11/29/2012 12:09 EST | Updated 01/29/2013 05:12 EST

The Staple Ingredient You Eat 73 Pounds of a Year

Baked Bree

There's one particular ingredient that has stood the test of time. It provides lots of health benefits, comes in hundreds of varieties and commonly takes the form of the most beloved comfort food. Surviving times of economic turmoil and phases of trendy ingredients, it always comes out on top as the most basic feature in any foodie's pantry. Can you guess what this favoured food is?

The Potato!

As one of the most consumed ingredients on the planet (the average person eats 73 pounds per year!) the potato can be used in an endless amount of dishes and literally enjoyed all year 'round. Sometimes the vast amount of varieties can seem daunting. When faced with hundreds of choices, which to choose? Its many varieties can be categorized into three basic types: waxy, starchy and all-purpose. Here's a fool-proof guide to deciphering the qualities of these types so you'll be a potato-pro during your next trip to the supermarket!

Waxy potatoes are characterized by having the least amount of starch and the highest amount of moisture and sugar. Also termed "boiling potatoes," they have a smooth outer layer of skin that's waxy to the touch. Common types that can be found in the supermarket are round red, round white and yellow. Because of this potato's tendency to rigidly hold its shape, its ideal use is within dishes that involve roasting or barbecuing. Soups, casseroles and potato salads are all delicious meals to use waxy potatoes in!

The potatoes that are most ideal for baking purposes are the Starchy variety. Despite having a dry and mealy texture, when cooked they magically transform into a light and fluffy consistency. This quality makes them perfect to mash and fry, a delicious option when making homemade shepherd's pie or home fries. Feel the sudden urge to bake some homemade chips? We do, too! Some popular types to try are Russet, Goldrush and Idaho.

The potato that rests in the middle ground between starchy and waxy is All-Purpose. They hold together in boiling water and are slightly moister than the starchy varieties. Perfect for roasting, pan frying, mashing and baking, these potatoes have a multi-faceted quality that makes them a great choice for countless recipes. Try common types like Yukon Gold and Superior potatoes in soup, stew and gratin dishes.

Are you an adventurous chef? If so, there's plenty of rare and interesting varieties to try that have properties and qualities that set them apart from the average potato. The Blue variety, which originated in South America, are purple when raw and turn blue once cooked. They are all-purpose wonders that prove to be a great presentation piece when used in mashes and pies! Potato cultivators have also recently bred three new types that contain more than 18 per cent dry matter! Igorota, Solibao and Ganza are the perfect potatoes to use when making sturdy, crispy French fries because of this quality.

Hmm...all this potato talk is making us hungry! Try using your favourite potato type in one of our great recipes!