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Volume III
January 20, 2012

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

The Whole Truth, and Nothin' But the Truth about Veggie Skins...

By Alice Osborne

Is it true that most of a potato's vitamins are in its skin? And haven't you heard the same thing about carrots? So what's the REAL truth?

Food scientists have the answer. First, potatoes: They say that vitamins in potatoes and most other vegetables are not concentrated in the skin (as some health food faddists believe), but in the pulp just under the skin. However, since it is impossible to peel a potato without scraping away some of the vitamin-rich pulp, it makes sense to cook and serve it with its skin. Besides, the skin does have some nutrients and adds flavor, texture, and color contrast.

Now carrots: Same holds true for carrots, except for the part about the skin adding flavor. Fact is, carrot skin is on the bitter side, so to peel a carrot makes good sense and increases the chances of people actually eating them - raw OR cooked.

But back to potatoes: SO, if we're going to cook and eat them with the skin ON, we want them really clean. This can be a challenge, depending on the spud size and its number of eyes (they catch and hold dirt).

The best way I've found to get potatoes really clean (almost surgically clean), is to use a cloth made out of that greenish blue scrubber stuff you find on one side of sponges. Don't know what it's called, but you can buy packages of this cleaner "cloth" (sometimes called scrubbing pads). They come in varying sizes and colors. The ones I have are actually green and a little smaller than an 8x10 piece of paper. I love how well the scruffy texture grabs anything on the skin and how well the whole thing wraps around the entire spud. Just wrap your potato, twist and rub, rinse well, and you've got a clean potato.

And speaking of leaving the skins on the spuds, my son, Paul, a chef in Jackson, WY, is always in charge of the spuds when he comes home for holidays. And you can bet he leaves the skins on - "Adds flavor and an interesting color contrast," he says. All we know is, they are out of this world. Here's the recipe:

Skin-On Mashed Potatoes

Serves 8

2 1/2 pounds unpeeled potatoes, cubed
3/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons sour cream
3 oz cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 teaspoons dried basil
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add potatoes, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain potatoes, and transfer to a bowl. Add butter, and mash with a potato masher or electric mixer until potatoes are starting to become smooth. Add milk, sour cream, and cream cheese and mix to your desired texture. Careful not to over mix the potatoes once they are creamy. Season with garlic, basil, salt and pepper.

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