, potato chips, hash browns and hasselback potatoes.
Potatoes are also used to brew alcoholic beverages such as vodka, potcheen, or akvavit.
The average American eats 63.5 kilograms (140 pounds) of potatoes per year. Germans are among biggest potato lovers as they eat more than 90 kilograms (200 pounds) of potato per year.
Each day over billion people eat at least one potato.
Vitelotte also called Vitelotte noire is a gourmet French variety of blue-violet potato. It has been cultivated in France at least since the early 19th century.
The “French fry” was allegedly served in the U.S. for the first time by Thomas Jefferson at a presidential dinner.
Potato chips are one of the most common snack foods in the world with billions of packets being consumed every year.
The word “potato” comes from the Spanish word patata.
Common or slang terms include tater, tattie and spud.
The importance of the potato as a food source and culinary ingredient varies by region and is still changing.
The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is another crop plant with large, starchy, tubers (from roots), but is only distantly related to the potato (Solanum tuberosum).