From: Facts For Farmers: Also for The Family Circle. A Compost of Rich
Materials For All Land-owners, about Domestic Animals and Domestic
Economy; Farm Buildings; Gardens, Orchards, and Vineyards; and all Farm
Crops, Tools, Fences, Fertilization, Draining, and Irrigation - edited
by Solon Robinson - 1865
383. Changes produced in Cooking Vegetables.–Many
vegetables, for instance the potato, in a raw state, are wholly unfit for
food. Every housekeeper knows that cooking renders them palatable and
wholesome, but every one does not know how they are affected by heat, nor
why one mode of cooking makes them acceptable to the taste, while they may
be nearly spoiled by a different application of heat. Hence it is not
always applied in the right manner to produce the best effect.
It is often said of potatoes, "they were spoiled in the cooking."
Look at the reason. A pound of potatoes contains on an average about three
quarters of a pound of water and two to two and a half ounces of starch.
It also contains about one fourth as much sugar and gum as it does starch,
and about one sixth as much woody fiber.
If a good, sound potato is plunged whole into boiling water and
kept boiling until softened throughout to such a degree that i could be
readily mashed, the starch-grains burst and absorb the water, so that the
mass appears more like meal than like starch boiled in water, and is then
in a condition to afford its nutritious properties readily to the system.
If potatoes are naturally bad, cooking will not make them good, but bad
cooking will make the best potatoes quite unfit for human food. If they
are put into cold water and simmered slowly till soft, they will generally
become so waxy that they are quite indigestible.
If potatoes are roasted or baked, they should be put into a hot
oven or buried in hot embers, and kept hot until taken out, which should
be as soon as sufficiently cooked–otherwise a new change takes place, the
water begins to evaporate, and the outside burns, while the interior soon
In frying potatoes, the starch and fibrin are often turned to
charcoal, which is just as nutritious and digestible as charcoal made of
wood. As it is with potatoes, so it is with many other vegetables–they may
be spoiled by improper cooking. As a general rule, put all into boiling
water and keep it boiling briskly till the articles are sufficiently
cooked. Never attempt to cook green vegetables in what is termed hard
water; it will sometime render green peas wholly unfit for food. The
difficulty is often remedied by putting a little lump of potash, saleratus*,
or soda in the water. If too much is used, it causes the vegetables to
fall to pieces.
*Sodium or potassium bicarbonate used as a leavening
agent; baking soda