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5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Potatoes

Updated on October 9, 2013

There are few vegetables in this world that are as versatile as the beloved potato. Mashed, fried, sautéed, boiled, baked, roasted, wedged, or French fried - the potato will find some way of making you love it every time. However, other than being a starchy staple of the average man's life, the splendid spud is host to many secrets that will mash your mind.

1) Potatoes are poisonous - You heard me correctly. The much loved veg that we all enjoy is actually capable of making us very ill. The plant contains toxic compounds known as glycoalkaloids in the stem and leaves. The potato itself can also turn green when left for a while, as a result of a high concentration of the glycoalkaloid poison. Although it is rare for potato poisining to occur, it does occasionally happen. Death normally occurs after a stage of weakness and confusion, followed by a coma.

The Deadly Nightshade Plant
The Deadly Nightshade Plant | Source

2) Potatoes are from the same family as the Deadly Nightshade - The potato is part of the Solanaceae family (don't ask me how to pronounce it, I honestly haven't the foggiest), which the Atropa belladonna (Deadly Nightshade) plant is also a member of. The Nightshade is one of the most toxic plants found in the Eastern Hemisphere, with 8-10 of its berries being fatal if ingested. Scary stuff.

Blue Swede - Potato Variety
Blue Swede - Potato Variety | Source

3) There are close to 4000 different varieties of potato - ...and you thought they were versatile enough already! Potatoes are usually categorised into groups of: russets, reds,whites, yellows and purples, based on their common characteristics.

4) Some potatoes are BLUE - Blue (or purple) potatoes originated in South America. The skin is purple, becoming blue when cooked. Looks rather unappetising, however the variety, known as 'Cream of the Crop' has proved popular in Ireland.

5) Potatoes are used to brew Vodka -Though this is probably more well known than some of the other facts included here, this is also quite interesting, and unexpected from a seemingly innocent vegetable! The potato is high in starch, which, when put through a series of processes, is broken down into sugars, and then into ethanol (alcohol) and used in Vodka, Potcheen and Akvavit.

Gotta love potatoes.

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    • itsmejohnsmith profile image

      George Lancaster 5 years ago from London

      A good job the vet was able to save your dog! It is surprisingly commonly unknown that potatoes are poisonous and in the deadly nightshade family, something I find rather odd - and very interesting!

    • John MacNab profile image

      John MacNab 5 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence

      Interesting, itsmejohnsmith. I didn't know that the spud was a relative of the deadly nightshade, but I did know it was poisonous. Our daughter fed her unwanted potatoes to our Great Dane, and it was only quick work by the vet that saved the dog's life.

    • itsmejohnsmith profile image

      George Lancaster 5 years ago from London

      Thank you very much for taking your time to comment and vote! Im glad you learnt something new too! Its funny how little we know about things we are surrounded by.

    • Efficient Admin profile image

      Efficient Admin 5 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      I guess we shouldn't eat green potatoes? I never knew they were used to make vodka! Gosh the things you can learn on Hubpages! Thank you for sharing this useful and informative hub. Voted up