This section is from the book "The Potato: A Compilation of Information from Every Available Source", by Eugene H. Grubb, W. S. Guilford. Also available from Amazon: The Potato: A Compilation Of Information From Every Available Source.
In Chapter II (The Potato As Food) the potato as food is discussed by Dr. J. H. Kellogg. In this chapter the food value of the potato and special recipes are given by Mrs. E. H. Grubb, and valuable recipes are also given by Miss Lenna F. Cooper and Mr. Emil Tenthorey. The following is by Mrs. E. H. Grubb:
There are many varieties of potatoes, and tastes differ as to a choice. In America and Great Britain the white fleshed, mealy varieties are preferred. In Continental European countries many yellow fleshed varieties are in great favor, such potatoes being especially valuable for soups, ragouts, salads, and hash, as they are of a waxy texture and retain their shape better when cooked than those of a mealy texture. The yellow fleshed potato is said to contain more protein in proportion to the starch content than the white fleshed and is therefore richer in flavor.
Thepotato is a food rich in starch, which supplies the body with fuel for keeping up warmth and provides it with energy necessary for muscular activity.
The food value and composition of rice and potatoes are very nearly the same, the difference being that potatoes contain a larger percentage of juice, while the rice is dry and concentrated.
Potatoes are so easily and quickly prepared and may be served in such a variety of ways that they add variety to the daily meal. Their mineral matter is valuable in the processes of digestion. They are easily grown and yield abundantly, and their keeping qualities are excellent. These advantages place them at a price within the reach of all in the localities where they can be grown. Often, when old potatoes are out of the market, new ones are so high in price as practically to be out of reach of those of ordinary means. It is well known that so much of a necessity is the potato considered that many families sacrifice to obtain them at the exorbitant prices new potatoes bring in Northern markets; also in the South the same condition occurs later in the season when potatoes are scarce and high priced. These facts go to prove the popularity of potatoes in the diet. "As dried or evaporated potatoes become better known they will supply the poorer people with this much-prized vegetable at a cost within their reach. The composition of such evaporated potatoes is much the same as the original. While the flavor and in some cases the appearance does not equal that of fresh potatoes, they may be prepared in all the appetizing ways of the fresh ones, and are most acceptable when the fresh potatoes are too high in price to be easily obtained. Evaporated or dried potatoes should be as common in our markets as the dried fruits that are such a welcome addition to our supply of food when the fresh ones are high priced or out of the market. Even in some of our largest potato-growing states, especially in the Mississippi Valley, potatoes often have very poor keeping qualities, and the average farmer finds himself short or entirely without this vegetable, and the city people of moderate means must inconveniently economize in the use of potatoes or do without this article of diet. At such times a heavy demand would be made for desiccated or evaporated potatoes were they common in our markets.
Potatoes for storing for future use should be firm and crisp when cut open with the knife. The quality can only be definitely tested by cooking. This test is best made by boiling in the skins or baking. After removing from the fire hold in a napkin and squeeze lightly, then break open, and if the starch is abundant, you have a white, flaky, uniform mass somewhat shiny and crystalline in appearance. If the starch is scanty it will be soggy and may have a watery core. This condition may be discovered in the raw potato by cutting a thin slice transversely from the middle of the tuber. Hold it up to the light, and if the core is large and many large arms branch out into the outer section, and the outer ring, known as the cortical layer, is thin, such a potato is not likely to be light and flaky when cooked. There is another quality of the potato which is neither soggy nor mealy, and which is very agreeable to most tastes, and is commonly described as waxi-ness. This quality is found in the immature tubers or early spring potatoes. In point of flavor there is as much difference as in texture. The immature potatoes contain a larger proportion of albumenoids that gelatinize in cooking, giving this moist consistency, and the larger proportion of acids and mineral matter gives the richness of flavor. In selecting potatoes for the table it is a very difficult matter to judge the quality by the outside appearance. A good, firm potato of fine, smooth skin might not be superior in quality to one of rough and uneven character. It is unusual for the purchaser to be fastidious in regard to flavor and quality, and yet these are elements worthy of more attention than color, size, or form. Very large potatoes have a large watery core, or, as is said in the kitchen, a bone, in the centre. They are apt to be coarse grained and lacking in flavor.
Excepting in cases of necessity no one lives upon potatoes alone. They are under ordinary circumstances eaten with meat, fish, eggs, butter, milk, and cheese, and digestive experiments prove that in these combinations their nutritives are very completely utilized in the body. Their abundant mineral matters are valuable aids in the process of digestion, and are supposed to be a preventive of scurvy. So well recognized was this property during the Civil War, and before the nutritive value of foods had been scientifically learned, that potatoes sliced and pickled in salt vinegar were sent by orders of physicians to supplement the soldier's diet of white flour, fat meat, beef, and beans. The same conditions were noted in the early Klondike days. Potatoes were regarded as necessities and were used regardless of their excessively high cost.
The early Spanish explorers found the Peruvian natives stocking their boats for long voyages with a plentiful supply of this wholesome tuber.
Potatoes are easy to cook, not requiring the expensive process in labor and fuel that bread making does. They may be prepared in such a variety of ways that they make many agreeable changes in the food supply during the winter months. They are easily grown, yield abundantly, and supply a starchy food at a price within the reach of all. They are especially rich in starch or energy supplying food, are preeminently the food of those who work at physical labor, and it is said that those who work never tire of potatoes. When we consider all these advantages, it is surprising that more potatoes are not used in the United States.