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Monday, May 24, 2010

Dawn Of The Potatoes

Recently my mother sent me an internet link to a video on peeling potatoes made by the Idaho Potato Commission.  It features Dawn Well (Maryann on the TV program Gilligan’s Island), who shows how to easily peel an Idaho potato without using a peeler.  I watched the video and was amazed at the easy process of peeling.

The steps Dawn used to peel the potato are to get a pot of boiling water.  Using a knife cut through the peel around the circumference of the potato.  Boil the potato for 15 minutes, and then plunge into cold water for a few seconds.  Twist and pull off the peel in two pieces.  What could be simpler!

A few seconds after watching the video, I started to think about what I had seen and I decided to run some tests regarding peeling potatoes.

The first test was to time how long it takes to manually peel potatoes.  I was making au gratin potatoes and needed to peel six large russet potatoes.  I timed myself and it took six minutes to hand peel the six potatoes (that included dropping one of them while I was peeling it).  Using some of my higher math skills, I determined that it took me one minute to hand peel each potato.

The next test was to bring ten-cups of water to a boil in our hot pot (the hot pot is faster than boiling water on the stove).  This was a simple test and it took six minutes to bring the water to a boil.  The next steps were already timed for me in the video: boil the potato for 15 minutes and plunge into ice water for ten-seconds and then pulling off the peel.

This means that for time it took to get the water to boil, I could hand peel six potatoes.  While Dawn cooked say four potatoes in the ten cups of water for fifteen minutes, I could hand peel another fifteen potatoes.  Then Dawn had to remove the skins, this would take about another minute.  This means that in the same amount of time that it takes to use the boiling method for four potatoes, I could hand peel twenty-two potatoes.  Now granted, I was busy the entire twenty-two minutes with peeling potatoes, where Dawn could do other tasks around her kitchen.

One first glance, the boiling method looks like a great idea; but when you start to think about it, it does not make a lot of sense.  I didn’t even calculate the impact to the environment of using the ten cups of water plus an additional amount of ice water, or the amount of energy it takes to bring the water to a boil.  Thank you Dawn and the Idaho Potato Commission for showing us this interesting way to peel potatoes, but for my time and money, I will stick with my trusty potato peeler.

Adventures In Food: Author: Kerry Howell

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