A-z - Animals

The world's largest potato

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Two of humanity's favorite things are superlatives and potatoes. Luckily, we figured out a way to combine these two themes into one. Today, we're going to take a look at the largest potato ever grown in the world. These wonderful tubers are versatile enough to be cooked at any mealtime, great additions to dog food, and many other uses.

Let's take a look at the largest potato ever created, the steps it took to grow so large, and where it was grown.

How did we get potatoes?

Potato
As counterintuitive as it may seem, potatoes come from the Americas.

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Potatoes are the tubers of the plant potato. Humans do not eat the fruits produced by these plants because they are poisonous to humans. Instead, we eat tubers. The plant's tubers store nutrients to help the plant grow during the growing season. The parts of plants that humans eat grow underground.

As much as we might think of the potato as a widespread plant, it wasn't. The plant is native to the Americas, and the potato didn't start appearing elsewhere until the mid-16th century . Potatoes apparently originated in Peru and Bolivia, but the most common variety in the world originated from one grown in Chile.

How do we know? Well, the scientists decided to use DNA analysis to trace the origin of the humble tuber. Unfortunately, only a few varieties (types) of potatoes make it across the ocean. As a result, potatoes are more susceptible to a plant disease called blight than many types of potatoes. The fact that these potatoes both carried and were susceptible to specific blights was a factor in the Irish Potato Famine, but not the only problem.

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Now that we know a little about potatoes, let's take a look at how big these plants should be.

How big is an average potato?

What Potato Bugs Eat - Spray Tubers
The average potato is small, only 3 or 4 inches in diameter.

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Before we start talking about the largest potato ever, we have to establish a baseline. How big is an average potato? Well, that's a tough question to answer because potatoes don't grow evenly at all. Additionally, many of the groups that oversee the laws on growing and marketing potatoes are uniquely sized.

For example, the USDA considers the diameter and maximum weight of potatoes when classifying them. They say small potatoes can be up to 2 ¼ inches in diameter and weigh about 4 ounces. Large potatoes weigh up to 16 ounces and are between 3 and 4 inches in diameter.

Medium sized potatoes are probably the most common size and can be up to 3 inches in diameter and weigh about 10 ounces. Keep in mind that some types of potatoes grow much larger than others. For our purposes, however, let's say an average potato is about 3 inches in diameter and weighs between 10 and 16 ounces overall. The upper end is approximately 1 lb.

This gives a little leeway to the high end of the measurement. Now that we know how big a potato grows on average, we can start thinking about some of the largest potatoes ever created.

How do we measure the largest potato?

Still life with vintage scales and potatoes
The best way to measure potatoes is by weight.

© Alexander Sviridov/Shutterstock.com

As you can see from our USDA assessment, two ways of measuring potatoes emerged. First, we have the diameter. Second, we have weight. For our purposes, we're going to look at the weight of these tubers. This is the easiest way to determine the area of a potato. Otherwise, we're stuck in a futile attempt to measure the diameter of a tuber notorious for uneven growth.

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What is the largest potato ever?

The largest ever potato weighed 10 pounds 14 ounces or 4.98 kilograms. The potato was grown in England by a man named Peter Glaserbrook. It first gained attention after being weighed in at the 2011 British National Horticultural Show.

Potatoes are not the uniform round potatoes that most people buy in the supermarket. Instead, this potato looks almost like a combination of several potatoes. The central part of the potato is the largest. However, it has branches on the top and sides.

The potato pieces growing at the top are the smallest, but the ones growing to the left and right are much larger and contribute greatly to the mass and overall size of the structure.

Not sure if the potato owner wanted to set a world record potato when he grew them. Still, it was clear that he must have had a hard time digging out the potatoes without damaging the structure. It's also not clear what the potatoes have become.

We don't know if it's the largest batch of mashed potatoes made from a single potato, or if it's boiled, mashed, or stewed.

The challenger for the biggest potato ever

gourd
Not all tubers are potatoes.

©Jiang Hongyan/Shutterstock.com

In 2021, a challenger to the world's largest potato growing record emerges. New Zealand couple Colin and Donna Craig-Brown were preparing their garden for spring when they spotted a giant tuber.

Their tubers reportedly weighed 17.4 pounds, nearly double the weight of the record-holding potato. However, the world record holder wouldn't let this massive tuber waltz enter the record books without checking a thing or two. They asked for a DNA test.

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In early 2022, it was revealed that this wasn't a record-breaking potato. Although it is a tuber, it is not a type of potato tuber. Instead, it is the tuber of a gourd. According to interviews with the tubers' owners, they kept the tubers, named them "Dug" and kept them in the freezer. They're still disappointed they didn't set the world record for the largest potato. However, they probably have the largest tubers outside of potatoes.

All in all, the search for the world's largest potato is full of interesting stories. Oddly enough, people don't grow these large potatoes as intentionally as they grow pumpkins. These tubers germinate naturally from plants of these enormous sizes.

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