Monday, June 22, 2020

4000 Different Types of Potatoes in Peru | Peruvian Potatoes

4000 Different Types of Potatoes in Peru | Peruvian Potatoes 

Peru has more than 4,000 varieties of potatoes, the largest in the world, and over 700,000 families in 19 producing regions make their living growing this crop.

The humble potato’s story began more than 10,000 years ago on the shores of Lake Titicaca, in present-day Peru. The Incas are believed to have been the first to cultivate potatoes all the way up in the Andes mountain range, at 3,800 meters above sea level.

Wild potato plants already grew around the lake, and communities of Inca farmers began domesticating the potato and learning how to preserve this sturdy veggie.

The Incas discovered that by dehydrating the potatoes into a substance called chuño, they could store it for up to 10 or even 15 years. Peruvian potatoes were versatile too. The Incans boiled, mashed, roasted, fermented in water to create a sticky toqosh, and ground to a pulp and soaked to create almidón de papa (potato starch).

It wasn’t until the mid-16th century that potatoes spread beyond the shores of South America. After Spanish Conquistadors ransacked Peru in hopes of finding gold, they instead discovered the potato.

The Spanish were impressed with this root vegetable that was easy to farm in abundance and store for long periods. Packed with vitamin C, the potato also relieved scurvy among the Spanish sailors. Peruvian potatoes quickly became a staple item on Spanish ships and the Conquistadors carried them across the seas to Europe.

Since then, the potato has traveled all over the globe, becoming one of the most important foods in the world. Although it may seem like a simple tuber, the potato has played a great role in human history.

Today you can find over 4,000 varieties of native potatoes grown in the Andean highlands of Peru. They come in every shape and color, including blue, yellow, red, pink, and even bright purple Peruvian potatoes. The markets are overflowing with fascinating potato varieties, so you’re never too far from a trusty potato in Peru. The country even celebrates National Potato Day on 30 May each year!

Potatoes are more than just food in Peru and are an important part of Peruvian heritage. Many local farmers cultivate different potato varieties to preserve historic traditions. Different communities trade special varieties of potatoes and gift them at weddings and celebrations.

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