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You say potato, I say "which one?"

June/July 2012 California Bountiful magazine



There are hundreds of varieties of potatoes grown around the world. Each variety has a different water and starch content. Some have thick skins, some have thin. All of those factors affect the cooking methods. 

California Bountiful's Farmer and the Foodie (also known as Glen Ikeda and Gwen Schoen) offer these tips for selecting the right variety for your recipe:

  • Russets, the most common variety, are low in sugar and high in starch. They tend to be drier, which makes them good for baking and mashing. 
  • Red-skinned potatoes are low in starch, so they are smooth, creamy and moist when cooked. They tend to take a slightly longer cooking time, but the skin is thin so you don't need to peel them.
  • Blue and purple potatoes have flesh that ranges from dark blue to pale lavender. The flavor is slightly nutty. You can peel them or not. Because of the high moisture content, they cook slightly faster than red potatoes. They are great for roasting, which preserves the beautiful color and brings out the flavor.
  • Gold potatoes are great for boiling and mashing because they have a dense, creamy texture. The flavor is slightly sweet and buttery.
  • Long white potatoes have a similar shape to russets, but unlike russets, the skin is thin and pale. They are often called California long whites because they were developed in California. They are very versatile, with waxy flesh and less starch than russets. They are great baked, boiled or fried.
  • Fingerling potatoes are actually small, California long whites. 
  • New potatoes are just young potatoes. They can be any variety. They haven't had time to fully convert their sugar fully to starch, so the texture is crisp and waxy. They can be cooked whole with the skins on.

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