In Peru, potatoes are more than just ingredients; they're a way of life. We are also lucky to have more than four thousand edible varieties that are grown in the beautiful Peruvian mountains.
The International Potato Center in Lima has a gene bank that maintains—in vitro and in seeds—the world's largest collection of potatoes, sweet potatoes, and their wild relatives, as well as a unique collection of Andean roots and tubers, whose genetic, physiological and biochemical is studied by the scientific community. The center maintains that the preservation of these species is essential for humanity and ensuring the availability of these products now and in the future is crucial.
In Puno, in southeastern Peru, there is a naturally freeze-dried potato called chuño. This is prepared in June and July (winter in the southern hemisphere), when the cold reaches the Andes plateau, at altitudes above 3,800 meters, and temperatures begin to drop at night to -5°C (23ºF). Andean communities take advantage of the contrast in temperatures between day and night to “mummify” (or freeze-dry) potatoes, freezing them at night, and dehydrating them in the sun during the day at temperatures reaching 18°C (64ºF). The resulting potatoes, which are sweeter and lose any bitterness, are consumed a few months later when the fresh potatoes run out. There are two varieties, black and white. The white variety is the same as the black but washed. As a child, my favorite chuño was the black one, and my mother was an expert at cooking it, she made a truly spectacular chuño with Tacneño cheese and onions.
A very important fact about potatoes is that, through certain cooking techniques, we can undergo a remarkable transformation of their starch, changing it from complex to resistant.
Resistant starch cannot be fully digested by our bodies because it resists the enzymes responsible for breaking down complex starches. Due to this resistance, it passes through our small intestine intact, serving as a prebiotic food for intestinal bacteria. This, in turn, increases the population of "good" bacteria in our digestive system and protects the intestinal mucosa. Additionally, resistant starch does not convert into sugar, thereby improving insulin response and promoting a feeling of satiety. It serves as an essential tool in strengthening the immune system.
We can transform the starches in potatoes into resistant starches by baking or boiling them and then allowing them to cool in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Another recommendation is to peel the potatoes before consumption, as the peel contains the highest concentration of solanine, an anti-nutrient that inhibits the absorption of other nutrients.
A freshly cooked potato is not as good as one that has been cooked and then cooled. Remember this when you're cooking them.
Accompany boiled potatoes with this delicious Huancaina Sauce