Did you know a medium-sized potato costs only about 25 cents? It also comes with built-in portion control and is free of fat and cholesterol. Potatoes also offer a good dose of Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, potassium and dietary fiber.
Good for both your waistline and your wallet, potatoes are a great base for many meals. Sure, there's always the old baked potato standby, but why not try something new? Keep reading to find out interesting ways you can use spuds -- from meal ideas to household tips.
Homemade Potato Chips
No need to pull out the deep fryer to enjoy the taste of fresh chips. You can bake yummy potato chips right in your oven and eliminate the grease. Just slice your potatoes thin, toss them with a bit of oil, arrange them on a baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake in a 400 degree oven until golden-brown. Put them on a rack to cool, and the chips will crisp. That's it!
Add your own seasonings to personalize your chips, too. Of course there's salt and pepper, but why not try something different? Chili powder, garlic powder, a little parmesan cheese -- the possibilities are endless. Just make sure you sprinkle your seasoning right after the chips come out of the oven. The chips need to be warm for the powder to adhere to the oil.
Some people even make potato chips in their microwaves. Just cook them on paper towels, stopping the microwave often to flip. Once the chips start browning, they're done!
Skordalia is a classic Greek appetizer. Made from potatoes and garlic, one traditionally serves skordalia with fish or beets. But it's also great for dipping or as a spread. Chunks of pita bread or raw veggies pair well with the garlicky dish.
Skordalia is simply mashed potatoes blended with crushed garlic (from seven cloves up to an entire head!), olive oil, vinegar and salt to taste. Some recipes add lemon juice as well. Traditionally, you would have mixed the ingredients together with a mortar and pestle. But today, feel free to use your food processor for a silky smooth puree.
We've seen many variations on the basic skordalia recipe. You can boost or change the flavor of your skordalia by adding things like almonds, walnuts, water-soaked bread and even spinach. Skordalia will keep in the fridge for about two days.
Did You Know? The average American eats 134 pounds (60.7 kilograms) of potatoes a year.
Potato Pancakes (Latkes)
Latkes are a staple during the celebration of Hanukkah. These potato pancakes are fried in oil, to commemorate the miracle of the oil that lit the Temple of Jerusalem for eight days in 168 B.C. The traditional oil is olive; Hanukkah occurs at the tail end of the oil-pressing season. However, you can enjoy latkes any time of year.
To make potato pancakes, shred some raw, clean potatoes and onions together. After pressing out the excess moisture in a colander, add beaten eggs, matzo meal (or flour), and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon some of the mixture into a hot skillet with about a half an inch (1.27 centimeters) of heated oil. Press into a pancake shape and fry until golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a paper towel to drain off the oil. Serve warm with sour cream and applesauce.
Even though you typically find it in the pasta section of your favorite Italian joint's menu, gnocchi is actually a potato dumpling. Pronounced "NYO-kee," it's made from potatoes, flour, egg and salt. Making gnocchi is a bit labor intensive but not too difficult. After cooking the potatoes, peel them while still warm. Next, run them through a ricer (or hand mash). Stir in flour, a bit of salt and a beaten egg to form dough. Knead the dough for a little while, and then roll out into a long sausage shape. Cut the roll into small pillow-like sections (about one inch, or 2.54 centimeters, long). Then simply drop them into salted, boiling water until they rise to the top (usually after about three minutes).
The best part about gnocchi? It's a blank canvas. Pair your gnocchi with just about any sauce -- tomato, pesto, brown butter and sage, or just a little bit of olive oil and salt.
Did You Know? President Thomas Jefferson introduced America to French fries when he first served them at the White House.
Potato Home Remedies
Sure, potatoes taste good but they're also good for you. And you don't even have to eat one to reap some of the benefits.
- If you have an unsightly wart, rub a cut raw potato on it. Potatoes are high in potassium and Vitamin C, which promotes healing.
- Need a hot compress? Potatoes hold heat well, so warm one up and wrap it in a dishcloth and presto -- a compress! You can make a cold compress, too. Just put the potato in the freezer for a while.
- If you accidentally burn yourself while cooking, gently press a piece of raw cut potato against the injury. The potato will soothe it and remove the sting.
- For a quick facial, mix some room temperature plain mashed potatoes with lemon juice and a little bit of milk. Leave on your face for about 20 minutes and then rinse off to reveal soft skin.
Potatoes Around the House
Potatoes also come in handy all around the house.
- If your child is interested in arts and crafts, make a potato stamp. Just cut a potato in half and carve out a shape. Give your child an inkpad and some paper, and watch the creativity flow.
- You can also use potatoes to help anchor flowers in arrangements. Slice off the bottom of the potato so it lies flat, then make some holes with a skewer. Insert flower stems in the holes and your flowers will stay upright.
- You can even use a potato as a safe way to change a busted lightbulb! If your bulb breaks off in the socket, press the cut surface of a potato into the sharp edges. Then simply unscrew the broken bulb with the potato.
Did You Know? The Inca people of Peru were the first people to cultivate potatoes, back around 200 B.C.
Potatoes are also a big help in the kitchen. Try some of these household tips using your extra spuds.
- Fresh berries taste great, but they wind up leaving stains all over your hands. Rubbing a slice of raw potato on the stains will get them right out. For stubborn stains, squirt some lemon juice on the potato, too. Rinse with tap water.
- If you accidentally over-salt your soup or stew, don't fret. Toss in a sliced up potato to help absorb the excess.
- Spruce up your dull silverware by cleaning it in potato water. Seriously! After you boil some potatoes, save the water. Soak your silverware in it for about an hour. Rinse with clean water and polish with a chamois. Good as new. [source: Jerome]
In potato bread, potato replaces a portion of the regular flour. This results in bread that not's only softer, but stays fresher longer and works well with wheat flour. (And don't worry, the bread doesn't really taste of potato.) The wheat flour benefit is a good one since many people are now trying to reduce the amount of white flour they eat each day.
You can make potato bread with these basic ingredients: water, flour, yeast, mashed potatoes, butter and salt. Spice up your bread by experimenting with adding herbs like rosemary or thyme, sunflower seeds, shredded cheese, diced onion or dill. Or go the sweet route by adding cinnamon, raisins, almonds or apples. The possibilities are endless.
Did You Know? A medium-sized potato contains only 110 calories. In comparison, one cup of rice has 225 and a cup of pasta has 155.
Homemade Potato Liquor
Potatoes also make a good base for vodka. Making liquor at home is a time-consuming process, but there's a nice payoff for the patient do-it-yourselfer. You'll need a pressure cooker and a home distiller. You can find either of these online or at any beer- or wine-making supply store, as well as recipes with specific instructions.
When making potato liquor, you're not really using the potatoes themselves -- just the potato water. The pressure cooker helps the potatoes dissolve into the cooking water, and you later strain any pieces of potato out. You should perform the distilling process several times to get a clean-tasting vodka. After your vodka is ready, you can flavor it any way you'd like by simply adding fruit right into the bottle or jar. Shake up the mixture every day. The longer you leave in the fruit, the sweeter and more flavorful your vodka will become. Cheers!
Potato Crust Pizza
You can even use potatoes to make a unique, tasty pizza crust. Here's a brief how-to.
- Scrub about 1.5 pounds of potatoes.
- In a small bowl, stir together a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of pepper and four teaspoons cornstarch.
- Slice up your potatoes. Make them thin -- use a food processor or mandoline.
- Put the potatoes in a bowl and sprinkle with half the cornstarch mixture. Gently stir to mix and then sprinkle on the rest.
- Brush a tablespoon of olive oil over your 12-inch (30.5-centimeter) pizza pan.
- Layer the potatoes on the pan in concentric circles. Make sure you cover the pan completely.
- Sprinkle some chicken broth over the potatoes and brush them with a bit more olive oil.
- Then, press down with your hands to compact the potatoes into a crust.
- Bake at 400 degrees until edges turn brown (20 to 30 minutes).
Your crust is ready! Remove it from the oven, add your favorite toppings -- for example pesto, grilled chicken and some feta cheese. Bake for another 10 minutes or so and enjoy.
[source: Idaho Potato Commission]
Are you looking for some salad recipes that save you money? Check out this article and get 5 salad recipes that save you money.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Botsacos, Jim. "Skordalia." Food & Wine. March 2002. http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/skordalia
- Christensen, Emma. "Recipe Recommendation: DIY Potato Chips...in the Microwave." The Kitchn. Sept. 25, 2008. http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/recipe-review/recipe-recommendation-diy-potato-chipsin-the-microwave-064078
- Glazer, Phyllis. "Latkes: The soul of Hanukkah tradition." Los Angeles Times. Dec. 17, 2008.http://www.latimes.com/features/food/la-fo-hanukkah17-2008dec17,0,5377460.story
- "Idaho Potato Commission." Idaho Potato Commission. 2009. http://www.idahopotato.com/
- "Idaho® Potato Crusted Pizza." Idaho Potato Commission. 2009. http://www.idahopotato.com/recipes/id-535/
- Jerome, Louie. "10 Extraordinarily Different Uses for Potatoes." Gomestic.com. March 20, 2008. http://www.gomestic.com/Homemaking/10-Extraordinarily-Different-Uses-for-Potatoes.95746
- "Potato Bread." A Year in Bread. May 31, 2007. http://ayearinbread.earthandhearth.com/2007/05/beth-potato-bread.html
- Sparks, Katie and Strong, Andrea. "My Homemade Potato Chips." Epicurious.com. 2006. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/My-Homemade-Potato-Chips-234557
- "Tater Tips." Idaho Potato Commission. 2009. http://www.idahopotato.com/tater_tips
- Wise, William N. "The History of Potatoes in Oregon." Dictionary of Oregon History. February 1996. http://www.oregonspuds.com/consumer/history.htm