Potatoes can be peeled, par boiled, and then stored in the freezer to avoid them going off
Yet now it’s emerged that we often treat the trusty spud with disdain, throwing away about half of what we buy because we never get round to using them.
That’s a staggering 40 million every week, costing families £230million annually.
As a Save Our Spuds campaign is launched by anti-waste organisation WRAP, we reveal ingenious ways of making this very under-rated food go further.
If you have a surplus of potatoes they can be peeled and par boiled (for about five minutes until they just begin to soften) then stored in the freezer.
Potatoes can be mashed and put in tupperware containers for freezing
We throw away about half the potatoes we buy because we never get round to using them
Later they can simply be popped back into boiling water to complete the cooking process, or roasted.
Even chips (both home-made or from the chippy) can be frozen and reheated, but freezing raw spuds is not recommended
Mash too is ideal for freezing (in Tupperware containers) to make bubble and squeak.
This dish is also great for using up leftover vegetables, such as cabbage, sprouts and carrots.
Bubble and squeak is said to get its name from the sound cabbage makes when in a pan
Simply heat some oil in a pan, add some onion and garlic and stir in the vegetables. Next add the mash, work everything together and allow the mix to brown slightly. Flip and repeat until you can cut into slices.
The name bubble and squeak is said to originate from the sounds cabbage makes in the pan.
Mash can also be stirred into soups and stews to thicken them up and add flavour.
For easy tattie scones add flour to mash, knead slightly and roll out on a floured surface to a thickness of about 1cm.
Potatoes can be added to soups and stews to add flavour and depth
Cut into triangles and cook on a hot greased griddle for about five minutes each side. Serve hot with butter.
Reaching for the juicer may not be an obvious way of using up stocks of spuds, but the starchy tubers are rich in nutrients. They are a source of fibre, vitamin C, potassium and are fat-free.
However, raw potato juice isn’t bursting with flavour so add other vegetables or fruits.
It is also said that slices of raw potatoes are perfect for dealing with puffy eyes, while some people swear by mashed potato face masks.
Chips can be frozen and reheated and offer a good way of preserving potatoes
You can release your inner child by making printing blocks and stamps from potato.
Simply slice an unwanted raw potato in half, press a metal cookie cutter into the surface and cut around the outline so the design stands out (there are plenty of online videos showing the technique). Then press firmly in washable ink and get stamping.
This is a fun way of creating everything from home-made cards to wrapping paper.
Tasty fishcakes can be made with surplus potatoes and a few store cupboard ingredients.
Fish can be added to left-over potatoes to make fishcakes
Peel and boil the spuds, then mash using a little milk, lemon juice and butter for extra moisture.
Stir in flakes of tinned salmon and season with salt, pepper and mustard or a dollop of tomato ketchup.
Shape the mix into patties and dip in a little egg yolk before shallow frying for three to four minutes each side. A few fronds of dill will add that professional touch.
Rob Clayton of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board says: “Potatoes are incredibly healthy and versatile. Rice and pasta don’t offer the same nutrition and it is a shame that potatoes sometimes get overlooked or thrown away too soon. We shouldn’t regard them as just the bit on the side of our roast dinners.”
There are even DIY applications for spuds. To remove the base of a light bulb that has broken in its fitting simply turn off the power, press half a potato firmly into the remains and turn to unscrew.
Before you throw away an old potato, cut in half and rub on to leather shoes. You will initially notice a dull appearance but a brisk polish, or rub with a cloth, will leave your shoes shining.
The same goes for cleaning glass and leaving silver gleaming.
And finally… potato peelings are great for cooking up delicious home-made crisps. Just dry and fry in sunflower oil in small batches until crunchy and golden, then season with a little salt and paprika.
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Ways to keep your potatoes happy
To make raw potatoes last longer store in a dark, cool, well-ventilated place (but not in the fridge) away from strong-smelling foods such as onions and raw garlic. In such conditions potatoes can last up to three months.
Keep them in their original packaging, or transfer them to a cloth or natural fibre bag.
If potatoes develop green patches or sprout “ears” they are still fine to eat if those bits are cut off. “The most common cause of greening is light reaching potatoes,” says Jane Skelton, head of packaging for Sainsbury’s – which is introducing darker bags to extend larder life. “It’s a major reason why so many spuds never make it to the table.”
Another trick to extend the life of your spuds is to put an apple in the bag, because ethelyne in the fruit slows the sprouting process.