Look for firm, dry, well-formed potatoes, free from bruises, dark spots, cuts, cracks and sprouted eyes. Avoid potatoes greened by in-store fluorescent lights.
Potatoes are an excellent source of potassium, a good source of vitamin C and a source of fibre and folacin. Ontario sweet potatoes also contain fibre. They’re fat- and cholesterol-free and can replace regular potatoes in most recipes.
Ontario potatoes need to be scrubbed and checked for spots before using. Long varieties and Yukon Golds are great for baking, mashing and French-frying. Round whites and round reds are particularly good for boiling and steaming.
Store in root cellar or at 45 to 50°F
(7 to 10°C), out of direct light. (Light can cause potatoes to turn green and sprout.) Loosely cover with clean burlap or ventilated plastic and ensure good air circulation. All potatoes must be kept dry. Handle sweet potatoes with particular care as they bruise easily.
Ontario potatoes are classified as long, round whites, round reds, or sweet. Long potatoes are the most popular. Round whites are usually large, round or oval with light to medium skin. Round reds have rosy red, thin, glossy skins, but otherwise they’re similar to round whites. Sweet potato varieties grown in Ontario are Beauregard and Covington.
Along with tomatoes and squash, potatoes are native to South America. The potato was slow to be adopted by early settlers to North America. Potatoes helped save Ireland from famine in 1740, as well as Prussia in 1774. But Late Blight decimated the fresh potato crop in the 1840s and resulted in massive starvation and immigration to North America. The potato enabled cheap labour during the European industrial revolution as people could eat self-sufficiently on a relatively small piece of land.