marywebBy Mary Tucker

Sunny days in April have turned thoughts to gardening and by coincidence I learned some interesting things about potatoes while reading an old Reader’s Digest that I rescued from the library discards.

Spanish explorers had found the potato cultivated in the highlands of Peru almost 200 years before they introduced the potato to Spain as a cheap food for peasants and slaves. From Spain, cultivation of potatoes spread through France and into Ireland where there was extreme poverty and any kind of food was a godsend. When the Irish immigrated to New England they brought with them a few jealously guarded seed potatoes, completing a long circuit from the old world to the new world for the humble potato.Picture1

There are many ways to cook potatoes. Listed are some of the best-liked ways: baked whole, oven roasted, scalloped, potato pancakes, hash browns, stuff potato in jacket, French fries. More healthy ways to cook potatoes are potato salad made with olive oil and vinegar, baked wedges brushed with olive oil, shredded and used in casseroles and muffins, diced, cooked added to omelets, frittatas, quiches, potato soup. Sweet potatoes can be added to curry, chili, stew or risotto.

Potatoes can be used in a number of amazing ways beside in cooking. To use as an anti-aging agent just washing your face daily, mixing raw finely ground potato with water prevents wrinkles, and makes your face glow. The same paste also relieves pain from burns on skin.

Raw sliced potato rubbed on temple gives you headache relief and placed on the eyes reduces tiredness of the eyes. Cut potato can remove glue from hands, and can be used to clean silverware, and as shoe polish. Using a cut potato and rubbing the cut side on eyeglasses can prevent glasses from fogging up in the early morning. I haven’t tried any of these suggestions so don’t know how well they work–it might be fun to try.

Some call potatoes Spuds (Some Potatoes Under Development) and wonder why and where the term originated. One theory is that the name comes from spudder, the shovel type of garden tool used to dig potatoes; another theory is that a spud is the wooden barrel used by sorters to separate potatoes by size. The size of the potato determines the use of potato.

Growing potatoes is not hard. If you have potatoes in your cupboard, cut them in chunks with an “eye” on each piece and plant about a foot apart, 4-5 inches deep. Cover with soil and watch them grow.

Using a dust available at garden shops you can control potato bugs, such as the Colorado beetle. Dig potatoes in the fall and store in a cool, dry place.

Potatoes, an amazing vegetable–or is it a fruit.? ~