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Roots And Tubercles

( Originally Published 1904 )



These foods, which comprise potatoes, car-rots, and turnips, are less rich in nourishing matter than are the other vegetables, since they contain from 75 to 90 per cent of water. They are also poorer in albumen and starchy matter.

The potato occupies a prominent place among our foods. A few of the many good reasons for this may be noted. It is an abundant crop, and contains twice as much albumen, and nearly four times as much starch, as is yielded by nearly four times as much land sown in cereals. The potato also keeps very well through the year. However, towards the end of the winter the starch in the potato changes into sugar, and imparts to an old potato a sweetish taste. When the potato begins to sprout, the starch also undergoes a change into sugar. Hence the necessity of keeping potatoes not only in the dark to prevent them from sprouting, but also in a temperature neither too hot nor too cool." The potato is also capable of being served in so many palatable forms, and by so many easy processes, that it is very popular with chefs.

When a potato is boiled in water, the starchy matter swells up on absorbing eater, and especially the cellular sacs themselves; consequently, while it is rich in starch it becomes on boiling poor in water, dry and mealy. A potato which is poor in starch swells little in water, and is soft and watery after boiling. New potatoes, being imperfectly mature, are very likely to be of this nature.

Carrots and turnips are of less value as food than are potatoes.

OTHER VEGETABLES, HERBS, AND SALADS

These are mainly more aqueous than the other vegetables just noted. Water is present in them to from 90 to 95 per cent., and the nutritive matter is not more than from 5 to 8 per cent. They are, -however, richer in salts or mineral matter.

FRUITS

These are quite rich in water, but rather less so than the vegetables. The albumen in them is comparatively insignificant; but they contain important quantities of starch and sugar, as well as acids, and odorous substances which are very agreeable and useful in cooking. The fruits which are richest in sugar are cherries, and especially the grape. Dried fruits are naturally richer than fresh fruits, but they are not eaten raw; and on cooking they 'regain the water which they lost in drying. Cooked fruits are more easily digested than are raw fruits.

By reason of the quantity of water which cooked fruits introduce into the system, they lessen the necessity for drinks, and also the desire for alcoholic drinks. Statistics prove that the consumption of alcoholic drinks is less in proportion as the eating of fruits is great.

Dried fruits such as almonds, and nuts generally, are remarkable for their richness in albumen and fat, and for-the very small proportion of starch and sugar.

LEGUMINOUS PLANTS

The leguminous plants, represented by beans and peas, constitute by far the richest food which the vegetable kingdom affords. These contain as much, and even more, albumen than the richest animal food, meat, and besides yield a very considerable supply of starchy material. Few foods are as rich. Little- peas, or petits ,pois, which are picked before they are ripe, contain a high percentage of water, and are very weak, in consequence, in albuminous nourishment.



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