Potato is an important crop and popular food in the world. It is also known as ‘The king of vegetables’. Potato is a very rich source of starch and it also contains phosphorus, calcium, iron and some vitamin C & A.
Potatoes are used for a variety of purposes, and not only as a vegetable for cooking. In fact, less than 50 percent of potatoes grown worldwide are consumed fresh. The rest are processed into potato food products and food ingredients; fed to animals; processed into starch; fermented and distilled into bio-ethanol for brewing or fuel industry; and re-used as seed tubers for growing the next season’s potato crop.
Food Uses: Fresh, Frozen, Dehydrated
Fresh potatoes are baked, boiled, or fried and used in a wide range of recipes: mashed potatoes, potato pancakes, potato dumplings, twice-baked potatoes, potato soup, potato salad etc. But global consumption of potato as food is shifting from fresh potatoes to added-value and processed food products. One of the main usages in that category is frozen potatoes, which includes most of the French fries/chips served in restaurants and fast-food chains worldwide. Another processed product, the potato crisp is the champion of snack foods in many countries.
Dehydrated potato flakes are used in retail mashed potato products, as ingredients in snacks. Potato flour, another dehydrated product, is used by the food industry to bind meat mixtures and thicken gravies and soups.
A fine, tasteless powder, potato starch provides higher viscosity than wheat and corn starches, and delivers a more tasty product. It is used as a thickener for sauces and stews, and as a binding agent in cake mixes, dough, biscuits, and ice-cream.
In Poland and Scandinavia, crushed potatoes are applied to convert their starch to fermentable sugars that are used in the alcoholic beverages, such as vodka.
Non-Food Uses: Glue, Fuel-Grade Ethanol
Potato starch is widely used by the pharmaceutical, textile, wood, and paper industries as an adhesive, binder, texture agent, and filler, and by oil drilling firms to wash boreholes. Potato starch is a 100% biodegradable substitute for polymers and other plastics and used, for instance, in disposable table wares.
Potato peel and other wastes from potato processing are rich in starch that can be liquefied and fermented to produce fuel-grade ethanol, an alternative fuel to gasoline. Globally, there is a growing interest for the production of ecologically sustainable bio-fuels.