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US Army Medical Course MD0714-100 - Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

US Army Medical Course MD0714-100 - Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

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Published by: Georges on Nov 24, 2008
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a. General. The potato is considered by many to be the world's most important
vegetable. It is a member of the nightshade family, as are tomatoes, peppers, and
eggplants. Potatoes are native to South America. Potatoes are not taproots; they are
the enlarged, starchy stem of the plants growing below ground level. The potato has an
abundant content of minerals and is a fair source of vitamins. Contrary to popular
belief, potatoes are not very fattening. One medium-size potato contains no more
calories than a large apple. Potatoes should not be refrigerated, as this will result in an
objectionable flavor and cause the desirable starch content to convert to undesirable

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sugars. Potatoes are grown in many sizes, shapes, and colors. The flesh may be
white, yellow, pink, red, or blue, but only the white-fleshed types are acceptable for
marketing in the USA.

b. Five Types. Industry classifies potatoes into five basic types: Round White
(picture 26g), Russet Burbank (picture 26f), Russet Rural or Round Russet, Round Red
(picture 26e), and Long White. The varieties within all of these groups are too
numerous to mention and only experts can accurately distinguish between those of
similar appearance.

c. Three Groupings. Another method is to classify potatoes into three groups:
new, general purpose, and baking. However, the distinction between them is not clear-
cut and there is much overlapping.

(1) New potato (pictures 26c, 26d) is a term most frequently used to
describe potatoes harvested and marketed during the late winter or early spring. The
name is also widely used in later crop-producing areas to designate freshly dug
potatoes which are not fully matured. New potatoes are usually used for boiling or
creaming. They vary in size, shape, and may be red or brown skinned. Since they are
immature, they are quite susceptible to excessive skinning and feathering. Some
skinning and feathering are allowable, but excessive amounts are undesirable.
Feathered areas are likely to turn brown or black, causing the potato to wilt or shrivel at
normal room temperature.

(2) General-purpose potatoes (picture 26e) include the majority of supplies
offered for sale in the fresh state. These potatoes are available all year, due to air-
cooled storage facilities. They are used for boiling, frying, and baking, although many of
the more common varieties are not best for baking.

(3) The quality of baking potatoes (picture 26f) is affected by the variety and
the area where grown. Baking potatoes are generally long and cylindrical or slightly
flattened (see figures 3-8 and 3-9), and have russetted, heavy-netted skin and many
well-distributed shallow eyes. The flesh is white. It is good for every purpose but ideal
for baking and french fries.

Figure 3-8. Long potatoes, typical shape.

Figure 3-9. Long potatoes, lower limit.
US No1, fairly well-shaped.

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d. Seed Potatoes. Seed potatoes (no picture) are used to produce commercial
crops. Some are whole potatoes of 1-1/4" maximum diameter. Some are whole
potatoes cut into four pieces, with each piece having one or preferably two eyes.
Certified seed potatoes are grown in cool regions where disease symptoms can be
seen in the tops of the plants. These are shipped to warmer regions around the world.

e. Greening. One common defect of potatoes is known as greening. This
defect appears on the surface of the skin and is a result of chlorophyll development in
potatoes that have been exposed to either sunlight or artificial light. It is a possible
indication of the presence of a colorless chemical called solanin. If the greening has
developed far enough, it will cause potatoes to have a bitter taste. The green areas
should be peeled or cut away. Since greening is not allowed in US No. 1 potatoes, you
should carefully check for it.

f. Marketing Characteristics.

(1) Good-quality new potatoes should be well-shaped, firm, and free of
blemishes or sunburn (a green discoloration under the skin). Small amounts of skinning
are acceptable, but potatoes with large skinned and discolored areas are undesirable.
General-purpose and baking potatoes should be reasonably smooth,
well-shaped, firm, and free of blemishes, sunburn, and decay. They should also be
relatively free of skinned surfaces. (See figures 3-8 through 3-11)

(2) Poor quality potatoes may have large cuts or bruises, and green color.
The presence of sprouting and shriveling is undesirable and is evidence of decay.

Figure 3-10. Long potatoes, lower limit.

Figure 3-11. Second growth on

U.S. No. 2, not seriously misshapen.

potatoes.

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