As the fourth-largest food crop in the world, potatoes are staple foods. With over a thousand different types of potatoes, they are a diverse form of produce that are widely used for cooking across the globe. They can be used whole, or chopped up to add to different dishes, as well as pureed for various uses. They also maintain an extensive shelf life, however they must be properly cooled. Check out these interesting facts about potatoes, as well as proper cooling practices and techniques.
Facts about Potatoes
Though it was previously believed that potatoes were cultivated in various parts of the world, studies have shown that they originated in southern Peru. Since their origin potatoes have found various homes and have become a staple in cooking. They are commonly used in every country, however they are quite essential in Europe and have been for centuries. Over the last few decades they have also grown constant in southern and eastern Asia. In fact, surveys revealed that a third of the potatoes in the world are harvested in China and India.
Potatoes grow with little effort in a variety of climates and are fairly easy to harvest. These factors have contributed to their diversification. From small red potatoes, to large russet potatoes to sweet potatoes, there are a variety of potato versions to choose from, all of which can be utilized to create a myriad of dishes. A few common uses of potato across the globe include: baked, boiled and fried. Outside of common uses, they are considered important aspects of traditional dishes in many countries. For instance, chopped, fried potatoes are a main component of the infamous British “fish and chips,” and in Lithuania, riced potatoes are an essential ingredient in the national dish, Cepelinai. With the different tastes of the diverse forms of potatoes and the textures and flavors that may be cultivated, the variations of potato dishes and uses are virtually endless.
General Information about Cooling and Storing Potatoes
Potatoes do have a longer shelf life than many other types of produce; however, in order for them to reach their full potential they must be properly cooled and stored after harvest. In order to achieve this there are a few factors that must be considered.
Temperature – The temperature needs can vary based on the state of the potato. After it has initially been harvested and cooled, it may be kept in temperatures ranging from 40-50⁰. Once it has sat for a while, it will need to be kept in slightly warmer temperatures, ranging from 50-60⁰.
Relative Humidity – Potatoes need to be kept at a pretty high level of humidity. It is suggested that they have a relative humidity of 90%.
Shelf Life – When potatoes have been properly cooled after harvest and are kept at appropriate temperatures and humidity levels, they can maintain a relatively long shelf life. It is estimated that they can last from 56 to 140 days. However, it should be noted that they become more sensitive to ethylene the longer that they sit unused.
Proper Cooling Systems for Potatoes
In cooling produce there are a variety of possible options that may be applied. However, not every choice is right for every type of produce. Some options may make the items too cold or not cold enough. There are a couple of methods that are often used to cool potatoes.
Room Cooling – This technique requires an insulated room and refrigerators. Basically, the produce is placed inside of the room and the fridges cool it. Depending upon the size of the room and amount of produce, various sizes and quantities of refrigerators may be required. Even still, this is considered one of the slower cooling methods.
Forced-Air Cooling – This cooling method could be considered an advancement to the cooling room technique. It incorporates the same concept of placing the produce in an insulated room with refrigerators, and it adds strategically placed fans to help circulate the air. This aids in speeding up the cooling process 75-90%.
To properly maintain your potatoes, make sure that you have the right cooling system in place. Semco designs and manufactures industrial cooling and storage systems that are ideal for use with potatoes and other produce. We will take factors such as capacity, budget, required time line and other key information into consideration to ensure that every client gets the best system possible.