The star of your Sunday roasts, fries, late night HSPs and Nonna’s special gnocchi – we bloody love potatoes. The humble ‘tate is part of an unfortunate fate as part of the $2.4 billion worth of fruit and veg that ends up being thrown out every year.
With young Aussies being among the worst food wasters in the country, it’s crazy that we’re wasting over $1000 of our hard earned dollar bills on uneaten food per household.
Here are some tips smashing your potato waste (and bonus – you get to eat more potatoes).
Know your potato varieties
There are over 100 varieties of potatoes grown in Australia, each with their own cooking personality and seasonality. Knowing a little about your spud helps you score some 10/10’s in the kitchen.
Generally spuds fall into one of two categories: waxy or floury. Waxy spuds remain firm and intact during cooking, making them perfect for potato salads, soups and casseroles. Floury potatoes will give you the fluffy baked potatoes of your dreams.
Kick potato salad goals with the creamy, buttery Kipfler potato, or try the Russet Burback for the ultimate crunchy chips. For foolproof roast potatoes, King Edward is your man! Even better – ask your tater farmer! One of my personal faves is MJ MOW Gourmet Potatoes at Prahran Market. Michael and his fam have been storeholders at Prahran Market since 1891 and get their hands on the creme de la creme of potato crops. Select from the best gnocchi potatoes (the Toolangi Delight) or turn your next cheesy mash purple with the Purple Congo. Or take your pick of plenty of other weird and wonderful varieties.
Embrace ugly, support local, and grow your own
“Perfect” spuds are the only ones that make it to some supermarket shelves, with retailers screening for size, disfigurement and even curvature to choose the perfect potato. Spuds measuring in under 60mm or over 85mm are deemed unfit for purchase and face their fate as stock feed. Supermarkets also exclusively choose varieties that have a long shelf life and have a solid and reliable yield.
Fortunately, consumer pressure has meant that some supermarkets have started to offer discounted “odd bunch” and “imperfect picks” ranges. But some have pointed out these discounted wonky varieties still cost farmers the same price to produce – and to get to the root of our waste problems, we need a greater societal appreciation of just how much work it takes to get food to our plates.
It’s not all bad news though! Young people are leading the charge armed with a rising social conscience. One in four supermarket shoppers buys at least some of their fruit and veg from a greengrocer. With 80c of every grocery dollar spent staying in the shop compared to 60c for supermarkets, it’s easy to make your dollar count – whether you’re spending it on something wonky or some good soil to grow some appreciation for where your food comes from.
Know what’s safe
Potatoes that are exposed to heat or light will start sprouting and turning green leaving them toxic in huge quantities. Make sure to leave your taters in a cool dark place and if sprouting or green patches appear, remove and peel off the naughty areas and enjoy as normal (unless your idea of normal is consuming multiple kilos of potato all at once…).
Potatoes can be revamped hundreds of ways. So next time you’re faced with a surplus of spuds, why not re-bake into potato nachos, mash away or follow our gnocchi recipe below!
1. Bring 800g of starchy potatoes such as desiree to the boil in salted water. Cook for about 30 minutes OR until tender and the skins are starting to split.
2. Drain and remove potato skins before mashing or passing through a potato ricer.
3. Add a pinch of salt, an egg yolk and about 150g of flour (type ’00’ will work best) and bring together into a nice smooth dough, adding flour where needed.
4. Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil.
5. Dust the bench with flour and roll the dough into logs about 2cm thick and cut into 3cm pieces.
6. Cook in batches until the gnocchi floats, then remove with a slotted spoon and place into a lightly oiled baking dish.
Looking for more ways to cook your waste habits? Check out our SpoonLed series!