We've teamed up with Countdown to bring you everything you need to know about potatoes, along with recipes, how to find the perfect potato for the job and why they are so good for you.
Potatoes are a powerhouse providing energy, goodness and of course amazing taste either eaten as part of a family meal or enjoyed on their own; yes we're thinking perfectly cooked potato chips. Available all year round, potatoes are the underground tuber of the potato plant and belong to the same family as tomatoes, capsicum and eggplant. The word potato comes from the Spanish word potata, which is maybe why you will always find a potato in traditional Spanish omelettes . Plus here's a fun fact, did you know that the humble spud is almost as famous as Neil Armstrong as it was the first vegetable grown in space on board the space shuttle Columbia in 1995!
Where they grow and how to store them
Grown throughout New Zealand, most potatoes come from Pukekohe, Levin, Ohakune and Kaitaia. Some producers sell them fresh, while others process them into frozen chips or potato crisps. At Countdown potatoes are available washed or as brushed potatoes, which still have a light covering of soil. But whichever way you choose to buy them, it's really important to store them at home in a cool, dark place where they will stay in tip-top condition for 2-6 weeks.
Watch Dacey Balle, a potato grower whose family has farmed in the Pukekohe area since 1919 and see how he produces around 200 tonnes of potatoes for Countdown each week.
Are you thinking of ways to reduce food waste? Even though we normally see potatoes looking smooth and regular in shape, there's nothing wrong with their taste if they look slightly odd. Countdown offer Odd Bunch bags of potatoes in store, so pick up a bag as they help reduce waste and will save you money!
Which spud to use
Waxy potatoes are Countdowns biggest seller as they are low in starch which means they hold their shape exceptionally well, making them perfect for salads like this stunning chorizo, haloumi and potato salad or this simple new potato salad with easy mint pesto dressing . Waxy potatoes are also brilliant in casserole and soups when you don't want them disappearing into the dish. Try our chicken and potato casserole which includes the spring crunch of asparagus or this beef and potato casserole, a delicious flavour-filled family dish. If you are after a vegetarian meal in a bowl, make this hearty vegetable soup with couscous, which is both satisfying and healthy. Some great choices when shopping for waxy potatoes are the Perla, Little Digger, Draga, Firsia, Jersey Benne and Nadine varieties.
Thinking of roasting, crispy homemade chips or mashing your spuds? Then you'll probably want to choose a floury variety such as the Red Rascal, Agria, Fianna or Ilam Hardy. These fellows have more starch and less moisture than other potatoes, giving them that wonderful crumbly texture for making the perfect roast potato or creamy textured mash! They are also your best buddies when making wedges, so buy some floury spuds and create takeaways at home with this amazing recipe for crumbed fish, with homemade wedges and tartare sauce.
If you are looking for a general purpose potato to see you right in almost any dish, you can't go far wrong with the versatile Rua, Desiree, Moonlight or Karaka varieties. Not too floury or too waxy, they'll work in almost any recipe. We've rounded up a few of our favourites including this Tuna potato bake, an Indian marsala vegetarian curry and these healthy Mexican stuffed potatoes that will have you swooning!
So good for you
If we haven't already convinced you to get cooking with potatoes, here are some more reasons. Loaded with potassium, niacin and vitamin C, New Zealanders get 30% of their vitamin C requirements from potatoes! Eat them with their skins on for added fibre, especially if they are red or purple varieties as they contain the same powerful antioxidant found in berries called anthocyanin. The yellow-fleshed varieties are rich in beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A when consumed. Who knew chips were so good for you?