Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Potatoes are the no. 1 selling vegetable in North America. A simple enough tuber that is cheap to produce and easy to grow.

It would probably surprise you to know that potato packers and manufacturers are some of the wealthiest people in the produce industry and the country.

Usually paying the farmer a pittance and reaping huge profits for themselves. Produce is a commodity and like the stock markets... prices change daily.

I have a lot of respect for farmers and I have spent years in the field inspecting produce. Farming is damn hard work.

Potatoes are generally graded into 4 categories, A's - Large, B's - Medium, C's - baby, and #2's - small, misshapened (I could get more technical but I want to keep it simple and easy to understand).

Potatoes you buy in the stores are usually A's - Large with a few B's mixed in to increase profits. B's cost much less so packers will sneak this grade into the bags. B's are very hard to sell because of their small size and they're a pain to peel. Usually they'll be mixed into #2 bags of potatoes.

When buying no. 1 grade potatoes they should be oval in shape, clean, and have eye appeal. There should be no knobs, pointy ends, scabs, broken scuffed skin, green skin, deformed or misshapen potatoes in the bag.

If the potato bag is colored to give the potatoes inside better eye appeal inspect the potatoes carefully. This is a sneaky practice to fool consumers. Place your fingers on the potatoes and squeeze they should be as hard as rocks. There shouldn't be any wrinkles or eyes. The best test is to smell them, if they're rotten it's the worst smell in the world. Ugghhhh!

Russet Potatoes are the same as a baker potato so if you can find a bag of big russets you can save yourself alot of money. Whites and russets are especially good for mashed potatoes.

Red Potatoes are denser and take a little longer to boil and are perfect for potato salad because they hold together better.

Yellow Potatoes take less time to cook (boiled water), only 20 minutes. These are usually more expensive and have more flavor.

Baby Potatoes or "Creamers" are extremely popular and it's not uncommon to pay $2/lb for packaged product. Quite a few potato packers put "B's" in the bags and pawn them off as baby. When preparing these babies it's a good idea to cut a few in half and check for black centers.

Purple Potatoes or "Blue" are very high in antioxidants and I highly recommend them. Also they take about 20 minutes longer to cook in boiling water because they have such dense flesh.

The quality of potatoes in bags has gone down over the past few years because of unscrupulous packers. You probably know what I'm talking about. The only way to correct this problem is to fill out a complaint card at the Customer Service counter at your local supermarket. Complaints are taken seriously and will be checked out by management. Make sure you include the Packer's name or the Brand.

I have alot of friends that are potato packers too lol, the bad ones make it hard for the good ones because they can undercut by putting lower grade and bad product in their bags. With centralized buying being the norm today Produce Buyers see a lot less of the products they're buying and bad suppliers slip through the cracks.

I've always found the "Green Giant" label to be one of the best produce brands and I recommend it. No paid endorsement! LOL!

If you've never seen this video before you will be absolutely AMAZED! The best part starts about 2:33 seconds into the clip...



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