At this time of year they often get forgotten about as barbecues and salads turn our heads, but the potato is still one of the most versatile ingredients out there, and it has a fascinating history too! Here are some of our favourite potato facts, which you can break out in almost any social occasion, trust us!
- Potatoes originated in Peru. Researchers estimate that potatoes were first cultivated by the Incas between 8,000 and 5,000 BC. Unlike many other foods, potatoes could be grown at the high altitudes of the Andean mountains and therefore became a staple food.
- Potatoes were brought to Europe by Spanish explorers who “discovered” them in South America in the early 16th century. Since potatoes are good sources of vitamin C, they were subsequently used on Spanish ships to prevent scurvy.
- In Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, first published in 1861, she claimed that potatoes were “suspicious; a great many are narcotic, and many are deleterious.”
- Despite Mrs. Beeton’s warnings, humans can survive indefinitely on a diet of only potatoes (including their skins) and butter. While not the healthiest of diets, the combination contains everything one needs to stay alive, aside from water.
- A potato is still living when you harvest it, albeit in a dormant state. Warmth and moisture cause the spuds to start sprouting, which is why we’re advised to store them in a cool, dry and dark place.