Types of Potatoes
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Types of potatoes are often categorized by their skin color.
Most common color varieties among potato types include:
- Russet-skinned varieties
- Red-skinned varieties
- Yellow-skinned varieties
- White-skinned varieties
- Blue- and purple-skinned varieties
The list below reflects those most common to an even smaller locale--the midwestern United States where we plant potatoes.
- Irish Cobbler: early maturing; round to blocky with deep eyes; excellent table potato; very susceptible to scab.
- Superior: mid-season white variety; round to oblong tubers; medium deep eyes; very good baked, boiled, or mashed; resistant to scab.
- Kennebec: late maturing white variety; block-shaped tubers; shallow eyes; excellent cooking quality.
- Green Mountain: older white; great taste; fairly high number of misshapen tubers; greatest-tasting baked potato ever; worth the effort to find certified seed.
- Norland: early maturing; produces oblong, smooth potatoes with shallow eyes; excellent boiled or mashed; fair when baked.
- Red Pontiac: late maturing; oblong with deep eyes; produces high yields with many large tubers; fair table quality; good storage quality.
- Viking: mid-season; very productive
- Russet Norkotah: late season variety; produces blocky, oblong potatoes; excellent baking potato.
- Yukon Gold: mid-season variety; good flavor; moist flesh; excellent baked, boiled, or mashed; store well. Yukon Gold is the most famous of the new wave of yellow-fleshed varieties now available.
Some references to types of potatoes may be confusing because they are not really potato varieties but shapes or styles of potatoes, potato "brands" or even names of potato recipes. Among these potato names are:
- Idaho Potatoes: there is no variety called "Idaho" potato, but since 99% of potatoes produced in Idaho are Russets, many stores call Russets "Idahos."
- New potatoes: Potatoes dug before the vines die (usually in July). When the potatoes reach 1 to 2 inches in size, you may wish to dig a few hills to use for soup or to cook with creamed peas or to butter and roast.
- Fingerling potatoes: a popular novelty potato of small "finger-shaaped" size; their moist, waxy or dry, mealy texture; sometimes in striking colors, including purple; ideal for roasting, often expensive to purchase.
- Salt potatoes: Salt potatoes date to the 1800s; invented by local salt mine workers who created a simple and inexpensive lunch by boiling small potatoes in brine.
- Sweet potatoes: Not a real variety of potato. The sweet potato grows on a a vine having rose-violet or pale pink, funnel-shaped flowers. It produces the fleshy tuberous orange root we love in our sweet potato recipes.
Choose potato varieties based on how you will use them in a recipe. Here are some guidelines:
- New potatoes: moist and waxy; best for steaming, boiling and in salads.
- Oblong mature white potatoes: somewhatdry and starchy; most popular for french-fried potatoes; great for baking and mashing.
- Round red potatoes: a rather waxy texture; ideal for boiling and mashing.
- Round white potatoes: thin-skinned; hold their shape in salads; great for boiling and roasting.
- Yellow-fleshed potatoes: good for steaming, roasting, and mashing.
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