Is Potato a Fruit or Vegetable?
The potato is a root vegetable native to the Americas, a starchy tuber of the plant Solanum tuberosum. Many plants are masters at adapting themselves to their surroundings. They can change their structure to suit their needs. The potato plant has changed the shape and size of its stem to store food and water. And this storage is done under the ground where it is relatively cooler.
There are close to 4,000 varieties of potato including common commercial varieties, each of which has specific agricultural or culinary attributes. Around 80 varieties are commercially available in the UK. In general, varieties are categorized into a few main groups based on common characteristics, such as russet potatoes (rough brown skin), red potatoes, white potatoes, yellow potatoes (also called Yukon potatoes) and purple potatoes.
For culinary purposes, varieties are often differentiated by their waxiness: floury or mealy baking potatoes have more starch (20–22%) than waxy boiling potatoes (16–18%). The distinction may also arise from variation in the comparative ratio of two different potato starch compounds: amylose and amylopectin.
Amylose, a long-chain molecule, diffuses from the starch granule when cooked in water, and lends itself to dishes where the potato is mashed. Varieties that contain a slightly higher amylopectin content, which is a highly branched molecule, help the potato retain its shape after being boiled in water.
Potatoes that are good for making potato chips or potato crisps are sometimes called “chipping potatoes”, which means they meet the basic requirements of similar varietal characteristics, being firm, fairly clean, and fairly well-shaped.