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For other uses, see Potato (disambiguation). nally referred to a type of sweet potato although the two
Spud redirects here. For other uses, see Spud (disam- plants are not closely related; in many of the chronicles
biguation). detailing agriculture and plants, no distinction is made
between the two.[14] The 16th-century English herbal-
ist John Gerard used the terms bastard potatoes and
The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial
nightshade Solanum tuberosum. The word potato may Virginia potatoes for this species, and referred to sweet
[2] potatoes as common potatoes. Potatoes are occa-
refer either to the plant itself or to the edible tuber.
In the Andes, where the species is indigenous, there sionally referred to as Irish potatoes or white potatoes
are some other closely related cultivated potato species. in the United States, to distinguish them from sweet pota-
Potatoes were introduced outside the Andes region ap- toes.
proximately four centuries ago,[3] and have since become The name spud for a small potato comes from the dig-
an integral part of much of the worlds food supply. It ging of soil (or a hole) prior to the planting of potatoes.
is the worlds fourth-largest food crop, following maize, The word has an unknown origin and was originally (c.
wheat, and rice.[4] The green leaves and green skins of 1440) used as a term for a short knife or dagger, proba-
tubers exposed to the light are toxic. bly related to Dutch spyd or the Latin spad-" a word root
Wild potato species can be found throughout the Amer- meaning sword"; cf. Spanish espada, English spade
icas from the United States to southern Chile.[5] The and spadroon. The word spud traces back to the 16th
potato was originally believed to have been domesti- century. It subsequently transferred over to a variety of
cated independently in multiple locations,[6] but later ge- digging tools. Around 1845, the name transferred to the
netic testing of the wide variety of cultivars and wild tuber itself.[16] The origin of the word spud has erro-
species proved a single origin for potatoes in the area neously been attributed to a 19th-century activist group
dedicated to keeping the potato out of Britain, calling it-
of present-day southern Peru and extreme northwest-
ern Bolivia (from a species in the Solanum brevicaule self The Society for the Prevention of an Unwholesome
Diet (S.P.U.D.).[16] It was Mario Pei's 1949 The Story of
complex), where they were domesticated approximately
7,00010,000 years ago.[7][8][9] Following centuries of Language that can be blamed for the words false origin.
Pei writes, the potato, for its part, was in disrepute some
selective breeding, there are now over a thousand dif-
ferent types of potatoes.[8] Over 99% of the presently centuries ago. Some Englishmen who did not fancy pota-
toes formed a Society for the Prevention of Unwholesome
cultivated potatoes worldwide descended from varieties
that originated in the lowlands of south-central Chile, Diet. The initials of the main words in this title gave rise
which have displaced formerly popular varieties from the to spud. Like most other pre-20th century acronymic
Andes.[10][11] origins, this is false.[16]

However, the local importance of the potato is variable

and changing rapidly. It remains an essential crop in
Europe (especially eastern and central Europe), where
2 Characteristics
per capita production is still the highest in the world,
but the most rapid expansion over the past few decades
has occurred in southern and eastern Asia. As of 2007
China led the world in potato production, and nearly a
third of the worlds potatoes were harvested in China and

1 Etymology

The English word potato comes from Spanish patata (the

name used in Spain). The Spanish Royal Academy says
the Spanish word is a compound of the Tano batata and
the Quechua papa (potato).[13] The name potato origi- Flowers of a potato plant


3 Genetics
There are about 5,000 potato varieties worldwide. Three
thousand of them are found in the Andes alone, mainly
in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, and Colombia. They
belong to eight or nine species, depending on the tax-
onomic school. Apart from the 5,000 cultivated vari-
eties, there are about 200 wild species and subspecies,
many of which can be cross-bred with cultivated vari-
eties. Cross-breeding has been done repeatedly to trans-
Russet potatoes
fer resistances to certain pests and diseases from the gene
pool of wild species to the gene pool of cultivated potato
species. Genetically modied varieties have met pub-
Potato plants are herbaceous perennials that grow about lic resistance in the United States and in the European
60 cm (24 in) high, depending on variety, with the leaves Union.
dying back after owering, fruiting and tuber forma- The major species grown worldwide is Solanum tubero-
tion. They bear white, pink, red, blue, or purple owers sum (a tetraploid with 48 chromosomes), and modern
with yellow stamens. In general, the tubers of varieties varieties of this species are the most widely cultivated.
with white owers have white skins, while those of vari- There are also four diploid species (with 24 chromo-
eties with colored owers tend to have pinkish skins.[17] somes): S. stenotomum, S. phureja, S. goniocalyx, and
Potatoes are mostly cross-pollinated by insects such as S. ajanhuiri. There are two triploid species (with 36
bumblebees, which carry pollen from other potato plants, chromosomes): S. chaucha and S. juzepczukii. There
though a substantial amount of self-fertilizing occurs as is one pentaploid cultivated species (with 60 chromo-
well. Tubers form in response to decreasing day length, somes): S. curtilobum. There are two major subspecies
although this tendency has been minimized in commer- of Solanum tuberosum: andigena, or Andean; and tubero-
cial varieties.[18] sum, or Chilean.[21] The Andean potato is adapted to the
short-day conditions prevalent in the mountainous equa-
torial and tropical regions where it originated; the Chilean
potato, however, native to the Chilo Archipelago, is
adapted to the long-day conditions prevalent in the higher
latitude region of southern Chile.[22]
The International Potato Center, based in Lima,
Peru, holds an ISO-accredited collection of potato
germplasm.[23] The international Potato Genome Se-
quencing Consortium announced in 2009 that they had
achieved a draft sequence of the potato genome.[24]
The potato genome contains 12 chromosomes and 860
million base pairs, making it a medium-sized plant
genome.[25] More than 99 percent of all current varieties
of potatoes currently grown are direct descendants of
Potato plants a subspecies that once grew in the lowlands of south-
central Chile.[26] Nonetheless, genetic testing of the wide
variety of cultivars and wild species arms that all
After owering, potato plants produce small green fruits potato subspecies derive from a single origin in the area
that resemble green cherry tomatoes, each containing of present-day southern Peru and extreme northwest-
about 300 seeds. Like all parts of the plant except the ern Bolivia (from a species in the Solanum brevicaule
tubers, the fruit contain the toxic alkaloid solanine and complex).[7][8][9]
are therefore unsuitable for consumption. All new potato Most modern potatoes grown in North America arrived
varieties are grown from seeds, also called true potato through European settlement and not independently from
seed, TPS or botanical seed to distinguish it from the South American sources, although at least one wild
seed tubers. New varieties grown from seed can be potato species, Solanum fendleri, is found as far north
propagated vegetatively by planting tubers, pieces of tu- as Texas, where it is used in breeding for resistance to a
bers cut to include at least one or two eyes, or cuttings, a nematode species that attacks cultivated potatoes. A sec-
practice used in greenhouses for the production of healthy ondary center of genetic variability of the potato is Mex-
seed tubers. Plants propagated from tubers are clones of ico, where important wild species that have been used
the parent, whereas those propagated from seed produce extensively in modern breeding are found, such as the
a range of dierent varieties. hexaploid Solanum demissum, as a source of resistance

to the devastating late blight disease.[27] Another relative

native to this region, Solanum bulbocastanum, has been
used to genetically engineer the potato to resist potato
Potatoes yield abundantly with little eort, and adapt
readily to diverse climates as long as the climate is cool
and moist enough for the plants to gather sucient wa-
ter from the soil to form the starchy tubers. Potatoes do
not keep very well in storage and are vulnerable to molds
that feed on the stored tubers and quickly turn them rot-
ten, whereas crops such as grain can be stored for several
years with a low risk of rot. The yield of Calories per Potato yield in producing countries, 2000
acre (about 9.2 million) is higher than that of maize (7.5
million), rice (7.4 million), wheat (3 million), or soybean
(2.8 million).[29] 5 Role in world food supply

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United

Nations reports that the world production of potatoes
in 2013 was about 368 million tonnes.[34] Just over two
thirds of the global production is eaten directly by hu-
mans with the rest being fed to animals or used to pro-
4 History duce starch. This means that the annual diet of an av-
erage global citizen in the rst decade of the 21st cen-
tury included about 33 kg (or 73 lb) of potato.[4] How-
Main article: History of the potato ever, the local importance of potato is extremely vari-
able and rapidly changing. It remains an essential crop
in Europe (especially eastern and central Europe), where
The potato was rst domesticated in the region of per capita production is still the highest in the world,
modern-day southern Peru and extreme northwestern but the most rapid expansion over the past few decades
Bolivia[7] between 8000 and 5000 BC.[8] It has since has occurred in southern and eastern Asia. As of 2007,
spread around the world and become a staple crop in China led the world in potato production, and nearly a
many countries. third of the worlds potatoes were harvested in China and
The earliest archaeologically veried potato tuber re- India.[12] The geographic shift of potato production has
mains have been found at the coastal site of Ancon (cen- been away from wealthier countries toward lower-income
tral Peru), dating to 2500 BC.[30][31] areas of the world, although the degree of this trend is
According to conservative estimates, the introduction of
the potato was responsible for a quarter of the growth In 2008, several international organizations highlighted
in Old World population and urbanization between 1700 the potatos role in world food production, in the face of
and 1900.[32] Following the Spanish conquest of the Inca developing economic problems. They cited its potential
Empire, the Spanish introduced the potato to Europe in derived from its status as a cheap and plentiful crop that
the second half of the 16th century. The staple was sub- grows in a wide variety of climates and locales.[36]
sequently conveyed by European mariners to territories
and ports throughout the world. The potato was slow
to be adopted by distrustful European farmers, but soon
5.1 International Year of the Potato
enough it became an important food staple and eld crop
that played a major role in the European 19th century
population boom.[9] However, lack of genetic diversity, Main article: International Year of the Potato
due to the very limited number of varieties initially intro-
duced, left the crop vulnerable to disease. In 1845, a plant Due to perishability, only about 5% of the worlds potato
disease known as late blight, caused by the fungus-like crop is traded internationally; its minimal presence in
oomycete Phytophthora infestans, spread rapidly through world nancial markets contributed to its stable pric-
the poorer communities of western Ireland, resulting in ing during the 20072008 world food price crisis.[37][38]
the crop failures that led to the Great Irish Famine.[27] Thus, the United Nations ocially declared 2008 as
Thousands of varieties still persist in the Andes however, the International Year of the Potato,[39] to raise its pro-
where over 100 cultivars might be found in a single val- le in developing nations, calling the crop a hidden
ley, and a dozen or more might be maintained by a single treasure.[40] This followed the International Rice Year
agricultural household.[33] in 2004.

6 Nutrition of each of these grains may be dierent from the values

reported in this table.
The potato contains vitamins and minerals, as well as an
assortment of phytochemicals, such as carotenoids and
natural phenols. Chlorogenic acid constitutes up to 90%
6.2 Toxicity
of the potato tuber natural phenols. Others found in
potatoes are 4-O-caeoylquinic acid (crypto-chlorogenic
acid), 5-O-caeoylquinic (neo-chlorogenic acid), 3,4-
dicaeoylquinic and 3,5-dicaeoylquinic acids.[41] A
medium-size 150 g (5.3 oz) potato with the skin provides
27 mg of vitamin C (45% of the Daily Value (DV)), 620
mg of potassium (18% of DV), 0.2 mg vitamin B6 (10%
of DV) and trace amounts of thiamin, riboavin, folate,
niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc.
The potato is best known for its carbohydrate content (ap-
proximately 26 grams in a medium potato). The predom-
inant form of this carbohydrate is starch. A small but
signicant portion of this starch is resistant to digestion
by enzymes in the stomach and small intestine, and so
reaches the large intestine essentially intact. This resistant
starch is considered to have similar physiological eects Early Rose variety seed tuber with sprouts
and health benets as ber: It provides bulk, oers
protection against colon cancer, improves glucose toler- Potatoes contain toxic compounds known as
ance and insulin sensitivity, lowers plasma cholesterol and glycoalkaloids, of which the most prevalent are solanine
triglyceride concentrations, increases satiety, and possi- and chaconine. Solanine is also found in other plants
bly even reduces fat storage.[42][43][44] The amount of re- in the family Solanaceae, which includes such plants
sistant starch in potatoes depends much on preparation as the deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), henbane
methods. Cooking and then cooling potatoes signi- (Hyoscyamus niger), tobacco (Nicotiana), as well as
cantly increases resistant starch. For example, cooked eggplant and tomato.
potato starch contains about 7% resistant starch, which These compounds, which protect the plant from its preda-
increases to about 13% upon cooling.[45] tors, are, in general, concentrated in its leaves, stems,
The storage and cooking method used can signicantly sprouts, and fruits.[51] In a summary of several stud-
aect the nutrient availability of the potato.[46][47] ies, the glycoalkaloid content was highest in owers and
sprouts and lowest in the tuber esh (in order from high-
Potatoes are often broadly classied as high on the
est to lowest content, generally: owers, sprouts, leaves,
glycemic index (GI) and so are often excluded from the
skin, roots, berries, peel [skin plus outer cortex of tu-
diets of individuals trying to follow a low-GI diet. In fact,
ber esh], stems, and tuber esh).[52] Exposure to light,
the GI of potatoes can vary considerably depending on
physical damage, and age increase glycoalkaloid content
type (such as red, russet, white, or King Edward), origin
within the tuber.[53] Cooking at high temperaturesover
(where it was grown), preparation methods (i.e., cook-
170 C (338 F)partly destroys these. The concen-
ing method, whether it is eaten hot or cold, whether it
tration of glycoalkaloid in wild potatoes suces to pro-
is mashed or cubed or consumed whole, etc.), and with
duce toxic eects in humans. Glycoalkaloids may cause
what it is consumed (i.e., the addition of various high-fat
headaches, diarrhea, cramps, and in severe cases coma
or high-protein toppings).[48]
and death; however, poisoning from potatoes occurs very
In the UK, potatoes are not considered by the NHS as rarely. Light exposure causes greening from chlorophyll
counting towards the recommended daily ve portions of synthesis, thus giving a visual clue as to areas of the tuber
fruit and vegetables.[49] that may have become more toxic; however, this does not
provide a denitive guide, as greening and glycoalkaloid
accumulation can occur independently of each other. Va-
6.1 Comparison to other major staple rieties contain dierent levels of glycoalkaloids. Lenape
foods was released in 1967 but was withdrawn in 1970 as it con-
tained high levels of glycoalkaloids.[54] Since then breed-
The following table shows the nutrient content of potato ers developing new varieties test for this, and sometimes
and other major staple foods, each in respective raw form. have to discard an otherwise promising cultivar.
Staple foods are not commonly eaten raw and are usually Breeders try to keep solanine levels below 200 mg/kg
sprouted or cooked before eating. In sprouted and cooked (200 ppmw). However, when these commercial vari-
form, the relative nutritional and anti-nutritional contents eties turn green, they can still approach concentrations of

The toxic fruits produced by mature potato plants

Potato eld in Fort Faireld, Maine

solanine of 1000 mg/kg (1000 ppmw). In normal pota-

toes, analysis has shown solanine levels may be as little
as 3.5% of the breeders maximum, with 7187 mg/kg
being found.[55] While a normal potato has 1220 mg/kg
of glycoalkaloid content, a green tuber contains 250280
mg/kg, and green skin 15002200 mg/kg.[56]
The U.S. National Toxicology Program suggests that the
average American consumes at most 12.5 mg/day of
solanine from potatoes (the toxic dose is actually sev-
eral times this, depending on body weight). Douglas L.
Holt, the State Extension Specialist for Food Safety at
the University of Missouri, notes that no reported cases
of potato-source solanine poisoning have occurred in the
U.S. in the last 50 years, and most cases involved eating
green potatoes or drinking potato-leaf tea. Potatoes grown in a tall bag are common in gardens as they min-
imize the amount of digging required at harvest

7 Growth and cultivation

potatoes.[57] These locations are selected for their cold
hard winters that kill pests and long sunshine hours in the
summer for optimum growth. In the UK, most seed pota-
toes originate in Scotland in areas where westerly winds
prevent aphid attack and thus prevent spread of potato
virus pathogens.[58] Potato growth has been divided into
ve phases. During the rst phase, sprouts emerge from
the seed potatoes and root growth begins. During the sec-
ond, photosynthesis begins as the plant develops leaves
and branches. In the third phase stolons develop from
lower leaf axils on the stem and grow downwards into
the ground and on these stolons new tubers develop as
swellings of the stolon. This phase is often (but not al-
ways) associated with owering. Tuber formation halts
when soil temperatures reach 27 C (81 F); hence pota-
toes are considered a cool-season crop.[59] Tuber bulk-
Potato planting ing occurs during the fourth phase, when the plant be-
gins investing the majority of its resources in its newly
Potatoes are generally grown from seed potatoes these formed tubers. At this stage, several factors are critical
are tubers specically grown to be disease free and pro- to yield: optimal soil moisture and temperature, soil nu-
vide consistent and healthy plants. To be disease free, trient availability and balance, and resistance to pest at-
the areas where seed potatoes are grown are selected tacks. The nal phase is maturation: The plant canopy
with care. In the USA this restricts production of seed dies back, the tuber skins harden, and their sugars con-
potatoes to only 15 states out of the 50 states that grow vert to starches.[60]

New tubers may arise at the soil surface. Since exposure fer skinning damage during harvest and handling opera-
to light leads to greening of the skins and the develop- tions. Curing allows the skin to fully set and any wounds
ment of solanine, growers cover such tubers. Commer- to heal. Wound-healing prevents infection and water-loss
cial growers achieve this by piling additional soil around from the tubers during storage. Curing is normally done
the base of the plant as it grows (hilling, or in British at relatively warm temperatures 50 to 60 F (10 to 16
English earthing up). An alternative method used by C) with high humidity and good gas-exchange if at all
home gardeners and smaller-scale growers involves cov- possible.[61]
ering the growing area with organic mulches such as straw
or plastic sheets.[60]
Correct potato husbandry can be an arduous task in some
circumstances. Good ground preparation, harrowing,
plowing, and rolling are always needed, along with a lit-
tle grace from the weather and a good source of wa-
ter. Three successive plowings, with associated harrow-
ing and rolling, are desirable before planting. Eliminating
all root-weeds is desirable in potato cultivation. In gen-
eral, the potatoes themselves are grown from the eyes of
another potato and not from seed. Home gardeners often
plant a piece of potato with two or three eyes in a hill of
mounded soil. Commercial growers plant potatoes as a
row crop using seed tubers, young plants or microtubers
and may mound the entire row. Seed potato crops are
'rogued' in some countries to eliminate diseased plants or Potato plant prior to harvest.
those of a dierent variety from the seed crop.
Potatoes are sensitive to heavy frosts, which damage them
7.1 Storage
in the ground. Even cold weather makes potatoes more
susceptible to bruising and possibly later rotting, which
Storage facilities need to be carefully designed to keep the
can quickly ruin a large stored crop.
potatoes alive and slow the natural process of decomposi-
At harvest time, gardeners usually dig up potatoes with tion, which involves the breakdown of starch. It is crucial
a long-handled, three-prong grape (or graip), i.e., a that the storage area is dark, well ventilated and for long-
spading fork, or a potato hook, which is similar to the term storage maintained at temperatures near 4 C (39
graip but with tines at a 90 angle to the handle. In larger F). For short-term storage before cooking, temperatures
plots, the plow is the fastest implement for unearthing of about 7 to 10 C (45 to 50 F) are preferred.[62][63]
potatoes. Commercial harvesting is typically done with
On the other hand, temperatures below 4 C (39 F)
large potato harvesters, which scoop up the plant and sur-
convert potatoes starch into sugar, which alters their
rounding earth. This is transported up an apron chain
taste and cooking qualities and leads to higher acrylamide
consisting of steel links several feet wide, which separates
levels in the cooked product, especially in deep-fried
some of the dirt. The chain deposits into an area where
dishesthe discovery of acrylamides in starchy foods in
further separation occurs. Dierent designs use dier-
2002 has led to many international health concerns as they
ent systems at this point. The most complex designs use
are believed to be possible carcinogens and their occur-
vine choppers and shakers, along with a blower system to
rence in cooked foods is currently under study as a possi-
separate the potatoes from the plant. The result is then
ble inuence in potential health problems.[lower-alpha 1][64]
usually run past workers who continue to sort out plant
material, stones, and rotten potatoes before the potatoes Under optimum conditions possible in commercial ware-
are continuously delivered to a wagon or truck. Further houses, potatoes can be stored for up to ten to twelve
inspection and separation occurs when the potatoes are months. When stored in homes, the shelf life is usu-
unloaded from the eld vehicles and put into storage. ally only a few weeks.[63] If potatoes develop green ar-
eas or start to sprout, these areas should be trimmed be-
Immature potatoes may be sold as new potatoes and are
fore using.[63] Trimming or peeling green areas are inad-
particularly valued for taste. These are often harvested by
equate to remove copresent toxins, and such potatoes are
the home gardener or farmer by grabbling, i.e. pulling
no longer suitable as animal food.[65][66]
out the young tubers by hand while leaving the plant in
place. Commercial storage of potatoes involves several phases:
drying of surface moisture; a wound healing phase at 85%
Potatoes are usually cured after harvest to improve skin-
to 95% relative humidity and temperatures below 25 C
set. Skin-set is the process by which the skin of the
(77 F); a staged cooling phase; a holding phase; and a
potato becomes resistant to skinning damage. Potato tu-
reconditioning phase, during which the tubers are slowly
bers may be susceptible to skinning at harvest and suf-
warmed. Mechanical ventilation is used at various points
7.3 Varieties 7

during the process to prevent condensation and accumu-

lation of carbon dioxide.[62]

7.2 Yield

The world dedicated 18.6 million hectares in 2010 for

potato cultivation. The average world farm yield for
potato was 17.4 tonnes per hectare, in 2010. Potato farms
in the United States were the most productive in 2010,
with a nationwide average of 44.3 tonnes per hectare.[67]
United Kingdom was a close second.
New Zealand farmers have demonstrated some of the best
commercial yields in the world, ranging between 60 and
80 tonnes per hectare, some reporting yields of 88 tonnes Organically grown Russet Burbanks
potatoes per hectare.[68][69][70]
There is a big gap among various countries between high lows (also called Yukons) and purplesbased on com-
and low yields, even with the same variety of potato. Av- mon characteristics. Around 80 varieties are commer-
erage potato yields in developed economies ranges be- cially available in the UK.[74] For culinary purposes, va-
tween 3844 tonnes per hectare. China and India ac- rieties are often dierentiated by their waxiness. Floury,
counted for over a third of worlds production in 2010, or mealy (baking) potatoes have more starch (2022%)
and had yields of 14.7 and 19.9 tonnes per hectare than waxy (boiling) potatoes (1618%). The distinction
respectively.[67] The yield gap between farms in devel- may also arise from variation in the comparative ratio of
oping economies and developed economies represents an two potato starch compounds: amylose and amylopectin.
opportunity loss of over 400 million tonnes of potato, or Amylose, a long-chain molecule, diuses from the starch
an amount greater than 2010 world potato production. granule when cooked in water, and lends itself to dishes
Potato crop yields are determined by factors such as the where the potato is mashed. Varieties that contain a
crop breed, seed age and quality, crop management prac- slightly higher amylopectin content, a highly branched
tices and the plant environment. Improvements in one molecule, help the potato retain its shape when boiled.[75]
or more of these yield determinants, and a closure of the
The European Cultivated Potato Database (ECPD) is an
yield gap, can be a major boost to food supply and farmer
online collaborative database of potato variety descrip-
incomes in the developing world.[71][72]
tions, updated and maintained by the Scottish Agricul-
tural Science Agency within the framework of the Eu-
ropean Cooperative Programme for Crop Genetic Re-
7.3 Varieties
sources Networks (ECP/GR)which is run by the Inter-
national Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI).[76]
Further information: List of potato cultivars
While there are close to 4,000 varieties of potato, it Popular varieties (cultivars) include:

7.3.1 Blue varieties

Bamberg potatoes

has been bred into many standard or well-known vari-

eties, each of which has particular agricultural or culi-
nary attributes.[73] In general, varieties are categorized
into a few main groups, such as russets, reds, whites, yel- Potato variety Blue Swede

The blue or purple potato originated in South Amer- teins to be made, but rather prevent proteins from being
ica. It has purple skin and esh, which becomes blue made via RNA interference.[90][91][92]
once cooked. It has a slight whitish scab that seems to be
present in all samples. The variety, called Cream of the
Crop, has been introduced into Ireland and has proved 9 Pests
popular.[80] To preserve the purple color best, microwav-
ing is the best way to cook it; however, it can also be baked
Main article: List of potato diseases
and steamed. The purple or blue potato tends to have a
The historically signicant Phytophthora infestans (late
more nutty avor than its relatives of other colors.[81]
A mutation in the varieties P locus causes production of
the antioxidant anthocyanin.[82]

8 Genetically engineered potatoes

Main article: Genetically engineered potato

Genetic research has produced several genetically modi-

ed varieties. 'New Leaf', owned by Monsanto Company,
incorporates genes from Bacillus thuringiensis, which
confers resistance to the Colorado potato beetle; 'New
Leaf Plus and 'New Leaf Y', approved by US regula- A potato ruined by late blight
tory agencies during the 1990s, also include resistance
to viruses. McDonalds, Burger King, Frito-Lay, and blight) remains an ongoing problem in Europe[27][93]
Procter & Gamble announced they would not use genet- and the United States.[94] Other potato diseases include
ically modied potatoes, and Monsanto published its in- Rhizoctonia, Sclerotinia, black leg, powdery mildew,
tent to discontinue the line in March 2001.[83] powdery scab and leafroll virus.
Waxy potato varieties produce two main kinds of potato Insects that commonly transmit potato diseases or dam-
starch, amylose and amylopectin, the latter of which is age the plants include the Colorado potato beetle, the
most industrially useful. The German chemical company potato tuber moth, the green peach aphid (Myzus per-
BASF created the Amora potato, which has been mod- sicae), the potato aphid, beet leafhoppers, thrips, and
ied to contain antisense against the enzyme that drives mites. The potato cyst nematode is a microscopic worm
synthesis of amylose, namely granule bound starch syn- that thrives on the roots, thus causing the potato plants
thase.[84] This resulting potato almost exclusively pro- to wilt. Since its eggs can survive in the soil for several
duces amylopectin, and thus is more useful for the starch years, crop rotation is recommended.
industry. In 2010, the European Commission cleared the
way for 'Amora' to be grown in the European Union for
industrial purposes onlynot for food. Nevertheless, un- 9.1 Pesticides
der EU rules, individual countries have the right to de-
cide whether they will allow this potato to be grown on During the crop year 2008, many of the certied or-
their territory. Commercial planting of 'Amora' was ganic potatoes produced in the United Kingdom and cer-
expected in the Czech Republic and Germany in the tied by the Soil Association as organic were sprayed with
spring of 2010, and Sweden and the Netherlands in sub- a copper pesticide[95] to control potato blight (Phytoph-
sequent years.[85] Another GM potato variety developed thora infestans).[96] According to the Soil Association,
by BASF is 'Fortuna' which was made resistant to late the total copper that can be applied to organic land is 6
blight by adding two resistance genes, blb1 and blb2, kg/ha/year.[97]
which originate from the Mexican wild potato Solanum According to an Environmental Working Group analy-
bulbocastanum.[86][87] In October 2011 BASF requested sis of USDA and FDA pesticide residue tests performed
cultivation and marketing approval as a feed and food from 2000 through 2008, 84% of the 2,216 tested potato
from the EFSA. In 2012, GMO development in Europe samples contained detectable traces of at least one pesti-
was stopped by BASF.[88][89] cide. A total of 36 unique pesticides were detected on
In November 2014, the USDA approved a genetically potatoes over the 2,216 samples, though no individual
modied potato developed by J.R. Simplot Company, sample contained more than 6 unique pesticide traces,
which contains genetic modications that prevent bruis- and the average was 1.29 detectable unique pesticide
ing and produce less acrylamide when fried than conven- traces per sample. The average quantity of all pesticide
tional potatoes; the modications do not cause new pro- traces found in the 2,216 samples was 1.602 ppm. While
10.1 Culinary uses 9

this was a very low value of pesticide residue, it was the

highest amongst the 50 vegetables analyzed.[98]

10 Uses
Potatoes are used to brew alcoholic beverages such
as vodka, potcheen, or akvavit.

They are also used as food for domestic animals.

Potato starch is used in the food industry as, for ex-

ample, thickeners and binders of soups and sauces,
in the textile industry, as adhesives, and for the man-
ufacturing of papers and boards.[99][100]

Maine companies are exploring the possibilities of

using waste potatoes to obtain polylactic acid for
use in plastic products; other research projects seek
ways to use the starch as a base for biodegradable

Potato skins, along with honey, are a folk remedy

for burns in India. Burn centers in India have exper-
imented with the use of the thin outer skin layer to
protect burns while healing.[102][103]

Potatoes (mainly Russets) are commonly used in

plant research. The consistent parenchyma tissue, Various potato dishes
the clonal nature of the plant and the low metabolic
activity provide a very nice model tissue for exper-
imentation. Wound-response studies are often done
on potato tuber tissue, as are electron transport ex-
fried (home fries); grated into small thin strips and fried
periments. In this respect, potato tuber tissue is sim-
(hash browns); grated and formed into dumplings, Rsti
ilar to Drosophila melanogaster, Caenorhabditis el-
or potato pancakes. Unlike many foods, potatoes can
egans and Escherichia coli: they are all standard
also be easily cooked in a microwave oven and still retain
research organisms. nearly all of their nutritional value, provided they are cov-
ered in ventilated plastic wrap to prevent moisture from
Potatoes have been delivered with personal-
escaping; this method produces a meal very similar to a
ized messages as a novelty. Potato delivery
steamed potato, while retaining the appearance of a con-
services include Potato Parcel and Mail A
ventionally baked potato. Potato chunks also commonly
appear as a stew ingredient.
Potatoes are boiled between 10 and 25[108] minutes, de-
10.1 Culinary uses pending on size and type, to become soft.

See also: List of potato dishes

Potatoes are prepared in many ways: skin-on or peeled,

whole or cut up, with seasonings or without. The only 10.1.1 Grading
requirement involves cooking to swell the starch gran-
ules. Most potato dishes are served hot, but some are In the U.S., potato grading for Idaho potatoes is per-
rst cooked, then served cold, notably potato salad and formed in which No. 1 potatoes are the highest quality
potato chips/crisps. and No. 2 are rated as lower in quality due to their appear-
Common dishes are: mashed potatoes, which are rst ance (e.g. blemishes or bruises, pointy ends).[109] Potato
boiled (usually peeled), and then mashed with milk density assessment can be performed by oating them in
or yogurt and butter; whole baked potatoes; boiled or brines.[110] High-density potatoes are desirable in the pro-
steamed potatoes; French-fried potatoes or chips; cut duction of dehydrated mashed potatoes, potato crisps and
into cubes and roasted; scalloped, diced, or sliced and french fries.[110]
10 10 USES

Papa rellena A baked potato served with butter

10.1.2 Latin America

Sunday roast, and mashed potatoes form a major compo-
nent of several other traditional dishes such as shepherds
Peruvian cuisine naturally contains the potato as a pri-
pie, bubble and squeak, and bangers and mash. New
mary ingredient in many dishes, as around 3,000 vari-
[111] potatoes are often cooked with mint and served with a
eties of this tuber are grown there. Some of the more
little melted butter.
notable dishes include boiled potato as a base for several
dishes or with aj-based sauces like in Papa a la Huancana The Tattie scone is a popular Scottish dish containing
or ocopa, diced potato for its use in soups like in cau cau, potatoes. Colcannon is a traditional Irish food made with
or in Carapulca with dried potato (papa seca). Smashed mashed potato, shredded kale or cabbage, and onion;
condimented potato is used in causa Limea and papa rel- champ is a similar dish. Boxty pancakes are eaten
lena. French-fried potatoes are a typical ingredient in Pe- throughout Ireland, although associated especially with
ruvian stir-fries, including the classic dish lomo saltado. the north, and in Irish diaspora communities; they are tra-
ditionally made with grated potatoes, soaked to loosen the
Chuo is a freeze-dried potato product traditionally made
starch and mixed with our, buttermilk and baking pow-
by Quechua and Aymara communities of Peru and
der. A variant eaten and sold in Lancashire, especially
Bolivia,[112] and is known in various countries of South
Liverpool, is made with cooked and mashed potatoes.
America, including Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile.
In Chiles Chilo Archipelago, potatoes are the main in- Bryndzov haluky is the Slovakian national dish, made of
gredient of many dishes, including milcaos, chapaleles, a batter of our and nely grated potatoes that is boiled
curanto and chochoca. In Ecuador, the potato, as well as to form dumplings. These are then mixed with regionally
being a staple with most dishes, is featured in the hearty varying ingredients.[113]
locro de papas, a thick soup of potato, squash, and cheese.

10.1.3 European cuisine

German Bauernfrhstck
Fish and chips
In Germany, Northern and Eastern Europe, especially
In the UK, potatoes form part of the traditional staple sh in Scandinavian countries, Poland, Russia, Belarus and
and chips. Roast potatoes are commonly served with a Ukraine, newly harvested, early ripening varieties are
10.1 Culinary uses 11

considered a special delicacy. Boiled whole and served 10.1.4 North America
un-peeled with dill, these new potatoes are tradition-
ally consumed with Baltic herring. Puddings made from
grated potatoes (kugel, kugelis, and potato babka) are
popular items of Ashkenazi, Lithuanian, and Belarusian
cuisine.[114] German fries and various version of Potato
salad are part of German cuisine. Bauernfrhstck (lit-
erally Farmers breakfast) is a warm German dish made
from fried potatoes, eggs, ham and vegetables.

French fries served with a hamburger


Cepelinai is Lithuanian national dish. They are a type

of dumpling made from riced potatoes (see Potato ricer)
and usually stued with minced meat, although some-
times dry cottage cheese (curd) or mushrooms are used
instead.[115] In Western Europe, especially in Belgium,
sliced potatoes are fried to create frieten, the original
French fried potatoes. Stamppot, a traditional Dutch
meal, is based on mashed potatoes mixed with vegeta- Poutine: Fried potatoes, cheese curds, and gravy
In the United States, potatoes have become one of the
In France, the most notable potato dish is the Hachis most widely consumed crops and thus have a variety of
Parmentier, named after Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, a
preparation methods and condiments. French fries and
French pharmacist, nutritionist, and agronomist who, in often hash browns are commonly found in typical Amer-
the late 18th century, was instrumental in the acceptance
ican fast-food burger joints and cafeterias. One popu-
of the potato as an edible crop in the country. The pt lar favorite involves a baked potato with cheddar cheese
aux pommes de terre is a regional potato dish from the
(or sour cream and chives) on top, and in New Eng-
central Allier and Limousin regions. land smashed potatoes (a chunkier variation on mashed
In the north of Italy, in particular, in the Friuli re- potatoes, retaining the peel) have great popularity. Potato
gion of the northeast, potatoes serve to make a type of akes are popular as an instant variety of mashed pota-
pasta called gnocchi.[116] Similarly, cooked and mashed toes, which reconstitute into mashed potatoes by adding
potatoes or potato our can be used in the Kndel or water, with butter or oil and salt to taste. A regional
dumpling eaten with or added to meat dishes all over cen- dish of Central New York, salt potatoes are bite-size new
tral and Eastern Europe, but especially in Bavaria and potatoes boiled in water saturated with salt then served
Luxembourg. Potatoes form one of the main ingredi- with melted butter. At more formal dinners, a common
ents in many soups such as the vichyssoise and Albanian practice includes taking small red potatoes, slicing them,
potato and cabbage soup. In western Norway, komle is and roasting them in an iron skillet. Among American
popular. Jews, the practice of eating latkes (fried potato pancakes)
A traditional Canary Islands dish is Canarian wrinkly is common during the festival of Hanukkah.
potatoes or papas arrugadas. Tortilla de patatas (potato A traditional Acadian dish from New Brunswick is known
omelete) and patatas bravas (a dish of fried potatoes in as poutine rpe. The Acadian poutine is a ball of grated
a spicy tomato sauce) are near-universal constituent of and mashed potato, salted, sometimes lled with pork in
Spanish tapas. the center, and boiled. The result is a moist ball about
12 11 ART

the size of a baseball. It is commonly eaten with salt and

pepper or brown sugar. It is believed to have originated
from the German Kle, prepared by early German set-
tlers who lived among the Acadians.
Poutine, by contrast, is a hearty serving of French fries,
fresh cheese curds and hot gravy. Tracing its origins to
Quebec in the 1950s, it has become a widespread and
popular dish throughout Canada.

10.1.5 South Asia

In South Asia, Potato is very popular traditional staple.

In India, the most popular potato dishes are aloo ki sabzi, The Potato Harvest by Jean-Franois Millet, 1855 (Walters Art
batata vada, and samosa, which is spicy mashed potato Museum)
mixed with a small amount of vegetable stued in conical
dough, and deep fried. Potatoes are also a major ingredi-
ent as fast food items, such as aloo chaat, where they are
deep fried and served with chutney. In Northern India,
alu dum and alu paratha are a favorite part of the diet;
the rst is a spicy curry of boiled potato, the second is a
type of stued chapati.
A dish called masala dosa from South India is very no-
table all over India. It is a thin pancake of rice and pulse
paste rolled over spicy smashed potato and eaten with
sambhar and chutney. Poori in south India in particular in
Tamil Nadu is almost always taken with smashed potato
masal. Other favorite dishes are alu tikki and pakoda
Vada pav is a popular vegetarian fast food dish in Mumbai
and other regions in the Maharashtra in India. The Potato Eaters by Van Gogh, 1885 (Van Gogh Museum)
Aloo posto (a curry with potatoes and poppy seeds)
is immensely popular in East India, especially Bengal.
Although potatoes are not native to India, it has be-
come a vital part of food all over the country especially 11 Art
North Indian food preparations. In Tamil Nadu this tu-
ber acquired a name based on its appearance 'urulai-k-
kizhangu' ( ) meaning cylindrical tuber. The potato has been an essential crop in the Andes since
The Aloo gosht, Potato and meat curry, is one of the pop- the pre-Columbian Era. The Moche culture from North-
ular dishes in South Asia, especially in Pakistan. ern Peru made ceramics from earth, water, and re.
This pottery was a sacred substance, formed in signif-
icant shapes and used to represent important themes.
Potatoes are represented anthropomorphically as well as
10.1.6 East Asia
During the late 19th century, numerous images of potato
In East Asia, particularly Southeast Asia, rice is by far harvesting appeared in European art, including
the works
the predominant starch crop, with potatoes a secondary of Willem Witsen and Anton Mauve. Van Gogh's
crop, especially in China and Japan. However, it is used 1885 painting The Potato Eaters portrays a family eating
in northern China where rice is not easily grown, with a potatoes.
popular dish being (qng jio t du s), made Invented in 1949 and marketed and sold commercially
with green pepper, vinegar and thin slices of potato. In by Hasbro in 1952, Mr. Potato Head is an American toy
the winter, roadside sellers in northern China will also sell that consists of a plastic potato and attachable plastic parts
roasted potatoes. It is also occasionally seen in Korean such as ears and eyes to make a face. It was the rst toy
and Thai cuisines.[117] ever advertised on television.[121]

12 See also [10] Miller, N (29 January 2008). Using DNA, scientists
hunt for the roots of the modern potato. American As-
List of potato museums sociation for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved 10
September 2008.
Loy, a form of early spade used in Ireland for the
[11] Ames, M.; Spooner, D. M. (February 2008). DNA
cultivation of potatoes.
from herbarium specimens settles a controversy about
New World crops origins of the European potato. American Journal of
Botany. 95 (2): 252257. doi:10.3732/ajb.95.2.252.
Potato battery PMID 21632349.

Potatoes of Chilo [12] Potato world. FAO. 2008. Retrieved 21 December

Irish potato candy
[13] Real Academia Espaola. Diccionario Usual (in Span-
Sweet Potato ish). Buscon.rae.es. Retrieved 16 July 2010.

[14] Weatherford, J. McIver (1988). Indian givers: how the In-

dians of the Americas transformed the world. New York:
13 Notes Fawcett Columbine. p. 69. ISBN 0-449-90496-2.

[1] See text: acrylamides, esp introduction; acrylamide was [15] J. Simpson; E. Weiner, eds. (1989). potato, n. Oxford
accidentally discovered in foods in April 2002 by scien- English Dictionary (2nd ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press.
tists in Sweden when they found the chemical in starchy ISBN 0-19-861186-2.
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2004; ISBN 0-19-517284-1

[17] Tony Winch (2006). Growing Food: A Guide to Food

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Zuckerman, Larry. The Potato: How the Humble Potato Information & Exchange
Spud Rescued the Western World. (1998). 304 pp.
Douglas & McIntyre. ISBN 0-86547-578-4. GMO Safety: Genetic engineering on potatoes Bio-
logical safety research projects and results

International Year of the Potato 2008

15 Further reading
Solanum tuberosum (potato, papas): life cycle, tu-
ber anatomy at GeoChemBio
Bohl, William H.; Johnson, Steven B., eds. (2010).
Commercial Potato Production in North Amer- Potato Genome Sequencing Consortium
ica: The Potato Association of America Handbook
(PDF). Second Revision of American Potato Jour- Potato storage and value Preservation: Pawanexh
nal Supplement Volume 57 and USDA Handbook Kohli, CrossTree techno-visors.
267. The Potato Association of America.
Potato, in Cyclopedia of American Agriculture
"'Humble' Potato Emerging as Worlds Next Food
Source. column. Japan. 11 May 2008. p. 20.
|rst1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
Spooner, David M.; McLean, Karen; Ram-
say, Gavin; Waugh, Robbie; Bryan, Glenn J.
(October 2005). A single domestication for
potato based on multilocus amplied fragment
length polymorphism genotyping. Proc. Natl.
Acad. Sci. USA. 102 (41): 1469414699.

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17.1 Text 19

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