Potatoes have become a part and parcel of every human being. Be it a packet of chips or homemade mashed potatoes, potatoes can be found everywhere. Potatoes are the energy house. They consists of reducing sugars and complex carbohydrates. Usually, too sugary potatoes get rejected due to their brown colour and extremely sweet taste. If too much sugar is not desirable, then why not produce Sugar-free potatoes? With this notion, Central Potato Research Institute (CPRI) has come up with a new innovation in the field of agriculture, i.e., sugar-free potatoes. Before getting to know about this innovative vegetable, let us first know the scenario of potato production and its storage and in depth details of Sugar Free Potatoes.
Potatoes In India:
Fresh potatoes contain complex carbohydrates like starch. We prefer them because of their quality, appearance and nutritive value.
In the month of February-March, farmers harvest about 90% of the potato crops in the Indo-Gangetic plains. These fresh potatoes are available only for a limited time of 2-3 months. For the rest of the months, cold stored potatoes feed the population.
Cold Storage conditions | Sugar Free Potatoes
In the cold storage, usually, the potatoes are stored at the ambient conditions 2-4°C and 90-95% RH, to reduce the sprouting.
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The potatoes rest in the cold storage. Some biochemical changes of complex carbohydrates into simple reducing sugar occur in these conditions. In short, the quality of the potatoes degrade with time, hence, reducing the shelf stability of the potatoes. To reduce the browning, there is an increase in cold storage temperature up to 10-12°C, which overcomes the sugar accumulation but the sprouting of potatoes occurs as the potato germinate. Due to the occurrence of sprout growth, storage losses take place.
This leaves us with a question.
How to get a supply of fresh like desirable sugar free potatoes?
With the problems with stored potatoes, Central Potato Research Institute (CPRI), Deesa has further gone into depth and has come up with a solution. They formulated a chemical so as to handle the sprouting as well as the sugar accumulation level. They came up with CIPC, (Isopropyl N-(3-chlorophenyl) carbamate.
CIPC: the foundation of Sugar free potatoes:
CIPC is a sprout suppressant, commonly called Chlorpropham. It is a cost effective and a post-harvest solution for the potato storage, which inhibits the germination of potatoes. To test the effectiveness of CIPC, CPRI conducted experiments on a variety of stored potatoes like Kufri Chandramukhi, Kufri Jyoti.
At small scale, the researchers sprayed CIPC over the potatoes either as an aerosol formulation as a powder. Whereas on a larger scale, they stored potatoes at 10-12°C at 85-95% RH. They sprayed thermal aerosol of CIPC through an inlet fixed at 3 feet above the ground level. A dose of 35-45 ml of a commercial preparation of CIPC also called ‘Oorja’, manufactured by United Phosphorus Ltd, Mumbai was used.
In a period of 48 hours, the potatoes absorbed the CIPC as it settled over them. The CO2 formed was flushed out and afterwards, the sugar analysis of the potato was conducted using Nelson Method.
After the analysis, the researchers found that the sugar content was within acceptable limits. They concluded that there was conversion of reducing sugar content into starch. As sugar converted into starch, the chip colour improved, thus increasing the acceptability in the market.
Concern about Side effects of CIPC?
When we talk about chemicals, every compound has side effects if consumed in high doses. Hence, the biggest health concern regarding CIPC is its chemical side effects . Therefore, a research center conducted a test to check the CIPC residual level in the treated potatoes.
According to Environment Protection Agency 1996, 50 ug/g is the maximum permissible level for CIPC residues in potato tubers which further reduced to 30 ug/g of tubers in 2002. With CIPC treatment, none was above the permissible limit.
Overview Of Sugar Free Potatoes
Only after 3-4 weeks of treatment, the customer should consume these sugar-free potatoes. We can store these potatoes in a non-refrigerated storage to evaporatively-cooled stores to meet short-term needs of 3-4 months.
Are sugar free potatoes available for household cooking?
In India, the potato chips and snack companies uses fresh potatoes as they have better appearance and texture.
As Deesa is a substantial potato growing centre in India, sugar-free potatoes are supplied to the companies like the local players (Ajanta & Balaji Wafers) and big players like McCain (Canada) and Reliance Industries Ltd and globally export in West Asia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh etc.
But average customers have not been able to buy sugar-free potatoes directly from the store.
But that’s no point now. In the outskirts of Ahmedabad hub, a town located in North Gujarat called Deesa has a small firm, called Pooja Cold Storage. This firm has taken an initiative. They have launched 5 kg and 20 kg of sugar-free potatoes. The state government highly liked the initiative. The government teamed the firm with the potato research centre at Deesa.
The concept of sugar-free potatoes is expanding. Thus, Arun Patel, the proprietor of Pooja Cold storage has also imported equipment from the Netherlands to sort and package sugar-free potatoes.
The wrong notion for diabetic patients:
CIPC treated potatoes contain low reducing sugars. Customers consider them better for diabetic patients. But as far as the disease is concerned, not only free sugar level but the total carbohydrate content of food is responsible for diabetes. Even though the sugar content is less than 100 to 300 mg/100 g wt, there is not much difference in the carbohydrate level. However, after eating potatoes that are high in starch and low in sugar, it takes longer time for glucose to increase. Meanwhile, diabetes patients can consume both fresh and stored potatoes provided the total carbohydrate intake does not exceed the recommended level.