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Potatoes are a pleasure. Enjoy these versatile veggies in an endless number of ways!

All About Potatoes

The potato, arguably the world’s most popular vegetable, is native to South America, along with tomatoes and squash. They have been a basic food in the Andes for over 7,000 years. During the Incan Empire, the emperor would store potatoes so that he could distribute them to farmers during the famines.

The Spaniards introduced potatoes in Europe at the beginning of the 16th Century, but it was not until the end of the 18th Century that large-scale cultivation began on the continent and in Great Britain.

Potatoes helped save Ireland from famine in 1740, as well as Prussia in 1774. However, Late Blight decimated the fresh potato crop in the 1840s and resulted in massive starvation and immigration to North America. The vegetable was slow to be adopted by early settlers to North America, particularly by the Puritans, partly because they were profoundly suspicious of any vegetable not mentioned in the Bible.

Today, the potato is Ontario’s largest fresh vegetable crop. Our local potatoes are classified as long, round whites, round reds, or sweet:

  • Long potatoes are the most popular. The interior is white, the skin varies from brown and rough (Russet) to buff-colored and smooth
  • Round whites are usually large, round or oval with light to medium skin. The flesh is white or yellow (Yukon Gold).
  • Round reds have rosy red, thin, glossy skins, but otherwise they’re similar to round whites.

Fun Fact:

Potatoes were the first vegetables to be grown in space!

Choosing, Storing and Preparing Potatoes

Selecting the best potatoes

Look for firm, dry, well-formed potatoes, free from bruises, dark spots, cuts, cracks, sprouted eyes and green shading. Choose the type according to what you intend to make with it: starchier potatoes are better for purées, fries or soup. Firmer potatoes are better for salads and gratins. Here are a few more guidelines:

  • To make boiled potatoes, choose new (white flesh) potatoes or red potatoes
  • For mashed potatoes, select Yukon Gold (yellow-flesh)
  • Great baked potatoes and fries are made with Russet potatoes
  • Roasted potatoes calls for white potatoes or fingerlings

Storing potatoes

Store potatoes in a cool, dark place with good air circulation. Darkness and cooler temperatures are important, as light and heat can cause potatoes to turn green and sprout. If the potatoes are in a plastic bag, be sure to punch a few holes in it or transfer them to a paper bag to prevent moisture build up.

Never store potatoes in the refrigerator, unless they are new potatoes, which can retain their quality only for a week or so.

Preparing potatoes

Unlike many other vegetables, potatoes should always be eaten cooked. The only need to be scrubbed and checked for spots before cooking.

If potatoes are peeled and not used right away, they should be soaked in slightly salted water or sprinkled with a little lemon juice to prevent the flesh from browning.

To boil potatoes, always use cold water, which will warm the potatoes slowly for more even cooking as compared to plunging them abruptly into boiling water.

Creamy mashed potatoes are easy and versatile. Here’s some inspiration!

How to make incredible mashed potatoes


Start by peeling, dicing and boiling the potatoes a little longer than you normally would for regular boiled potatoes. The potatoes must crumble easily; that’s what ensures a smooth finish.


Next, drain the potatoes and then mash them with a pestle, masher or potato ricer.


Add milk and butter to taste. Some say adding warm milk gives an even better result. Try it and you can be the judge! Whip them with a fork until they reach the consistency you like. Some like lump-free potatoes, while potato purists will tell you there’s nothing wrong with bits of potato in your mash. You can even leave the peel on for a more rustic mash.

Bring your mashed potatoes to life! Stir in one of these great taste combinations:

  • Zest from mixed citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes, etc.)
  • Diced dried sausage and chopped fresh oregano
  • Olives, sundried tomatoes and capers
  • Mascarpone cheese and fresh herbs
  • Dijon mustard, honey and fresh chives
  • Roasted red peppers and fresh basil
  • Pesto and chopped tomatoes

Grilling Great Potatoes

Potatoes are a hearty, nutritious staple for summer meals. Follow our guide to grilling your favourite varieties for amazing results:

White and yellow potatoes

For dinner in a hurry, slice and parboil Russets or Yukon Gold potatoes first to speed up grilling time. Drain and sear directly on the grill for golden, crispy potatoes, a great side dish for steak or burgers.

New potatoes

Cut potatoes in half or quarters to create uniform pieces and toss with oil and seasonings. Place in a grilling basket or foil packet and grill over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fork-tender.

Fingerling potatoes

Cut fingerlings into bite-size pieces and toss with fresh chopped rosemary, thyme, oil and seasonings. Grill in a foil packet over medium heat for 20 minutes until tender, turning every few minutes.

Enjoy versatile potatoes

There are so many delicious ways to savour Ontario potatoes! Here are some summery ideas.

Minty Mango and Potato Salad

This Minty Mango and Potato Salad is a great side and the perfect choice to take along on a picnic. Fresh and simple, whip up this dish when the temperatures soar.

See the recipe

Potato Focaccia

Our answer to potato bread, this Potato Focaccia is loaded with cheese and combined with pizza dough for the ultimate accompaniment.

Zucchini and Potato Flans

Rich, yet light, these Zucchini and Potato Flans will wow your guests at your next dinner party! Serve them as a side or a first course.

See the recipe

Potato Straws with Curry Dip

Thin strips of crispy potatoes and a creamy dip combine in our Potato Straws with Curry Dip. Serve these addictive bites with grilled burgers for a taste treat.

See the recipe

Zucchini and Potato Flans

Rich, yet light, these Zucchini and Potato Flans will wow your guests at your next dinner party! Serve them as a side or a first course.

See the recipe

Potatoes and Nutrition

A medium-sized oven-baked potato with the skin on is source of potassium, fibre, iron, folate and vitamin C. But don’t potatoes pack a lot of calories? A medium potato has 129 calories and makes a good side dish – but the toppings you add to it can really rise the caloric content. Butter, cream and gravy are calorie-laden culprits, so enjoy your spuds plain, sprinkled with fresh herbs or topped with a dollop of Greek yogurt with fresh chives. Don't forget to also take into account the portion size: the bigger the size, the more the calories consumed!