History and characteristics

The conquistadors introduced the potato to Europe. The crop was only grown on a small scale from the beginning of the 18th century. It was not very popular and long considered food for the poor. In Holland, for the first time in Friesland, the potato got recognized as aliment. Gradually, the potato acquired a role as popular food and by the 18th century the potato was cultivated throughout all of Europe. Thanks to breeding techniques and improved cultivation methods the potato has developed into a versatile and valued nutritional source.

In some countries, like the United States and Britain, the potato is a complementary food, suitable for the preparation of a large variety of excellent dishes (fried, baked, boiled, mashed, dumplings, etc.). But in countries such as those of central and eastern Europe, the potato substitutes, partly or totally, for the starchy food generally included in the daily diet. The dry tuber contains an average of 66% starch (furthermore i.a. 4% sugar en 9% protein), which is the principal component of its calories.  The potato can provide the human body with such useful elements as copper and iron and that could take the place of bread, because as far as calories are concerned, the equivalent of 3-4 ounces of bread corresponds to approximately 1 pound of potatoes. Because of its low percentage of salts, the potato is often eaten by those suffering from high blood pressure. It also contains some vitamins, especially vitamin C. Besides human nutrition, the tubers of Solanum Tuberosum have many other uses, such as extraction of starches and the production of alcohol.