If there is one veggie that almost everyone likes (if not loves), it has to be a potato. Potatoes are amazing – they blend with any and every other ingredient. You can make several standalone recipes that are simply mouthwatering. There are several varieties of them, and every culture uses potatoes in its unique way. Let us learn some tantalizing potato facts today.
Species: S. tuberosum
Potato Facts 1-10
1. The word ‘potato’ originated from the Spanish word ‘patata.’ As per Royal Spanish Academy, the word patata is a hybrid of Taíno language’s ‘batata,’ meaning sweet potato and Quechua language’s ‘papa’ meaning potato.
2. The word potato earlier meant sweet potato. Potato was earlier also known as spud.
3. The potato plants are perennials (a plant that lives for more than two years). They grow nearly about 60 centimeters or 24 inches in length. They grow at the height of 4,000 meters above sea level.
4. The plants bore different colored flowers like white, blue, purple, red, and pink. Mostly bumblebees cross-pollinate potato plants.
5. The plants produce small fruits that are green in color. They resemble cherry tomatoes. Each fruit has around 300 seeds.
6. Worldwide, there are 5,000 cultivated potato varieties! Three thousand of them are present only in the Andes.
7. These 5,000-cultivated-varieties aside, there are around 200 wild species of potatoes. The most popular variety of potato is Solanum tuberosum.
8. The records of domestication of potato date back to somewhere between 8,000 to 5,000 BCE. It was domesticated in present-day Peru and Bolivia.
9. The earliest archaeological evidence of potato tuber was found in Peru’s Ancon. It dates back to 2500 BCE.
10. The most common potato variety in the world, Solanum tuberosum, is native of Chiloé Archipelago, and it was cultivated by the native people there before Spaniards spread the vegetable.
Potato Facts 11-20
11. The potato was the primary energy source for the natives of the area near the Andes. Spanish explorers introduced potatoes to Europe in the 16th century.
12. The potato was cultivated heavily by European farmers. From Europe, it spread to Asian countries.
13. In 2018, the world produced a whopping 368 million tons of potatoes. Producing 98.3 million tons, China is the top producer of potatoes. India, with 48.5 million tons of produce, comes second.
14. Other top producers of potatoes are Russia, Ukraine, and the United States.
15. Incas used potatoes for wound healing, preventing indigestion, healing broken bones, etc. They even used potato plants as a motif in their weaving designs and pottery.
16. United Nations declared 2008 as “The Year of the Potato.”
17. Mr. Potato Head is a famous tuber toy. It was invented in 1952. It is also the first toy to have its commercial on television.
18. Mr. Potato Head featured in all three Toy Story movies.
19. According to a 2018 study, if a person eats French fries more than twice in 7 days, his/her likelihood of dying doubles!
20. One of the famous paintings to feature a potato is Potato Eaters of Van Gough. The picture shows farmers in potato colored clothes and skin and eating potatoes.
Potato Facts 21-30
21. It may be unbelievable, but each packet of Lay’s chips contains four to five potatoes.
22. The inventor of Lay’s is H.W. Lay. He was a salesman. He wanted to make more money, and he started selling chips from his car in the 1930s.
23. Did you know that potato has almost all the nutrients that we need?
24. Potato contains 79% water, 17% carbs, 2% protein, and very little fat. Potato is known only for its carbohydrates, but it is very high in vitamin B6 and vitamin C. It also contains small amounts of Calcium, Potassium, Iron, Sodium, dietary fiber, sugars, etc.
25. For long term storage, potatoes have to be maintained at 4 degrees Celsius. For short-term storage, the temperature range of 7 to 10 degrees Celsius is good enough to store potatoes.
26. Other than using in cooking, potatoes are used in several ways. They are used to brew vodka, akvavit, etc.
27. Potato skins dipped in honey are used to soothe burns in India. Potatoes are like mice of plants. Like mice, potatoes are used for plant research as a potato provides a model tissue for experimentation. American Journal of Potato Research present in the USA researches on potatoes.
28. Companies in Maine are using waste potatoes to produce polylactic acid, which is used in plastic products.
29. Other companies are trying to use potato starch to make biodegradable packaging.
30. The starch of potato is used as a thickener in soups and sauces, as adhesive in the textile industry, in making boards and paper. It is also used in oil drilling.
Potato Facts 31-40
31. The potatoes are used as fodder for livestock.
32. Wash potatoes just before eating or cooking. Washing them beforehand causes early rotting of potatoes.
33. The largest potato ever to be grown weighed over 7 lbs. It was grown by J. Busby and J. East of the United Kingdom. The first vegetable to grow in space is potatoes in 1995. NASA partnered with the University of Wisconsin to achieve this feat.
34. An acre of potato crop can feed ten people. American eats around 124 pounds of potatoes each year. Germans eat about 250 pounds of potatoes. Irish people eat 120 kilos of potatoes a year, and Italians suffice with just 30 kilograms of potatoes.
35. Idaho is the potato state of the United States of America. However, Idaho didn’t grow potatoes till 1836. There is a potato museum as well in Idaho. It opened in 1913.
36. Earlier varieties of potatoes suffered from a lot of diseases. One such disease which destroyed acres of the crop is potato blight. Potato blight destroyed several acres of crop yield in the 1840s, which eventually caused the Irish Potato Famine. A million people died of starvation due to this famine.
37. The USA was introduced to potatoes in 1621 when the governor of Bermuda sent chests of veggies to the governor of Jamestown.
38. Thomas Jefferson was the person who brought French fries from France to the USA after the Revolutionary War.
39. Antonine-Augustin Parmentier was the person who introduced potatoes to France. He was in Prussian prison for three years, probably on an only-potato diet (he was in good health). After three years, he took this veggie with him. To make potato famous in France, he hired guards to guard the potato farm and instructed them to take bribe and allow people to steal potatoes.
40. Marie Antoinette, the French Queen, received a bouquet of potato flowers. She made them a fashion trend by wearing the flowers on her clothes.
Potato Facts 41-50
41. Green potatoes are exposed to light, and they can be poisonous.
42. There is a hybrid plant called ‘tomtato’ that produces both tomatoes and potatoes.
43. Inca people worshipped Goddess of potatoes. Each village used to have an odd-looking potato that was worshipped to give a bountiful harvest.
44. Poisoning of potatoes causes coma, paralysis, and even hallucinations that go on for days. If not treated, it may also cause death.
45. Many people think that sweet potato and potato are closely related, but they belong to different families. On the other hand, tomatoes and potatoes belong to the same family and are closely related.
46. Potato chips were invented out of rage. Chef George Crum created this lip-smacking snack (if you may say so) in 1853 in New York. Railroad mogul Cornelius Vanderbilt used to frequent the hotel where Crum worked. He never liked the fat potato slices and sent them back to the kitchen. This enraged chef, and he cut the potato as thinly as he could and fried them. Voila, potato chips were invented, and guess what Vanderbilt loved potato chips.
47. Pringle’s company created the largest potato chip crisp in 1990 in Tennessee.
49. In the Alaskan Klondike gold rush that took place in the 1890s, potatoes were very pricy and had high value. Sometimes, they were traded for gold.
50. In the year 1778, a small war took place between Australia and Prissioa over potatoes. Each country wanted to starve the other country by stealing potatoes.
Potato Facts 51-60
51. The second most consumed food in the USA is potatoes. The first place goes to milk.
52. Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada was the one who introduced potatoes to the European continent in 1550. Sir Walter Raleigh popularized it in 1585.
53. After wheat, corn, and rice, the fourth most produced staple is potato.
54. Every day a billion people eat a potato.
55. There are two National Potato Days. One on 19 August and the other one on 27 October.
56. Purple potato variety is seen to lower blood pressure and prevent heart diseases. Potatoes are essential to maintain the overall nervous system’s overall health as they contain high amounts of vitamin B6.
57. Eating potatoes can reduce stress, depression, most probably Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), enhances memory and learning. Vitamin C helps in reducing inflammation and increasing immunity. Dietary fiber aids in digestion and prevents constipation (if you eat potato peels).
59. Many people say and believe that the only-potato diet is proper and is healthy. However, dieticians and doctors don’t recommend such a diet. It can be disastrous for people with diabetes, and even for healthy people, blood sugar levels may drop, causing weight gain and, in some severe cases, poisoning.
60. Baking a potato is the best way to eat it as it loses a meager amount of nutrients while baking. The next best option is to steam them, and cooking comes third. Whichever way you are cooking, try to eat the skin as it has more nutrients than the tuber.