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Potato Interstitials

Announcer: Here's Alton Brown for Couch Potato Weekend

A Spud In Every Tank

    Most folks know that high-starch spuds like this, fall apart when cooked while low-starch models keep their shape even after boiling. But what if you were to come across a spud you'd never seen? [holds an odd looking potato up] How would you know how to cook it? Well, luckily starch is denser than a brine composed of one part salt and eleven parts water. So, if the suspect spud sinks, baking is an option. If it floats, it's a witch ... or maybe just a low-starch model waiting to star in your next potato salad.

Baker By the Dozen

    Alton Brown here for Couth Potato. True spud-lovers know that bakers [potatoes] do best when roasted right on the rack. Of course, if you've got a dozen diners, you may need to consider vertical integration via a muffin tin. Just avoid poking steam vents in the ends of the potatoes sitting down inside the cup. Otherwise, you'll end up with soggy bottoms. Definitely not good eats.

Easy On The Starch

[AB is ironing and tries to spray starch on the pants, the can is empty]

    No trouble. I was going to make mash potatoes tonight anyway.

[peels some potatoes, slices them, soaks them in water]

[removes the potatoes but leaves the tub of water]

1 Hour Later

[pours out the water and scoops up some of the starch on the bottom]

Another Hour Later

1/8 - 1/4 tsp. potato starch

[puts the starch in a spray bottle and adds water]

8 ounces of water

[shakes bottle and sprays onto pants, continues to iron]

Hello Mr. Chips

    The year, 1853. The place, Saratoga Springs, New York. Railroad magnate, Cornelius Vanderbilt is served a plate of fried potatoes which he thinks are just too darned thick. So, he sends them back to chef George Crum who, insulted by the big wig's insolence, decides to slice the next batch so wafer thin that when fried, they don't even look like potatoes anymore. Intrigued, Vanderbilt gives them a try. [tastes] And thus is born, the Saratoga or potato chip.

[another source for info here]

Instant Spudman

GUEST: Housewife

[in the form of a TV commercial]

HW: [stirring watery soup] Oh, no. Watery soup again.
AB: Perhaps I can be of assistance.
HW: Who are you?
AB: That's not important. What I have here is.
HW: What is it?
AB: A righteous remedy for your viscosity vexations. Just stir over medium heat,
       my good cook.

[Ten Minutes Later]

HW: Yum. What do you call this masked marvel.

AB: Instant potato flakes. Just a handful will thicken any soup, stew or casserole. 

Instant Mashed Potato Flakes

HW: Dinner's saved.
AB: And my work here is done.

Pop Goes The Spud

GUEST: Paul Merchant

    Why is it, if you whip potatoes in a food processor you end up with something like paste? Well, a potato's like a gas tank full of little fuel cells called starch. When heated, these absorb the water around them swelling to several 100 times their original size. Now at this point they can be converted into a light, fluffy mass. But if you overwork them, the starches will rupture [pops huge balloon Paul is holding] leaving you with a big mess.

Potato My Sweet

GUEST: Mr. Sweet Potato

AB: Hmm. Mr. Sweet Potato, I believe you are suffering from an identity crisis. You see, as a member of the Morning Glory family, you can't be a potato. And despite what all those can labels say, you're not a yam either, because yams are lighter, sweeter and from Africa, not South America. I'm afraid you're going to have to settle for being delicious and nutritious. Now, tell me: what comes to your mind when I say the word, 'marshmallow'?

Skinny Fries and All

    Hi. Alton Brown here. Ever wonder why fast food fries are skinny? They have to be because they're frozen right after they're cut. You see, when a spud drops below 40 degrees, its starch converts to sugar very quickly.
     Now, say we cut thick fries from this well-chilled potato. Since sugar browns faster than starch, they burn on the outside before they cook through. The solution? Keep them skinny.

We Are What We Eat

    Hi. Alton Brown here. According to recent studies, the average American gobbles 142 pounds of potatoes in a year but only 29 percent of that is in fresh form.

Important Statistics

    Fifteen percent is dehydrated, 14% is potato chips and 3% is canned. The big winner? Frozen spuds which make up nearly 40% of our potato intake.

29 %
15 %
14 %
3 %
39 %

What's In A Name

GUEST: Spuddy

    Hi. Alton Brown here. Now most of us know that tuber's just Latin for 'lump' and that potato comes from the Peruvian 'batata'. But where do we get this [spud]?
    Well, I'll give you a hint. This device, which is very handy for digging up potatoes, is known technically as a spud. And it used to be that a farmer known for selling bad potatoes was called, spuddy.

AB: [to Spuddy] Shame.

Tuber = Lump
Potato = batata
Spud = 


Last Edited on 08/27/2010