Potatoes 101 - How to Pick a Potato

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Potatoes, America's favourite starch, are prepared in numerous ways, from mashed potatoes to baked potatoes to homemade chips. While there are hundreds of varieties available on the market throughout the world, there are usually only a few common varieties that are widely known and sold in the supermarket or at your local farmer's market. However, choosing the type of potato for the right dish may be a daunting task. Potatoes are classified by their starch and moisture content. There are three categories of potatoes: waxy (new), starchy (mature), and all-purpose.

Waxy Potatoes (New Potatoes)
Description: Waxy potatoes tend to be high in moisture and sugar but low in starch. Thus they tend to hold their shape when prepared. These potatoes are the immature potatoes that are harvested in the spring and early summer. They tend to be smaller in size and have a rounder shape.
Variety: White, yellow, red-skinned (White Finn, White Rose, Russian Blue, Cal White)
Best Dish: Salads, soups, stews, hashed browns, scalloped potatoes

Starchy Potatoes (Mature Potatoes)
Description: Starchy potatoes are high in starch content but low in moisture and sugar content. These types tend to bake and fry well since they don't hold their shape well. These potatoes are best used for mashing and frying.
Variety: Russet, Idaho
Best Dish: Mashed potatoes, french fries, baked potato

All-Purpose Potatoes
Description: As their name suggests, these potatoes can be used in many potato dishes. If you are not keen on purchasing the different varieties of potatoes for your different dishes, then this potato is your go-to potato. They are irregularly shaped and the most cost-effective alternative.
Variety: Yukon Gold, Red Gold, Kennebec
Best Dish: Easy potato recipes such as mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, french fries, potato salad, hashed browns

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